Church of the Assassin (NEXUS Book 5)

Fiction - Science Fiction
312 Pages
Reviewed on 06/16/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Church of the Assassin is book five in the NEXUS series by Ross Harrison but can be read as a standalone novel. Packed with plenty of action, the story follows Alexiares who kills for a living. She is an assassin for her sect, but things take a bad turn when she experiences betrayal, becoming the hunted. It is a situation that gets even more complicated because she has inherited a baby girl whose life she is putting in danger. But she is not leaving the baby behind, even if her path is on a collision course with Intelligence officer Ryan Blake; even if strong and vicious enemies with sophisticated tools and powerful resources are after her and the baby. She has lived by the unwritten code of her sect: “Kill one to save a hundred” and “Shoot first.” This time she will kill a hundred to save one or die trying. But she’ll shoot first!

This is an engaging tale of a killer who makes a powerful shift in the story through circumstances. Before Baby came into her life, Alexiares only knew how to twist necks, break bones, shoot, and handle machines. Now something in her has changed, thanks to Baby. The connection between the protagonist and Baby is wonderfully written and the author does a superb job in exploring how motherhood can alter the way that a sociopath sees life. Ross Harrison plots like a genius, filling the story with twists that readers won’t see coming. The conflict is well-written, and I liked how the author explores the shadowy sect to which the heroine belongs, allowing its effects on her to shine through the story. There is a lot of violence and gore and action, and some scenes are not for the faint of heart. The setting has strong dystopian elements; it is a universe that is complex, featuring all kinds of criminals and social issues. Church of the Assassin is fast-paced, a real thrill ride and a brilliantly executed page-turner.

Alma Boucher

Alexiares (Alex) was trained from a young age by Pinky to be an assassin. When not on an assignment to kill someone Alex is under the hood of her car. Alex’s friend, Essa, asks Alex to take care of her baby if something should happen to her. When the owner of Myk’s bar and a boy from Alex’s neighborhood are killed by gangsters, Alex declares war on them. Her sect forbids Alex from killing any gang members, and she decides to act alone. The church orders a purge of Alex’s sect, and she manages to escape. Alex’s friend is killed during the purge, and she inherits Essa’s baby. The baby is Alex’s reason to kill anyone that threatens them and becomes her reason to live in Church of the Assassin by Ross Harrison.

Church of the Assassin is jam-packed with action, fast-paced, and never has a dull moment. The storyline is complicated and intriguing. Alternating chapters are dedicated to Ryan Blake and Alex; one chapter was a follow-on to the next. I never knew what to expect, and the suspense was killing me. Ross Harrison took me on a wild rollercoaster ride with a surprise waiting around every corner. The descriptive writing kept me engaged in the story, and the fighting scenes were vivid, leaving nothing to the imagination. My favorite character is Alex; she was raised to be a killing machine and does not hesitate to do so when necessary. She also possesses caring and loving characteristics, which allow her to take care of the baby. Church of the Assassin was worth every minute I spent reading it.

Alex Ndirangu

Ross Harrison's Church of the Assassin is an action-packed, suspense-driven tale where a purge has been initiated, and now hunters roam the streets in the dead of the night, pursuing their target, an assassin named Alexiares, and her entire sect. A few floors up, we find Alex in her apartment, awake on her bed with her eyes closed. She knows something is wrong and that it isn't safe. She can feel the hunter's glare on her face, waiting for the right moment to splatter her brains all over the sheets. Every fiber of Alex wants to leap out of bed and turn on the light, but she knows better. She must act now; within a split second, she throws her pillow and launches forward, slamming her knee into the hunter's chest. Alex might get the upper hand today, but a whole army of assassins will not stop until she is six feet under. Even worse, if anyone in her sect survives the purge, they could blame Alex for the disaster and come seeking blood.

I found Church of the Assassin to be spellbinding. Things get even more exciting when fate adds to Alex’s responsibilities. She inherited a baby girl and will run like the wind to keep her out of harm's way, but first, she will shoot, and she never misses. In this world, safety is a lie, and if you try to make a friend across the street or while having a drink at the bar, you risk making them a target. No wonder Alex had an antisocial demeanor. Ross Harrison's excellent ability to describe settings and immerse you in the story is undeniable. He transports you into the characters' pasts and personal lives, revealing the motivation that keeps them going. My favorite aspect of this book was watching Alex, a brutal assassin, develop a protective, gentle touch due to a new light and purpose shining on her life. The time when Alex is forced to cling to a rope to escape from her apartment was the highlight for me; I kept praying that she wouldn't find a gun barrel pointed at her head when she reached the rooftop. If you are looking for an epic adventure, then Church of the Assassin is the book for you.

