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Island of the Assassin


ISLAND OF THE ASSASSIN is about two kinds of silence in conflict.  A covert killer, Kai Landrie, contracted by the CIA to target Islamic terrorists, develops moral scruples.  He shares his doubts in confession with Peter Quince, a priest, who gets renditioned for receiving classified information.   The result: two unconditional secrecies, sacred and profane, tragically collide.

  • “Roccasalvo has written a thriller with a conscience.”
    Trevor Ulbrick, feature writer for Foreign Affairs.
  • "ASSASSIN is a page-turner from the get-go."
    Paul Hidalgo, feature writer and Radicalization Specialist for Foreign Affairs.
  • I have just finished reading ISLAND OF THE ASSASSIN. It's a cliffhanger, all right, and once you're in, you have to keep going. The real import of ASSASSIN is this: where do we go from here? Can a democracy deal illegally indefinitely and stay a democracy? Roccasalvo puts the dilemma in the starkest of terms of moral man in immoral society.
    John Lagerwey, PhD, Research Professor, Centre for East Asian Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Roccasalvo is such a good writer. ISLAND OF THE ASSASSIN is the best novel I have read all year. Kai is a great character and Peter as well. I want the film rights to the book.
    Ryan Dougherty, MBA, Brand Manager JF Men at Julien Farel Group
  • ISLAND OF THE ASSASSIN is a great read. The story gripped me immediately because strong, complex characters inhabit the book, not to mention, their crisscrossing relationships. The twists and turns, as in so many of Roccasalvo's other books, make this a first class thriller keeping you constantly on edge. His prose style is superb; the story relentlessly compelling. It has my highest recommendation.
    David Yi, Risk Management Professional
  • A friend gave me ISLAND OF THE ASSASSIN without a warning that I'd be pulled in and held captive by the story. It was impossible to lift my eyes from the page--I had to read on. Kai Landrie and Peter Quince, the two main characters, challenge each other to a duel of words. I had to know who would win since the competitors were equals. The thriller within the thriller is witty and quite funny; it helps ease the unbearable tension of the main story. The novel is a quick read only because you may do it in one sitting in order not to prolong the agony of asking: "What happens next?"
    Shirley Yang, Program Coordinator at Center for Translational & Basic Research
  • I really enjoyed ISLAND OF THE ASSASSIN. It has great suspense and character development with relevant and current human inner and environmental battles. Roccasalvo has much to offer from his experience and work.
    John Noah Pertew, founder of BATCH
  • I really enjoyed ISLAND OF THE ASSASSIN. I read it in three sittings, I could not put it down. I saw how the author was equally present in the characters of both priest and covert killer. I have read Roccasalvo before. His style is instantly recognizable . . . and the last line of the book: I loved it.
    Michael Liguori, MD Internal Medicine
  • ISLAND OF THE ASSASSIN is a suspense thriller whose concern is the full implications of modern terrorism in American foreign policy. The book circles around two main points. First, a hired assassin Kai Landrie targets jihadists before they attack innocent men and women. Second, the assassin establishes a friendship with an urbane vacationing priest, Father Peter Quince, who is a gifted writer and counselor. After several discussions with the priest about the war on terror, Landrie confronts the intractable question whether violence can be used for the greater good. He then reveals his activities to the priest in sacramental confession. Kai is convinced that Peter will respect what is known in Catholicism as the seal of confession. This means that Father Quince cannot and will not—ever—divulge the contents of confession to anyone, not even under pain of death. The CIA little appreciates this unconditional rule whose rigidity allows for no exception, not even to this agency, well-respected for its own secrecy. From his single-minded position, the CIA director wants Quince to disclose information about Landrie. Thus, a juggernaut. If necessary, the CIA will pry information from the priest by ordering his rendition. What transpires makes for thrilling suspense, especially in light of recent attacks on our homeland. No fiction here. ISLAND OF THE ASSASSIN is an action-packed page-turner. Its suspense depends on the seal of confession and how it protects and gives immunity to Landrie’s targeted killings. One caveat. The author is so facile with words they occasionally get in the way of narrative. Nonetheless, I agree with other reviewers that his prose sparkles with style and grace.
