The Fornax Assassin

Fiction - Thriller - Conspiracy
328 Pages
Reviewed on 07/29/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Olga Markova for Readers' Favorite

The Fornax Assassin by J.C. Gemmell is a captivating blend of dystopia, science fiction, crime fiction, and conspiracy thriller. For twenty years, the lethal Fornax virus has been raging in Britain. Desperate to contain the pandemic, the British Government isolates every person infected with the Fornax virus on Fornax Island. Hours after promising to close Fornax Island, the Prime Minister was assassinated. Solicitor Davy Malik travels to Fornax Island to defend Naval Nurse Sam Jueves, who was arrested for the murder of the Prime Minister. Meantime, Davy’s sister Rachael was diagnosed as a carrier and faces isolation on Fornax Island. Davy hopes to help Rachael using his military connections on Fornax Island. Before long, Davy and Rachael discover a mind-boggling political conspiracy.

The Fornax Assassin by J.C. Gemmell gripped me with the action-packed, suspenseful intrigue. J.C. Gemmell raises highly topical and relatable issues, such as the fusion of business and politics and the threats posed by pandemics, making this work of fiction a thought-provoking read. The prevailing dialogues make this story an easy and fast read. But most of all, I liked the character-driven intrigue full of duplicity and deceitful impersonations that created the story’s world full of surprising revelations and discoveries and the atmospheric portrayal of Fornax Island and the nearby forts interlaced with the thoughts and feelings of the characters. This intriguing page-turner caters to science fiction, dystopia, crime fiction, and political thriller fans who will surely enjoy its twists and turns.

Jamie Michele

The Fornax Assassin by J.C. Gemmell is set in a futuristic society threatened by the Fornax variant and where the assassination of the Prime Minister has created chaos. Solicitor Davy Malik navigates this turbulent landscape with concern for his sister Rachael, who is set to be relocated to Fornax Island. Malik is handling the case of Sam Jueves, a Naval Nurse arrested in the aftermath of the assassination, fueling his determination to uncover the secrets of Fornax Island and potentially infiltrate it legally to help the Contagious Untreatables (CUs) held there. Malik explores the island, encountering various individuals and uncovering suspicious activities, including a potential cure for the Fornax variant contradicting British policies. Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Rachael Medwin investigates the Prime Minister's assassination and the deaths on Fornax Island, determined to uncover the truth and locate her brother. The paths of Malik and Medwin intersect as they strive to expose the government's mistreatment and protect their loved ones, leading to dangerous confrontations and unexpected alliances.

I really, really enjoyed The Fornax Assassin by J.C. Gemmel. Malik is a character that is both complex and incredibly human. He has trouble tying his bow tie, especially when he suspects he's in a net of deception, but let the guy make his own way out of an airborne plane and watch him descend into glory. His sister Rachael is equally commanding and her ability to keep on the trail in investigating the PM's assassination and what she pieces together adds a well-layered subplot. She is used as a pawn but is smart enough to know it, and holds her cards tight as a defacto hostage, which makes us wonder who ultimately has the upper hand. The best of the best in Gemmell's writing is the descriptive imagery and Fornax Island itself. The dichotomy between the island's vibrant community and the dark reality of the island's CUs, the reasons for which Gemmell reveals at a measured pace, are exceptional. Political and ethical questions are raised, and there is a total disparity between classes. This is never more apparent than when we are shown a luxurious executive fort with five-star luxury and a three-star worthy restaurant after having toured prefabricated houses and Aaron Buchan's wooden shack. Gemmel has written a book with plenty of directions it can explore, and I look forward to seeing what comes from their pen next.

Stephanie Chapman

J.C. Gemmell’s The Fornax Assassin focuses on the response to a pandemic caused by a variant of the deadly Fornax virus. Great Britain’s answer was to exile all people who were carriers of the disease to Fornax Island. Davy Malik was a solicitor whose sister had been diagnosed as an asymptomatic carrier. Davy worked for the military exclusively and didn’t know how to save Rachel. He was given a case relating to Chief Petty Officer Naval Nurse Sam Jueves who was confined to Fornax Island. The Navy blamed Jueves for the assassination of the prime minister. Davy accepted the assignment, hoping to help Rachel, and flew to the island by helicopter. When he found that Jueves has no charges to answer, Captain Gresik offered him what appeared to be an undercover job as a Lieutenant Commander. Meanwhile, Rachel’s job as a detective was taking her to Fornax Island to investigate a murder.

J.C. Gemmell built suspense and intrigue throughout the story. Fornax Island sounded good at face value, but there was a catch, as neither Davy nor Rachel knew what they were getting themselves into. Jueves was a perplexing character because there was never a solid answer as to why the Navy hired Davy. Nobody offered a straightforward explanation, and the mystery had me reading every word to find out who the killer was. Rachel’s investigation resulted in revelations that made the story unpredictable. The end of the story floored me. The amount of detail given to each character’s personality showed how complex each person was. The buildings on the island were described vividly, as well as the terrain features. It allowed me to envision every scene. If you like mysteries that are difficult to solve, The Fornax Assassin is the perfect book.