Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution, and institutionalized corruption, elite soldier Jez Kornfeld is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.
Ordered to disperse and arrest a crowd of Jewish demonstrators in Red Square, Jez is dismayed to find his sisters in their ranks. He sneaks them from under the noses of the secret police, but in doing so he has put his own security at risk; he has to get them out of the USSR. They cross into the Ukraine to a port on the Black Sea and he bribes passage for them from Soviet soil. Jez is happy in the knowledge that his sisters are safe, but he is unaware that his every move has been observed and that he has set in motion a chain of events that will plunge his life into a headlong battle to stay alive.
The story kept me wanting more information. I did enjoy the different inclusions of family life. The story line seems to show that corruption is everywhere and that blackmail will last like cockroaches.
Just after WWII, Jez Kornfeld, a young Jew whose maximum aspiration in life is joining the army, is wrongly led to the KGB headquarters when asking for the Red Army. He makes a good impression there and has a successful career. But in helping his family he will lose part of the privileges he had, and soon he will be involved in a case of prostitution and corruption, in which his own life will be in danger.
It took me a while to get into the story, but once I did I was hooked. This is an action packed thriller with interesting characters and an amazing plot, always moving forward, and with several twists and turns. This was not my typical book and I was afraid that I could have troubles to enjoy it, but I absolutely loved it.
We fist meet a fifteen year old Jez, still so young and full of illusions. His main goal in life is joining the army. The novel covers around twenty years, and in that time we witness a profound evolution in Jez. From that naive boy who joined the army, Jez became a real assassin, killing more easily each time. There will be a point which seems of no return for him, and he will have to challenge his wishes and beliefs.
There is a nemesis in this book, an evil character which will try to end Jez. He has his weak points too, he is human; but I really enjoyed how wicked he was, while still keeping it real.
And there is love too in this book. Yes, this book has it all! As you know, I am not keen on romance per say, but when it is so seamlessly intertwined with a story, and although important, it is kept on a second plane, I think it can give an extra layer of depth to the story. Here it helps to complete Jez's picture and makes the story more polished.
Dennis Kleinman's style perfectly suited the book. His voice and performance made me feel I was a witness to the story. He trapped me into it and I could not let it go. His interpretations were also spot on but I missed some more variety of voices. Sadly all characters sounded the same except for women. This is the only drawback for me, since all the other aspects of the narration were superb and the audio production was perfect.
As I have previously said, this book has it all: action, treason, corruption, friendship, and love. It is very well written and will delight everyone, even those who are not into military thrillers. I am looking forward to books two and three.
Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.
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1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Started ok, but by the middle became boring. Won't be buying the sequel for this.
What did you love best about Birth of an Assassin?
interesting story and plot kept me involved
Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?
yes. It was interesting to hear a story where the protagonist was a Russian assassin that you rooted for!
Which scene was your favorite?
the ending when he found out Anna was alive. Also when he killed his arch enemy in the street.
Any additional comments?
very good narration by Mr. Kleinman. Looking forward to more titles done by him
If you could sum up Birth of an Assassin in three words, what would they be?
A Jewish outlaw
Who was your favorite character and why?
I think Jez was the most interesting character as he had to choose between life and family and deciding who to sacrifice or kill.
What about Dennis Kleinman’s performance did you like?
His voice was excellent for this book. I thought his voice inflections for the different characters was great and as I would listen to the book at the gym, I could hear and feel each character.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Any additional comments?
I thought the book was good because it gave a good idea of what it was like to live as a Jew in post war Russia.
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Absolutely, yes. It was absorbing and compelling.
What did you like best about this story?
There is an ominous undertone throughout this historical thriller as Jez is drawn into the dark, dangerous world of espionage in Russia. The author gives a colourful insight into the terrain and the turbulence of the characters’ emotions are gripping. I can’t wait to read Rik Stone’s next book.
What does Dennis Kleinman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
The rich tones of the narrator, Dennis Kleinman, provide the gravitas needed to give additional weight to this powerful story. His performance immerses you so that you are not just listening to it, you are actually there……
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Sometimes sheer terror contrasted with the gentleness and caring of Jez at other times were very moving. Throughout, Jez's strength of character prevailed.
Any additional comments?
I was given this audiobook by the narrator in return for an honest review.
A book about Russia, that takes place in Russia with an English Narrator. Dennis Kleinman does an excellent job with the Narration but I would have preferred Soviet Accented Voice. That being said up front, Tim Stone has written an excellent book. I listen and see the books as a movie in my mind. This would be a great movie. The twists, deception and betrayal is legendary. This is one of the few books after listening to the audiobook I want to read the book again on paper.
A young Russian boy who is small and a threat to know one has a dream of being a soldier. He is Jewish but wants nothing more than to serve the Motherland. He is chosen by a General to be part of a secret program. He is taught in all the ways of the Special Forces fighting and weaponry. He is placed in the field of battle and excels. After being trained in intelligence he works a normal government job while spying on his own military for the military. It sounds confusing but really is explained and told in a way that is easy to follow.
I was surprised at how invested I was as a listener to the characters. I highly recommend this audiobook.