I love to watch how writers mature and gain confidence. Rarely though do I have the luxury of reading a set of books back to back. UK author Chris Elgood afforded the opportunity.  It began with Accidental Assassin, followed by He Only Died Twice, and now The Eager Apprentice.

Chris Elgood has opted to stay with his same main characters, and with each book he has enriched them. At center stage is Nshila Ileloka, a very successful businesswoman who was born and raised in central Africa, and found opportunity in the UK.  However there is more to Nshila than meets the eye, she is an assassin!

I rather like the way that Chris Elgood has crafted Nshila, she is an assassin like no other. She shuns the normal tools of the trade, high powered rifles, preferring instead far more creative methods that leave the impression of accidental death. She is also a killer with scruples. The target must deserve to die for his or her crimes. Often these are people that for one reason or another seem above the law.

She also has a very dark secret, while growing up in Africa she was befriended by the village Witchdoctor, she was in effect the sorcerers apprentice. She brings these black arts to her work. Chris Elgood does this in a very elegant way, the witchcraft aspect is not overpowering, it is merely an adjunct to the narrative. He has a cunning way of leaving the reader wondering if an event was happenstance or the result of witchcraft.

The Eager Apprentice finds Nshila with a problem, when one day someone from her past unexpectedly drops by. Fred Mbwele had been involved with an earlier mission. He had played no role, and was nothing more than ‘cover’. However Fred was smart lad, and unknown to Nshila had seen more than he was supposed to.

His approach is simple, he doesn’t want money, nor has he any interest in Blackmail, he merely wants to become Nshila’s apprentice! Should she take the chance of admitting Fred to her hidden world? A secret is no longer secret when it is shared. And the world of an assassin is indeed a very secretive one. To turn him away however might have consequences, an unhappy Fred could be a source of trouble down the road. Yet to admit a beginner into the dark arts could also be fraught with danger. One option would be to eradicate him, yet that would very much go against her principles, Fred hardly met the criteria for removal.  So Nshila takes the risk and Fred is in!

The Eager Apprentice is a lively read. Nshila must deal with the overly keen Fred while also juggling a complex and high profile assassination of a middle eastern prince with ties to the terrorist world.

You can get your own copy by using the Amazon link above.

Simon Barrett

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