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The Assassin: A Novel [Abridged, Audiobook, CD] [Audio CD]

Stephen Coonts , Dennis Boutsikaris

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Book Description

Aug. 5 2008
From Stephen Coonts comes a novel of high octane excitement, featuring Tommy Carmellini in his most dangerous mission yet.
In the finale of Coonts's last novel The Traitor, the ruthless and brilliant Al Qaeda leader who nearly succeeded in blowing up a meeting of the Group of 7 in Paris slipped the noose and escaped.  But Abu Qasim has another trick up his sleeve: he has offered to pay a  the Mafia a fortune to help him  bring New York to its knees.
The CIA learns that something is up and a worried president sends his best--Jake Grafton and his secret weapon, Tommy Carmellini. Tommy is soon in grave danger as he tries to piece the deadly puzzle together. Set amidst ticking bombs and flying bullets, the stakes have never been higher. Will Tommy put it all together in time t stop the disaster? Or will the terrorists set events in motion that will leave America reeling?

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Abridged edition (Aug. 5 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593979592
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593979591
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 13.5 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 68 g

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Coonts's exciting third thriller to star reformed burglar turned CIA operative Tommy Carmellini (after The Traitor) raises a timely issue—the lack of well-to-do Americans on combat duty in the war against terrorism. When an Iraqi bomb kills Huntington Winchester's only child, a Harvard med student who joined the navy out of patriotism, the grieving father decides he and his privileged friends aren't doing enough to defend civilization against the jihadist threat. Winchester gets tacit approval from one of those friends, the unnamed U.S. president, for him and some other well-to-do types to finance their own private war. When al-Qaeda mastermind Abu Qasim discovers the identities of those in Winchester's group and targets them, Carmellini and his CIA boss, Adm. Jake Grafton, determine to set a trap that involves Qasim's possible daughter. Though the constant switching between various points-of-view distracts at times, the action moves swiftly to its Hollywood ending. Author tour. (Aug.) ""
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Dennis Boutsikaris packs his presentation with a dazzling variety of accents and characters of both genders. However, he is at his best as Carmellini. Boutsikaris provides a unique vocal identity with an expression and tempo that match Tommy's wiseacre attitude. With just a little imagination, listeners get the feeling they are sharing a beer with Carmellini while Tommy tells his fascinating story. It doesn't get much better than this."--AudioFile on The Traitor, Winner of the Earphones award for truly exceptional presentations

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  63 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long Take Off Roll On This One Jan. 23 2009
By John R. Linnell - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Stephen Coonts is a pilot and a novelist. This book had me stumped for a while as the narrative just kept plodding along. I have read a lot of accounts lately of the Eighth Air Force in England during WW2 and this book reminded me of the long take off roll of a fully loaded B-17 on the way to Germany. Gathering speed slowly, all engines straining, the bomber leaves the air strip with little to spare and slowly forms up with its mates and heads to the target.

For what seemed like the longest time, I wondered if this book was ever going anywhere. The plot line has been explained by others and maybe it is necessary to take so much time to wind this story up, however once we get to the point where the bodies on both sides start droppping like flies, things get very interesting.

This author has given us a lot of very readable novels in the past and while this one isn't his best, there is still some bite in his writing and I am glad I stuck it out. That may not be the highest praise, but it is honest.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Authors should not insult their reader's intelligence Nov. 9 2008
By Jerry Saperstein - Published on
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.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Apparently ignorant author creates stupifyingly stupid Special Operations characters Sept. 26 2011
By Mountain Wind - Published on

Arguably good story-telling -- provided you are the kind of reader who wants your "good guys" to be so stupid and so professionally incompetent that they end up being fodder for an omniscient, virtually omnipotent pair of terrorists.

On the other hand, if you are more realistically inclined, you will find the gun-fodder characters in this book to be insults to the professions they purport to represent.


Read what follows, only if you do not plan to read the book.


As other reviewers have pointed out, the novel's organizing theme is absurd.

A group of wealthy business CEOs approach a "maybe" CIA official to guide them in financing a plan to eliminate Islamic terrorism by impeding its access to money. Inexplicably included in this group of good guys is an abrasive, loud-mouthed, and obviously untrustworthy journalist, who periodically threatens to blab the arrangement to the public.


Since I come from a parallel occupation, the egregious incompetence of the book's CIA and Special Operations personnel irritated me. Here is a sample selection:

Two Special Ops counter-assassins are themselves assassinated because they are too obtuse to take precautions against being followed after eliminating a terrorist in his homeland. One of these operatives is so witless that he doesn't bother to warn his girlfriend that she might become a target for the pursuing jihadists.

Similarly, a Special Operations sniper team shoots a target terrorist (who is visiting a jihadist village), while knowingly being observed by an enemy counter-sniper, whose movements they lose track off during their hit.

After completing the assassination (and unrealistically re-finding the counter-sniper), the pair blows up their 50-caliber rifle, rather than pack it out. Though I can see circumstances in which that might be necessary, Coonts' explanation does not justify losing the range advantage that the supreme sniper weapon would have given the pair as they try to outrun the target's jihadist "brothers."

