A Book Spy Review: ‘Assassins Anonymous’ by Rob Hart


Rob Hart serves up a gripping, fast-paced thriller that takes readers on a rollercoaster ride through the murky world of assassins, redemption, and the struggle to break free from one’s violent past.

Pale Horse—it’s a name that, when said, usually means people are about to stop breathing. Sometimes in bunches. The most notorious and lethal contract killer on the planet, Mark, a former military operator turned CIA hitter, has now laid down his weapon and has sworn off a life of violence for good. Fifteen years of taking out targets can do a number on one’s mental health, and now, Mark is determined to re-enter society as a normal person. That means doing normal things, like group therapy. Unlike normal people, though, Mark’s support system comes by way of Kenji, his former associate, who not only helped him disappear and start a new life but invites him to partake in Assassins Anonymous, a 12-step group where reformed hitmen swap stories and help each other function as everyday beings.

Just as he’s coming up on his first big milestone—almost a whole year without killing anyone—Mark is savagely attacked by an unknown assassin. In the immediate aftermath, Mark’s head swirls with questions. Most notably, who’s after him? Could it be an old enemy? The agency he once worked for? And who else might come for him next?

Needing answers, Mark sets out to chase down any lead he can find, all the while adhering to his pledge of no more killing. But getting answers without going full bang-bang proves challenging. He’ll have help in the form of his new fellow reformed killers, sure, but doubts about whether or not he can trust them to linger . . . while his hopes of staying “sober” quickly dwindle.

Rob Hart is a master storyteller. If that wasn’t already clear (and it should have been), it is now, as he successfully blends action with moments of reflection, creating a story that not only entertains but also explores human flaws, asks questions, and will keep you flipping pages at a blazing clip. Hart, who writes in first-person, allowing readers to hear Mark’s story from the recovering hitman himself, could have played this concept out a few different ways. Going heavy on the tongue-in-cheek references, leaning on humor and sarcasm, could have worked. So, too, would a plot where Mark, ala Mr. Wick, embraces his inner Baba Yaga and ruthlessly starts whacking everyone who crosses his path, killing his way to the top. But we’ve seen those takes before, right? Instead of coasting down either of the far more traveled roads, Hart forged his own path and, in doing so, delivered a truly unique story that, in an odd way, is incredibly thought-provoking. There’s some deep-diving into the world of contract killing, and Hart even works in a good amount of backstory and flashbacks to better help readers understand the man once known as Pale Horse. Still, his fans will hope this is only the beginning of much more from Mark, and one can only guess what Hart, who’s already thought up a number of intriguing and fresh book ideas (looking at you, The Warehouse, 2019; you too, Paradox Hotel, 2022), might conjure up next.

Beyond its action-packed exterior, Assassins Anonymous explores themes of grief, vengeance, and the consequences of a violent past as Rob Hart takes readers on a blistering, globe-trotting adventure they won’t soon forget. Fans of John Wick and The Continental should run to grab this one the second it’s available.

Book Details

Author: Rob Hart
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0593717392
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: June 11, 2024



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, is also in bookstores, and his third book, OUT FOR BLOOD, comes out on June 4th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. To interact with other readers and talk about your favorite books and authors, join The Real Book Spy’s Discord server.


Facebook Comments