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The First Assassin

A book by John J. Miller

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A first novel to be proud of

  • Nov 20, 2009
I'm sure it won't escape anyone who notices the sudden explosion of one-star "reviews" of "The First Assassin" [on Amazon.com] how many of those so-called "reviews" are ad-hominems against the author, not reviews of the book. Those that do talk about the book rely on the excerpts posted here or on the author's own website, or (as another Amazon reviewer points out) on the comments of a particular blogger who evidently has it in for John Miller because of who Mr. Miller writes for. Readers interested in the book itself, instead of the author's politics, will know how to look past all that, and see the merits of which is in fact a pretty darn good first novel.

Most immediately impressive, of course, is the depth of John Miller's historical research. He's able to capture both the era and the people in it quite well. More significantly, however, he's been able to wrap that research around a well-crafted story, a plot that keeps the reader involved, and characters we can care about (contrast this, for people still looking for political bias, with the wooden characterizations in Newt Gingrich's Pearl Harbor novel Days of Infamy, where I would not have recognized his "Winston Churchill" as Winston Churchill if the author hadn't told us that's who he was). Is Miller's prose style to everyone's taste? No, of course not. But then, neither is any other writer's. Parts of "The First Assassin" could use some tightening, as the pros say. Some of the narrative passages, I'd like to have seen as dialogue instead ("Show them, don't tell them"). I'm confident future novels will be more polished -- and there will be future novels, won't there?

Look. This is a first novel. It's not flawless, but how many of us get to be J.D. Salinger and have our first novels called one of the great works of the century? The key thing is that John Miller's rookie effort is a remarkably good job. In fact, it's one any number of more experienced writers would be proud to have under their belts, and a novel people interested in the era, or just a well-crafted story, will find entirely worth reading -- regardless of the politically-motivated beatdown a handful of people try to give it.

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About the reviewer
Andrew S. Rogers ()
Ranked #362
Mostly, I'm a moderately prolific Amazon.com reviewer who's giving Lunch a try as another venue for my reviews.
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"An excellent book--it’s like The Day of the Jackal set in 1861 Washington." -Vince Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pursuit of Honor

"The First Assassin is one of the most exciting thrillers I have read in a long, long time. This is historical fiction at its best and John J. Miller is the hot new author everyone will be talking about." -Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Apostle

"The story moves with swift suspense, but Miller's real achievement is to take us inside a mindset nearly lost to time." -Andrew Klavan, author of Empire of Lies

"Utterly compelling, the novel sweeps the reader along multiple story lines which converge at one point, one moment, where history pivots on its axis. A skilled writer of non-fiction, Miller uses his knowledge and research to create a powerful thriller that is completely believable…There’s not a false note in the whole book." -Robert Ferrigno, author of Heart of the Assassin

--This text refers to an alternatePaperbackedition.
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ISBN-10: 1449532438
ISBN-13: 978-1449532437
Author: John J. Miller
Publisher: CreateSpace

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