March 17, 2008


The NCAA brackets come out on Sunday evening and we've got a bunch of books to give away, including the new novel, Sins of the Assassin, by friend Robert Ferrigno and Tony Horwitz's travelogue, A Voyage Long and Strange, courtesy of FSB Associates.

We'd like to try running the contest through Facebook and the ProTrade/SI Bracket Challenge this year. If you're already a member of Facebook just send a friend request to either Brother and we'll add you (we've applied to have added as a group also]. If there are strong objections to being sucked into such a trendy destination, let us know and we'll set up the CBS Sportsline pool too.

-EXCERPT: Chapter One of Sins of the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno
-INTERVIEW: One nation, under Allah: an interview with Robert Ferrigno (Orrin C. Judd, March 20, 2006, Enter Stage Right)
-REVIEW:One nation, under Allah : Robert Ferrigno might have played it safe, sticking to his California crime noir genre. Instead, he invented a whole narrative tapestry out of a future Islamic Republic of America, and the first two novels in the series are terrific (Arthur Chrenkoff, Pajamas Media)

Prayers was a creative risk for Ferrigno. Everyone had told him he was crazy to abandon the greener pastures of the contemporary West Coast crime novel for a politically incorrect dystopia, yet Prayers turned out to be the biggest best-seller of his career, widely acclaimed and translated, winning him a whole new cohort of fans. I guess the reading audience was ready, after all, for a thriller set in not too distant future where Islam dominates the globe, and the United States is no more, either as a superpower or even one nation, riven by a cold civil war between the Islamic Republic of America and the recalcitrant Bible Belt.

In Prayers we have first met Rakkim Epps, an ex-member of Fedayeen, the elite special ops force serving the President of the Islamic Republic, now a lapsed Muslim living in the unsavory underbelly of Seattle, the rain-soaked, depilated capital of the Republic. The book follows his quest to find the woman he loves, after she has suddenly gone missing in mysterious circumstances, but it progressively also turns out to be a quest to discover the truth behind the so-called Zionist Betrayal, the simultaneous nuclear terrorist attack on New York, Washington and Mecca. Supposedly staged by the Mossad, this outrage was the major catalyst for the transformation of the world as we know it into the Prayers world of 2040, where the Super Bowl at the Khomeini Stadium opens with public prayers, ruined Disneyland provides sordid haunt for prostitutes, while the Christian South seems to only produce narcotics, Coca-Cola and an assortment of petty warlords. We had fought the war on terror and the bad guys won, but their victory was won as much in the hearts and minds of millions as on the battlefields, which gives Ferrigno’s dystopia a more nuanced and disturbing quality.

Constructing a whole new reality that is believable, internally consistent and interesting is a task that many a writer has failed recently (The Resurrection Day and Romanitas spring to mind), but Ferrigno manages to carry it off as effortlessly as if he were still writing about the ever-familiar contemporary Southern California of his earlier novels. The world he has created is utterly convincing, a superb blend of the familiar and the surreal that avid blog readers and keen followers of contemporary events will in particular find mesmerizing. But what Ferrigno brings to the table is not just rich imagination, but also his trademark writing style; poignant, atmospheric, sharp as the blade of a Fedayeen knife. On his blog, Ferrigno writes that “while writing a novel, the author is a god. Me, I’m often a vengeful god.” Somehow, I can’t shake the thought that if the Almighty had written the Old Testament himself, rather than just dictating it, it would read just like a Ferrigno novel.

-REVIEW: of Sins of the Assassin ( David Forsmark,
Most readers of this column know the Canadian Human Rights Commission is persecuting [Mark] Steyn, a noted columnist and blogger. What's not so well known is that the complaint filed against Steyn points out he gave a good review to Ferrigno's novel, supposedly a "known Islamophobic book." In doing so, it is alleged, Steyn violated the complainants' "sense of dignity and self-worth."

This concerns me, as my first positive review of a novel for Frontpage after joining up in January 2006 was a rave review of Prayers, a darkly satiric and suspenseful actioner about a future in which most of America is governed as an Islamic republic after a terrorist nuclear attack and a brutal civil war.

Now, I'm about to become a repeat offender by reporting that Sins of the Assassin, Ferrigno's sequel to Prayers, is just as much fun, every bit as thought-provoking -- and potentially inflammatory -- as the first book in his planned trilogy.

-INTERVIEW: Four questions for Robert Ferrigno (Jeff Baker, March 03, 2008, The Oregonian)
Robert Ferrigno had a nice career going. He'd written eight crime novels set in Southern California that were lively, tough and funny. They got good reviews, readers loved them, and he made a nice living. Everything was great, until 9/11 happened and Ferrigno asked himself a simple question: What would happen if the terrorists won?

That question led to other questions. What would a Muslim America look like? How would it happen? How would it sustain itself? Ferrigno tried to answer the questions the way he knows best -- in the context of a thriller -- and found himself writing a planned trilogy that will take up five years of his life. The first book, "Prayers for the Assassin," came out two years ago. Its successor is "Sins of the Assassin."

Q: I heard your previous publisher dropped you when you turned in "Prayers for the Assassin."

A: In a heartbeat. And my agent was totally against it. She told me it was career suicide, and it turned out to be, in many ways, my most successful book. For the publisher, it was all about branding. I'd created a brand, and this didn't fit into it. I understand that kind of thinking, but I'm not interested in the logic of it. I lost some foreign sales. It wasn't published in Germany or Italy, where all my other books had been published, because of fear of defamation of religion suits, but it was published in places where I'd never been published before. The first big foreign sale was Turkey, then Russia, Taiwan, China.