Professionally worse, the sniper team inexplicably splits up during the villagers' pursuit. And one of them is too incompetent to recognize that the point man for the pursuers, whom he lets go by him, will double back to kill him, after he engages the rest of the villager group. The other of the sniper team is too far away to prevent his death.

In a similar "how stupid can one get" vein, four Special Operations folk are assigned to protect a house, which they know to be the subject of a coming jihadist attack. Two of these gems go to sleep in the hay loft of a barn, without first setting up a perimeter warning system. Both are easily killed. One of their comrades, sensing that something wrong is afoot, dumbly goes into the barn through the main door. Natural selection has no empathy for him, either.

First-person protagonist, Tommy Carmellini, is a mediocrity of such proportion that one wonders how ex-Admiral CIA operative, Jake Grafton, could possibly consider him to be up to performing the ridiculously difficult tasks that he is assigned. Even one of the book's main characters tells Grafton what an incompetent Tommy is.

Carmellini, for example -- in addition to getting shot a couple of times because he is obtusely unaware of his surroundings -- shoots an innocent man. Though assigned to protect a houseful of people, he apparently does not recognize that one of these same people might trip over the booby trap bottle he plants on the stairway. When he hears the person trip over the bottle, Tommy blasts him to death. The blast-ee turns out to be the chauffeur for one the main characters.

Jake Grafton, himself, is such an arguable bonehead that he puts some of the people he is supposed to protect inside a multi-story apartment house that even the most ignorant of readers would recognize can't be protected. What happens next is so ridiculously improbable that experienced military and police will cringe in reading it.


Grafton tells Tommy Carmellini to make sure that driver for the four-man team of jihadists who attack the indefensible apartment house is captured.

Coonts, of course, doesn't tell us how Tommy is supposed to kill the four-man team (who are inside the building) and catch the driver (who is on the street outside the building) at the same time.

Tommy brilliantly dashes out onto the street, dives headfirst into the driver's car, seizes the car keys from the ignition with one hand, and beats up the driver with the other elbow. (I've been in similar car-seizing situations, and it doesn't go the way that Coonts describes.)

Tommy then leaves the driver unconscious, but unsecured. Naturally, when Tommy leaves to deal with the four-man team of killers inside the building, the driver he was supposed to capture runs away.


Author Coonts is no better on the non-professionals' side of the equation.

The anti-terrorist CEOs that Grafton leads are too brain-dead to take precautions against being murdered, even after repeated warnings. They are "offed" one-by-one in a tedious exposition of the Darwinian principle of "survival of the fittest" by "elimination of the stupidest."

For example, after his colleagues are murdered one by one of, one of this CEO group eventually decides that he does need two body guards. But he foolishly rides around in an "unhardened" limousine that he apparently left parked somewhere where bad guys could plant a bomb on it. Guess what happens.

And Grafton's own CIA-recruited Arab anti-terrorists are equally careless. One is assigned to give poison to a terror-plotting imam. He does, but he foolishly allows some of the imam's followers see him dispose of the poison bottle in a dumpster just outside the spiritual center. Oops.


Coonts, not understanding how professionals actually interview and interrogate, inserts numerous purposeless conversations in the book. These often revolve around suspected double-agent "Marissa." Carmellini and Grafton both have aggravatingly airy conversations with her that lead nowhere. The talks aren't even interesting for the irrelevant content that Coonts does include in them.

The author apparently adopted this "nothing happens" conversational style, so as to preserves Marissa's mystery to the end. But, given the law enforcement and anti-terrorist nature of the plot, real professionals would never have let Marissa skate untouched for so many pages.


There are only two central bad guys. This apparently unsupported pair manages to put the entire American intelligence and counter-terrorism elite on the defensive.

The shadowy one of the two operates independently and knows everything that is going on, even inside the American intelligence community. He supervises a non-jihadist mercenary killer, who also knows more than anyone could know and, thanks to the incompetence of his targets, has no trouble introducing numerous folk to the Great Beyond.


The novel's preposterous plot and professionally disrespectful characterizations of counter-terrorism professionals trivialize painfully "real" reality.

That's not my cup of tea. But it might be yours. Whatever Coonts' foibles are (when it comes to unrealistic depictions) he is a good story-teller.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Something like a second-rate Hollywood thriller April 11 2009
By Suc Hamate - Published on
This novel has a very clear theme: fighting the never-ending anti-terrorist war.
What's different from the reality is that the momentum behind the war is not the will and strength of the American government and its allies, but several billionaires and dignitaries.
Coonts weaved certains plots of contemporary news into his novel, e.g. the poisoning of a Russian dissenter. The novel is entertaining to some extent but not beyond expectation at all. In fact, you'll soon find that the twists and turns of the protaganists' fates are within your easy imagination, thus reducing the fun of reading.
Have you every watched the movie, True Lies? This novel is just something like that.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars the assinin Feb. 5 2013
By Donald Tidlund - Published on
After a good start it turned out to be a bore. This author fell asleep. I know I did after about page 50. A very weak attempt after a pretty good beginning. Buyer be ware. A waste of money.

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