    Joan L. Roccasalvo, CNA journalist
  • ISLAND OF THE ASSASSIN is a fun romp through the intricacies of international counter-terrorism and moral casuisty.
    Richard Woods, PhD Author & Essayist
  • I just finished ISLAND OF THE ASSASSIN and what a ride it was! Roccasalvo's ability to develop such complex characters and within such a short amount of space is superb. I was particularly intrigued with the moral dilemmas faced by Kai Landrie and Peter Quince. Their ability to respond to predicaments swiftly and without anxiety-producing indifference and indecision was heroic. It's a goal of mine and I'm sure for many of us. ASSASSIN is a well-crafted novella, and I would like to see the author alone to discuss it in more detail.
    William Mark Richardson, Pre-Med student and science enthusiast
  • Most people don’t see a moral gray area when it comes to killing other human beings, but there are certain evils in the world that must be eradicated, whether or not the public is told about it. There are also those shadowy figures in our government’s Rolodex, agents who operate in the darkness, doing what “needs” to be done to protect their country. In Island of the Assassin by Joseph Roccasalvo, loyalty, morality, and abstract ideas of the greater good collide in a stunning and revelatory novel about the fuzzy edges of good and evil. Kai Landrie is a trained killer, contracted out by the CIA to do the dirty work in hard-to-reach places with hard-to-kill terrorists. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. The intense demands of the job begin to weight on the soul of the main character, however, so he decides to unburden himself in one of the oldest ways we know – religion. He forms an unlikely relationship with a priest, Peter Quince, who tries to help Kai find peace with what he’s done. Instead, Quince is dragged into the same messy world as his confessional companion, and is eventually used as a pawn by the CIA to keep Kai’s trigger finger working. Aside from the direct plot, this book delves deeply into the world of covert operations and the means with which government organizations get their jobs done. It is a gritty and dark world when anti-terrorist organizations, intelligence agencies, and heartless killers are duking it out for the soul of the planet. Kai is right in the midst of it, which leads to a stunning philosophical drama playing out on these pages. Is loyalty to country more important than your personal code? Is friendship more powerful than patriotism? What is the value of one life in the battle to save or liberate thousands? Kai works through many of these problems with Peter, while at others, he discovers the answers inside himself. For as action-heavy as the novel is, there is still ample time for reflection and thoughtful narration by the author. The writing itself could use a bit of a polish, particularly in the structure of the sentences. Long stretches of short, choppy phrases become dull for the reader, and often remove the suspense or tension building in the story. Fortunately, it seems that the author loves research, and his scene-building is highly realistic, without packing the prose with exposition. In troubled times like the present, a book such as this serves as a reminder of the battles being fought on so many sides, both on the front lines and behind the scenes, in dark holding cells and back room negotiations. There is a moral urgency in this novel that makes it extremely timely and thought-provoking, two excellent qualities for new books in this day and age. In Island of the Assassin, Roccasalvo has created two engaging and believable characters who jointly struggle to find harmony in a discordant world. Watching these two men define themselves and sharpen the edges of their morality makes for a truly memorable read. A gritty and thought-provoking thrill ride.
    John Staughton
  • Reading this novella with your previous fiction in my head, I marvel that your work has evolved to this point. In Assassin you are there at exactly the same distance from the subject. Sometimes in the past you were perched on a tree. Now you are wholly present. And this work of fiction challenges the reader to consider questions about our world that are easier to push aside. What a depiction of the divided self. Any reader would quicken at the protagonist's moral dilemma. This novel was written with pain as well as joy, and I applaud what you have done. How could I stop midway. My admiration is happy for me too because I, who love and admire you so, am not always a fan of fiction. I don't like most of it. But this book is a marvel of stimulating ideas, subtle humor, and affecting situations. You know where to expand lushly and where to be brisk. Congratulations. Jane Merrill