The Story of My Assassins

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A crusading investigative journalist with a knack for seducing disproportionately hot women finds himself in trouble when he uncovers…

Tarun J Tejpal’s new novel The Story of My Assassins (available for pre-order now and on shelves next month) isn’t that book. It’s way better.

For one thing, it’s better written. Maybe I just think that because of the way it’s littered with wonderfully new and exciting Hindi profanities, but I’m pretty sure it’s because it’s actually just well written.

And while the narrator is not exactly a likeable guy, I feel that he’s more believably unsympathetic than the characters in a certain series of Scandinavian thrillers.

Here’s how it opens: Sunday morning, he goes to the office of his failing news magazine to get away from his wife. His wife calls, but he’s ignoring her. Co-workers call, but he doesn’t want to deal with work either. Eventually the police and his wife and several TV news crews arrive and tell him there’s been an attempt on his life and they’re going to have to put him under 24 hour police protection. He ducks away from them all and heads to his mistress’ house. He doesn’t tell her about any of this, and she finds out from watching the news. He’s not, in other words, very honest or good to his family, his co-workers, his career, or even his mistress.

He’s not even sure if there’s actually been an attempt on his life. Maybe there has. Maybe he’s being set up for notoriety and there will be some kind of a sting later. The most likely explanation, he thinks, is that the assassins are being set up, and he’s just a convenient pawn. Despite his reputation as an investigative journalist, he makes every effort to avoid knowing the truth, but it eventually seeps in around the edges. It whispers in his ear: This isn’t even about you. You’re just a coincidence.

Later, the book profiles the five maybe-assassins, tracing their rise and fall, the coincidences and ways that their lives, too, are beyond their control, that the plot and theme involve them but don’t actually care about them.

It’s kind of brutal like that. And kind of brilliant.

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