The Perfect Assassin - K.A. Doore

Another of the ongoing series of books which seem like they are written specifically to my tastes, since it's about time the publishing industry caught up with this! I enjoyed The Perfect Assassin very much, even though some of what it does is fairly well-worn, mostly because it generally does it so well. 

 

The book itself is set in a desert society where water is literally life and where, as our story starts, everyone is waiting for the first rainstorms of the season - this is a society where the wasting of water is one of the worst crimes that can be committed and where it's also the basis for healing magic. This particular society also has a history of training a small group of assassins to punish crimes that would cause upheaval in that society if they were to be known, working on the premise that it's better for the individual to be killed than for their family to go through the shame and social opprobrium of that crime being known by everyone. 

 

Our protagonist, Amastan, is one of those trainee assassins although he'd much rather be reading in a corner somewhere. There's a big emphasis on this particular training program only turning out people who can kill rather than people who enjoy doing it, since there's also a caveat that the people who are killed have to be found by someone within a specific period of time if their spirit is not to turn vengeful and try to possess someone. As Amastan is finishing his training, he and his fellow trainees are told that there won't be any contracts for them to carry out anyway, as those were banned after their mentor broke the system some years earlier. 

 

In the aftermath of that revelation, which has Amastan more than a little relieved since he didn't want to be killing people anyway, he stumbles across the body of a murder victim which has been hidden. Then another murder happens, this time one of the assassins themselves, again with the body hidden afterwards. Amastan is tasked with finding out exactly what's going on and reluctantly goes undercover serving drinks so he can find out what the initial murder victim's servants really thought of him and therefore who would want him dead.

 

He also gets to do a lot of reading to help figure out what actually happened when the contracts were stopped and that, at least, makes him happy some of the time. As does meeting Yufit, with the two of them rescuing each other on more than one occasion before the realities of what is going on come crashing down around the two of them. It was fairly obvious what the big plot twist was going to be but it was handled very deftly - a less able writer might have gone full-on redemption mode (in service of the romantic sub-plot) even though the realities of the situation just don't allow it. 

 

All in all, I found The Perfect Assassin a very enjoyable read that kept me up well past when I should have gone to sleep in order to actually finish it. That for me is the mark of a well-written story and I also managed to pick up the next book set in this universe (The Impossible Contract) off Netgalley, so all is well.