Book Review: Citizen Kill by Stephen Clark

CitizenKillAbout the Book

When a devastating explosion kills the new President’s young son, her administration seeks to finally end the war on terror. CIA black-ops agent Justin Raines is among the recruits in a new program that targets for assassination U.S. citizens suspected of radicalizing Muslims. Haunted by a botched assignment overseas, Justin is determined to redeem himself through the program. But when he is assigned to kill a mysterious Muslim educator that he believes is innocent, he grows disillusioned. Now he must find a way to prove her innocence and derail the program before they both are assassinated. This explosive political thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat as Washington stops at nothing to protect the nation from terrorists, while Justin Raines risks everything to protect the nation from Washington.

Format: Paperback Publisher: WiDo Publishing Pages: 274
Publication: 4th July 2017 Genre: Thriller    

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My Review

The author has created an exciting story based around the contemporary issue of Islamist terrorism, how to respond to and prevent it. In response to a bombing outrage at the Presidential inauguration in which the President’s young son is killed, the President is persuaded the way to prevent further outrages is to extend the CIA’s focus beyond suspected terrorists to the suspected influencers of terrorism. Those on the list will be ‘neutralized’ by a select team of trained assassins – there will be no trials or judicial process. The program is named Operation Prevent which will be ironic to UK readers as the UK government’s anti-radicalisation programme is called ‘Prevent’ and certainly does not include ‘neutralization’ of its citizens (as far as we know).

Emotionally scarred from the loss of his fiancée during an overseas operation that went wrong, and languishing on administrative leave with too much time to dwell on past events and hit the bottle, Justin Raines is assigned to the program. Initially unquestioning about the morality of his assignment, Justin begins to have doubts about the guilt of the people he has been sent to ‘neutralize’.   These doubts about what he is being asked to do become absolute certainty when he encounters his next target, Zahra al Sharif, the female founder of a Muslim school.   Influenced by his growing personal feelings for Zahra, Justin embarks on a path that will bring him up against everything those in government who sponsor the program can throw at him. He turns from assassin to target and will need to draw on all his craft if he and Zahra are to escape with their lives. But in situations like that, who can you trust?

Given recent events, I found the premise of the novel quite chilling; the idea that a secret program could be operating beyond the bounds of the laws that we trust to protect us. I was pleased the author cast a woman as President although I would have liked her to play a more central role. I thought Zahra was a really believable character and the suspicion that fell on her simply because of her religion, family background and educational establishment highlighted the current issues that many Muslims must face. The speed with which her relationship with Justin developed was a little less convincing for me – not quite ‘instalove’ but pretty close. However, I liked the fact that she didn’t play a passive role in the action.

I enjoyed the book, especially its topical theme, and would place it in my ‘plane, train and automobile’ category. In other words, it would definitely keep you well entertained on a long plane or train journey – the time would just fly by. I thought this was a very promising debut – fast-paced, action-packed and entertaining.

I received an advance reader copy courtesy of the author in return for an honest review.

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In three words: Topical, action-packed, chilling

Try something similar…Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

StephenClarkAbout the Author

Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of

Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son.  He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arcadia University and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Citizen Kill by Stephen Clark

  1. “The speed with which her relationship with Justin developed was a little less convincing for me – not quite ‘instalove’ but pretty close. However, I liked the fact that she didn’t play a passive role in the action.” On the nose — wish I’d remembered to say that when I posted about the book.


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