Book 2 in the Assassin series, Revenge of the Assassin is the breakneck-paced sequel to the bestselling international thriller King of Swords. When El Rey, the super assassin responsible for Latin America's most spectacular hits, returns to Mexico for one final sanction, the race is on for Captain Romero Cruz of the Federales to stop him before he can fulfill his contract to kill the president. Revenge will delight fans of King of Swords, and offers the same gritty, unpredictable ride of thrills, twists and surprises before arriving at a conclusion that is sure to leave readers gasping.
Question and Answer with Russell Blake
Q: Revenge of the Assassin chronicles another El Rey adventure. Why the fixation with this contract killer?
RB: El Rey is one of those characters you hate, but you are fascinated by. Rather like Hannibal Lector. He's a cold blooded sociopath who kills without remorse, but he's really, really interesting. The more I wrote about him in King of Swords, and then the prequel to that book, Night of the Assassin, the more the character grew on me, and the more I wanted to see him in action. That, and the natural adversarial tension that had developed in King between Captain Cruz and El Rey seemed like it wasn't over yet. Revenge is the answer to the question, "What happens next?"
Q: Your portrayal of cartel violence in Mexico is disturbing. Is it really that bad?
RB: My depiction is accurate, and if anything, is the tame version. Something like 15,000 people died in 2011 alone due to cartel violence. Those kinds of numbers are usually associated with civil wars or armed insurgency. The cartels are de facto governors of some regions of Mexico, and the government, like that of Colombia, simply shrugs its shoulders and won't go into those areas - or if it does, it goes in like the U.S. does in Iraq, cocked and loaded in an invasion mode. That's alarming when it's within its own borders. The situation is out of control in many areas, and is a direct function of the money being made trafficking drugs to the largest market in the world: the U.S. I wish I could see it getting better anytime soon, because I love living here in Mexico, but I'd be lying.
Q: I saw recently that your sales have gone parabolic since 2012 began. What do you attribute that to?
RB: I saw over 100K downloads Jan-March, many of which were King and Night of the Assassin, which continues to see tens of thousands of downloads every month. Also, I released The Voynich Cypher, a Dan Brown style thriller, and it launched with tremendous strength. But oddly, popularity of the titles ebbs and flows, and what was popular in January isn't what was most popular in March, and I can predict that whatever is big in June won't be my top seller in November. It seems like more fans are discovering the whole catalog of thrillers I've released, and word of mouth is building and creating greater visibility. I've been very fortunate so far, and I pray that continues.
Q: What's next for El Rey? Is this it for him?
RB: No. There are more adventures coming. I'm currently working on the next installment, Return of the Assassin, which will be out by summer, 2012. And I expect at least two more in the series by year's end. These are just really interesting characters to me, so I feel compelled to write about them. While my head is in that place, I want to get the stories out, before the muse goes dark or moves to something else.
Q: What books would you advise readers who have never read your work to check out?
RB: If they are into Raiders of the Lost Ark/Da Vinci Code adventure thrillers, The Voynich Cypher. If they like Day of the Jackal, get King of Swords. And if they want something altogether different, I'd say try The Geronimo Breach, Fatal Exchange. Can't go wrong with any of those, and they are all very different approaches to the suspense thriller genre.