Vincent Dublado

The fifth book in Ross Harrison’s Nexus Series, Church of the Assassin is a crisp and well-executed narrative about a femme fatale. Alexiares is trying to make sense of who and what she is. Because killing is a part of her life, she begins to question her place in the order of things when a deadly purge threatens her existence. She couldn’t help but notice that there have been more killings of late and she suspects that a powerful organization is ramping up its cleansing of the city. What she doesn’t expect is that she would become a target of her sect. It gets even more complicated when she becomes responsible for the welfare of a baby, as it isn’t logical to carry an infant about with hunters on your trail. But this baby may well give her a higher purpose.

This is the first book that I have read in the Nexus Series, and it works as a standalone. Church of the Assassin is a smart, hard-edged sci-fi action thriller with a condemned heroine who is anything but a cupcake. She goes into self-transformation, but she is reluctant to accept her new responsibility as her hands are only skilled at fixing cars and taking lives, rather than nurturing others. There are touching scenes in this action-packed story, particularly the way Alexiares tries to keep the baby alive and safe. Ross Harrison begins by exploring the life of a lethal assassin that evolves into a story of heroic transformation. It is a surprisingly moving sci-fi action novel with a compelling emotional arc. As Alexiares awakens to a purpose that is greater than her own, she will have to pay the price, and this is another story worth reading. I strongly recommend this book and the entire series to all readers who like grit and emotion in their sci-fi.

Sheena Monnin

Church of the Assassin by Ross Harrison follows the story of Alex and her cohort of specialized thieves and robbers as they navigate life on a planet far from Earth during a time of extreme upheaval, where the bad guys are not easy to define and the good guys have shady side dealings. She is used to traveling alone and winning every assignment that comes her way. That all changes when her closest friend is killed and her baby is left behind; they are hunted by the Church, a group that is a training ground for assassins. Meanwhile, law officer Blake is handling his first case and is determined to figure it out, despite the warnings of his fellow officers. Who will win the battles against those of questionable intent, and what desperate measures are justified?

Church of the Assassin by Ross Harrison is masterfully written. The reader will be neck-deep in the quagmire of lies, deceit, action, and murder from the very beginning of the story. Each maneuver of the characters moves the plot relentlessly forward with intrigue and complexity. I love the main character, Alex, and her will to live even when she doubts she can make it through another dangerous situation. She is relatable and brave. The author paints a world that I could easily see and feel part of and his details are cleverly placed and turn into clues later in the story. This is a hair-raising adventure book that is impossible to put down, containing great characters, an excellent plot, and thought-provoking themes throughout.

K.C. Finn

Church of the Assassin is a work of fiction in the science fiction, action, and adventure subgenres. It forms the fifth novel of the NEXUS series, but the work can also be read as a standalone piece. It is best suited to the mature teen and adult reading audiences owing to some moderate language, and it was penned by Ross Harrison. In this thrilling kill-or-be-killed high-stakes adventure, we meet Alexiares, an assassin whose life is thrown upside down when she is suddenly responsible for the life of an infant. When her path crosses that of intelligence officer Ryan Blake, the collision puts them both in the path of dangerous hunters, which only makes Alexiares even more determined to protect Baby at all costs.

Ross Harrison knows how to keep sci-fi fans on the edge of their seats with this fast-paced, cinematically drawn novel that never lets up on the action. The development of Alexiares as our central anti-hero offers a complex set of circumstances where we come to know a merciless assassin and understand her far more deeply than the typical action novel allows. Her relationship with Baby is unusual, yet emotionally relatable the more it develops, and there are palpable moments of tension where you know it’s all about to hit the fan that ramps up the suspense. The worldbuilding is off the scale for its depth, even down to the parlance and cultural attitudes of the characters, which gives Church of the Assassin an immersive quality throughout. This is a highly recommended and accomplished novel that grips readers hard and never lets go.