Framed against the backdrop of present-day Mexico's brutal narco-trafficking violence, Night of the Assassin chronicles the making of a monster - a cold-blooded, ruthless killing machine. Raw, disturbing, edgy and unflinching, this epic saga defies convention to create a roller-coaster of intrigue, suspense and thrills that will leave even the most jaded thriller aficionados gasping for breath.
Best if read after King of Swords, Night was written to provide background on El Rey, with the assumption that the reader is already familiar with the events in King of Swords
Q & A for Night of the Assassin
Question: Night of the Assassin uses bloody, shocking imagery. Why write the novel that way?
Russell Blake: I wanted to write a no-holds-barred Maserati of a book, with unexpected twists & turns that left you afraid to turn off the lights, with your stomach in knots. Mexico's drug war leaves over 8 thousand people dead every year from cartel violence. I wanted to capture that lurid, blood-soaked reality & make it visceral, make it real for the reader, & also leave them feeling like they'd been through a tangible experience. I used a variety of techniques to achieve that, & the evocative scenes are one of them. There are a few images that will have readers gasping & will cause nightmares, so this isn't for the faint of heart.
Q: Night of the Assassin is the prequel to King of Swords. Why write this after that novel was released?
RB: The villain of KOS is El Rey, the assassin who uses the tarot card, the King of Swords, as his signature. He has no redeeming qualities and yet he's a fascinating character. After I finished writing KOS I couldn't get him out of my head, so I immediately started writing Night. It was like a compulsion. I couldn't shake it. I got it onto paper as immediately as I could, so I wouldn't lose the essence of his character. The result, I've been told, does KOS justice. It's the second book in the series, but timing-wise, is the prequel in that it is all about El Rey's background.
Q: Night of the Assassin is set in Mexico, as well as Australia. The descriptions are extremely vivid. Have you ever been there?
RB: I live in Mexico, so the descriptions better jump off the page. And I spent a lot of time knocking around Australia. I'm more than passingly familiar with all the locations in the book.
Q: Some of the scenes are so graphic they make you wince. Have you gotten flack for that?
RB: I had a few readers say they were reading between their fingers as they hid their eyes. That tells me I did my job as a storyteller. I think good fiction should take you out of reality, & some of the scenes in Night stay with you long after the book's done. The scenes are paced for specific effect, & I like how they wound up working.
Q: You start the book with a series of flashbacks. Why?
RB: Night is a prequel, so the novel's purpose is to impart important information about El Rey's history. You either do that by alluding to the past in a scene set in the present, or as a flashback. I chose flashbacks because these are seminal moments deserving of their own sections. If they're disorienting at first, trust me that they will make sense by the end of the book. It's written that way for deliberate effect.