I've read nearly all of Coonts' novels and would call myself a tepid fan of his work. Coonts can range from absolutely terrific to pretty bad. "The Assassin", however, is the first Coonts novel I've ever set aside without finishing. In fact, I gave it up at page 75.
Because there is not a smidgen of credibility in the book. Coonts draws on recent headlines for his plot line and that becomes a part of the problem. Coonts uses the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko with Polonium-20 as the weapon. Not a good thing to do since anyone who followed the news of that truly unique act knows that Coonts is simply borrowing it for the story. There is no credibility to Coonts' back story. To be believable, Coonts should have invented his own narrative from the same base.
The main characters, Jake Grfton and Tommy Carmellini, are back again - and frankly they have beome threadbare. Grafton, the retired Admiral and intelligence czar, was at one time a formidable character. Now, frankly, his dialog bounces mercurially from all-knowing to stuck on stupid. Carmellini, who speaks to us in the first-person while everyone else uses third-person, needs help with his sex addiction. The plot device of a privately financed, government executed campaign against Muslim terrorists is unbelievable from the very first words describing it.
The Abu Qasim character, supposedly the world's most feared terrorist, whom no one can identify by sight is - here's that word agsain - unbelievable. His alleged daughter, who is now a French socialite (and, of course, rich and stunningly beautiful) is also unbelievble.
All of this mind numbing, silly nonsense comes in the first 62 pages. Then Coonts unloads on his technically literate audience with the introduction of Robin Cloyd. The stereotyped description is enough to cause teeth grinding: "Robin was a technical genius, a tall, gawky young woman who lived in jeans and sweatshirts because the rooms where she spent her working life were filled with computers and heavily air conditioned. She also wore glasses, large, thick ones . . . "
Coonts needs an advisor. Being intelligent and even a "geek" doesn't mean you look weird. Also, most people who do what are soon described as Robin's work, would not be in a computer room. Coonts obviously doesn't understand what computer networks are all about.
Within moments, however, Coonts goes from awful to horrible. Robin is described as a "data-mining exert who had been working for NSA. She had been temporarily transferred to the CIA and assigned as Jake's office assistant." Office assistant? Coonts obviously is clueless as to what data-mining is, which he demonstrates in the very next sentence: "One of the many things she did for the admiral [presumably including coffee fetching?] was to hack her way around the Internet, which was, of course, illegal."
Of course, Coonts doesn't know what hacking is. Coonts doesn't know what the word Internet means. Coonts not only doesn't know what he is talking about, he insults those who do.
Coonts has his "office assistant" on a moment's notice "hack" into the computers of the three of the richest people in the world, all leaders of large businesses. No problem. Takes only a few seconds. Nonsense.
But Coonts keeps right on going. Having cracked these systems in seconds, Robin isolates their email accounts, saying "They're using a fairly sophisticated encryption code . . ." Of course, she cracks it in seconds.
You can get free encryption programs that are essentially invulnerable to cracking. Coonts is not only apparently unaware of that, but thinks everyone else is to.
At that point, I lasted another 13 pages as the plot and characters went from dumb to dumber.
This is not Coonts at his prime. Far from it, this is Coonts approaching rock bottom. Avoid this turkey.