Review: Three Assassins by Kōtarō Isaka

Three Assassins Kotaro Isaka Penguin Books Roelia Reads Book Reviews About the book

(from Penguin Random House SA):

“Their mission is murder. His is revenge. A propulsive thriller from the prizewinning author of Bullet Train.

Suzuki is just an ordinary man until his wife is murdered. When he discovers the criminal gang responsible he leaves behind his life as a maths teacher and joins them, looking for a chance to take his revenge. What he doesn’t realise is that he’s about to get drawn into a web of unusual professional assassins, each with their own agenda.

The Whale convinces his victims to take their own lives using just his words.
The Cicada is a talkative and deadly knife expert.
The elusive Pusher dispatches his targets in deadly traffic accidents.

Suzuki must take each of them on, in order to try to find justice and keep his innocence in a world of killers.”

Read an extract

Three Assassins Kotaro Isaka Penguin Books Roelia Reads Book Reviews My Thoughts:

(Spoiler-free, as always!)

I’ve heard so much about the author’s previous release “Bullet Train” (although I haven’t had the pleasure of reading it yet).  After I started reading “Three Assassins” I also came to realise that this book was originally published in Japanese several years ago, but was translated into English only recently.  Also “Three Assassins” is the prequel (first in a trilogy?) of “Bullet Train”.  But, you didn’t have to read “Bullet Train” before delving into “Three Assassins”.

It starts off like this:

Looking out at the city, Suzuki thinks about insects. It’s night but the scene is ablaze with gaudy neon and streetlamps. People everywhere. Like a writhing mass of luridly colored insects. It unsettles him, and he thinks back to what his college professor once said: ‘Most animals don’t live on top of each other in such great numbers. In some ways, humans are less like mammals and closer to insects.’ 

One of those paragraphs that makes you want to grab your annotation kit!   And there are loads more note-worthy and border-line philosophical gems like this.

This story is fast-paced, and action-packed with well-developed characters.   It is told from the various key players’ point-of-view (Suzuki, the Whale and Cicada). The result is a dark and atmospheric tale of revenge, murder and suspense – with a clever story-line and exciting plot twists.

What to look forward to:

  • compelling storylines
  • character-driven
  • fast-paced
  • contemplative
  • addictive narrative

I throughly enjoyed this book!

Thank you to Penguin Random House SA for the opportunity to read this book, in exchange for an honest review.