4.5 Stars, but I'm rounding up here. Psst... I apologise in advance to my GR buddies for a too long review, I couldn't help myself - sowwwy.
Chance Assassin is Nicole Castle’s debut novel and it is superb. A clever and twisted highly amoral love story - and it is a love story. Just like Natural Born Killers with Micky & Mallory was a love story (ha!) So too is the story of Frank and Vincent. I mean, murdering sociopaths get to fall in love too, don’t they?
The story begins with 16 year old Vincent freezing, bleeding and quite possibly dying when a ‘job’ goes horribly wrong. After making his way back to ‘safety’ he quite literally falls into the arms of the most handsome man he’s ever seen - the man of his dreams. Frank.
Their eyes meet and everything
changes … “I felt a sense of calm wash over me, like the end of a horror show when a commercial comes on to advertise exactly what you need, and suddenly the world is safe and warm and you don’t even have to make up your mind what to eat because of course it’s Snickers and always has been.”
See, totally a love story! Strange, twisted and quirky – it’s my favourite kind.
So, long story made short: Frank is a dark assassin, and Charlie is his handler who wants Vincent dead and Frank? Well …. He likes the mouthy suggestive kid who has more than intrigued him. So he hides Vincent from Charlie and takes him on the road, assuming the role of Vincent’s protector and later his mentor.
The relationship is a power struggle of sorts: Frank tries to keep Vincent innocent and Vincent wants to learn the trade, but more than that he wants in Frank’s pants. “The idea that Frank was a murderer discouraged my affections less than the knowledge that he hated me. In fact, I was flattered”
Vincent’s fearless tenacity and teasing charm leaves Frank helpless, and thus Vincent becomes V – assassin in training. He’s a natural.“I really wanted to see him kill again. I salivated at the thought of it. And more than that, I wanted in on the action.”
Now don’t judge V a lunatic from that quote alone please. That’s just his kink and he really doesn’t have a moral code in regard to death. That’s just the way he is, and I can’t blame him.
Vincent’s past is a disturbing one, which I’ll leave for him to tell you about because nobody tells it like Vincent – with detached matter of fact witticism that packs more punch than any sob story. It’s a wonder that he’s still alive really. Alive, but not unaffected.
Vincent is kind of nuts, and the sexy but very scary Frank is an enigma all his own. I’m not about to spoil your fun because discovering them for yourself is the best part. But I will say is that V is funny, loving and deadly - a cute crazy-arsed killer without an ounce of remorse, and I loved him. Frank is the perfect anti-hero: dark, introverted, intelligent, cold blooded killer, sociopath, compulsive obsessive, sexy like the devil makes sexy, paranoid and fiercely protective.
Vincent and Frank are a psychologist’s wet dream; both are uniquely multi-faceted characters who seized my attention absolutely.
The relationship dynamic is disturbing, witty, sexy, scary and sometimes sick. But it’s theirs and theirs alone. You’ll never come across another one like it.
I loved being inside Vincent’s head; every thought is a unique perspective without consequence or repercussion. His vanity never outweighs his shame and his masochism is as much a source of discomfort as it is humour. “It took all my concentration not to get an erection now that he was being mean to me again. He was really fucking sexy when he was hostile.”
I love uncovering the reason and psychology of socially deplorable characters like Frank and Vincent. Think of Bonnie & Cylde and Micky & Mallory – couples that do bad shit. Their stories are epic and will remain icons forever, no matter how badly they behave. There is murder here and not everyone they kill deserves it, but they are assassins and they got a job to do.
This story might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and a few of V’s kinks are a bit hard to stomach but it never bothered me much. The story is too fascinating, too fresh and just too damn good for me to give a monkey’s about morals and how I should feel about it – I don’t care. I’m too much of a Quentin Tarantino fan to care.
The author has done an awesome job and I treasured every word of V’s narrative, right up until the 85% mark.
The tempo changes and the unwelcome arrival of new characters at this point spoils the mood for me, I couldn’t see a reason for it. Perhaps only to establish a sense of jolly normalcy? Who wants normal when we’ve lived through this epic adventure of murder and mayhem? I don’t. I want guns and glory - not normal!
It just means that for me this novel went from being potentially magnificent, to simply splendid - hence not quite the full 5 stars.
Chance Assassin: A story of Love, Luck and Murder. That’s exactly what this story is about: Love, Luck and Murder - don’t think that the cover is metaphorical either, nope - you can interpret that quite literally.
Chance Assassin is not without flaws but I don’t care. I’ll recommend it for those who can wave goodbye to their morals with the middle finger raised.
Nicole Castle has done a sterling job and I will be stalking her relentlessly to see what she delivers next.‘Do you want to die? ‘I asked, terrified that he’d say yes.” For you? With you? Willingling. Otherwise,no. Not anymore.”
… yeah, totally a love story *sigh***End Note: My stalking pays off and Nicole Castle is working on a sequel (YAY!) Which gives that ending a lot more weight. **