-AUDIO INTERVIEW: Robert Ferrigno (John J. Miller, National Review: Between the Covers)
-INTERVIEW: Robert Ferrigno (Ali Karim, Shots)
Robert, congratulations on winning the Gumshoe 2007 for best Thriller for Prayers for the Assassin, how does it feel?

It's very enjoyable, particularly in light of the high calibre of the other authors nominated. I wish instead of actually naming a "winner", the nominees could just get together for dinner and drinks.

So tell us a little how you came upon this unusual story that would transform to become this ground-breaking novel?

I started it shortly after 9-11, when everyone was torqued and angry and certain that victory was easy. I started wondering, as author's with rather bleak points of view are wont, what would happen if the West lost? This was actually a radical position to take, the US having the greatest and most sophisticated war capability on the planet. So I tried to imagine how it could happen, and that led me to the belief that while we couldn't be defeated militarily, we could lose on a very different battlefield. We could lose because of an internal weakness, a failure of vision, a failure to see beyond the next television show, the next launch of some crap product designed to make our lives shiny and bright and fun fun fun. In a generation-long struggle, don't count on technology to win the war, it's going to take tenacity and strong belief. Most of us in the West have very short-term event horizons. Muslims fight to the death over theological differences that happened over a thousand years ago. Americans can't remember who won the Academy Award for Best Picture last year.

So that was the impetus, the potential for losing the war and the effect losing would have. I also wanted to write about a protagonist who has lost his faith and feels the loss acutely. A tough guy that has to continue on, making it up as he goes along, choosing right from wrong without any guidance other than his own morality. I had always wanted to write about this kind of character, and it's kind of ironic that when I finally did it, the faith he had lost was Islam.

-REVIEW: of Sins of the Assassin (Anthony Rainone, January Magazine)
While Book One was perhaps more politically jarring than Sins of the Assassin, given the closer proximity its publication had to America’s involvement in Iraq and the backdrop of September 11, 2001, Book Two has moved past the uniqueness of an American Islamic state, and it focuses instead on the republic’s sheer survival. And its survival is in doubt, no doubt about that. Having been flushed out of the Nevada Free State, the Muslim Old One is ensconced on a luxury cruise liner at sea, but his reach is long and deadly. His goal of controlling the Islamic Republic still burns hotly, and he has a diabolical plan in the works. Meanwhile, President Kingsley is negotiating with the Aztlan (Mexican) Empire to sell its government more land in the southwest for ready and desperately needed cash. What comes across in Book Two is that the republic doesn’t seem so extraordinary -- it wages covert operations, it has economic woes and it is extremely vulnerable to outside threats. The bravado and derring-do of Rakkim and Sarah gives the reader hope, but it will be interesting to see whether the republic can sustain its insularity, or perhaps have to make significant compromises to outside interests, such as to Colonel Smitts and his Catholic constituency.

Sins of the Assassin deftly mixes politics, religion and science-fiction elements into a pulsating thriller. Although the story line never gets bogged down, the repartee between Rakkim and computer genius Leo tends to become mildly distracting, and lush character expositions slow the tempo. Still, there isn’t a single moment when the reader is not entertained and engrossed in this new novel. Protagonist Rakkim Epps is being transformed before the reader’s eyes. He is not sure what is right or wrong anymore: he finds so-called enemies in the Bible Belt to be more friendly and interesting, than those in Islamic America care to recognize. He is increasingly unnerved by his deadly skills and begins to question what he’s asked to do on behalf of his government. And the Old One will not stop until he has killed Rakkim and Sarah and taken full control of Islamic America.

-REVIEW: of Sins of the Assassin (Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter)
SINS OF THE ASSASSIN contains violence, unrelenting and uncompromising, unbridled erotica (I’m still waiting for my eyeballs to come completely unsteamed) and memorable characters you will never forget. Most significantly, however, it is set in a world in which Ferrigno has seemingly accounted for every element, every nuance; a world that is so different from yet so very close to our own, simply without the official and acknowledged boundaries. Frightening, exhilarating and eminently readable from beginning to end, this is a book for all seasons.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 17, 2008 6:26 PM

I know this if pitiful but I don't even know what Facebook is.

Posted by: Bartman at March 11, 2008 10:57 AM

Well, I figured it out. Cant' utilize it at work. I'll have to sign up at home.

Posted by: Bartman at March 11, 2008 11:14 AM

Time to have to scroll down 6 screens in order to see if there's any real new content. Orrin, any chance of turning this entry into just a headline and a link off to the full story, so that new content is easily noted?

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at March 11, 2008 8:46 PM

Really disappointed previous commenters seem to be clueless. As I most always am.
Anyway, "Sins of the Assasin" is even now sitting on my "to be read" shelf, while I read Parker's "L.A. Outlaws".
Needed a change of pace as Berenson's "A Faithfull Spy", recently read, is somewhat "similar" to Ferrigno's book in that it describes a Muslim's moral challenges.
BTW, Berenson's sequel, "The Ghost War" resides next to "Sins" on the to be read shelf.
Hey, as long as I'm recommending books:
Robert Crais: "The Two Minute Rule". 4 star
David Stone: "The Echelon Vendetta". Not 4 star, but a really fun read!
And, for non-fiction, a five star must read:
Ian Toll's "Six Frigates".

Posted by: Mike at March 11, 2008 9:36 PM

You need to post a link to your profiles.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at March 14, 2008 12:45 PM

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2008 3:20 PM

The Other Brother

Posted by: The Other Brother at March 14, 2008 3:25 PM