Heart of the Assassin

[Amazon Link]

This is the concluding entry of Robert Ferrigno's "Assassin" trilogy. To recap the scenario: the USA has disintegrated. A horrific dirty-nuke attack against major cities precipitated a civil war, resulting in the "Islamic Republic" in the North and West, the "Bible Belt" in the South, and a few other enclaves (Here's a map.)

Things are rapidly going downhill for the fractured nation. Fundamentalists condemn people to death for the slightest infraction of their hyper-sharianism. Much of the country is an anarchic mess, where life is even cheaper. The Aztlán Empire (née Mexico) is aggressing from the South. The evil mastermind behind the original attacks is still around, and has intentions of establishing a worldwide caliphate, not caring overmuch how much more mass murder he needs to engineer. He has vast riches, and an array of ruthless and resourceful henchpersons.

That leaves things looking pretty grim for our hero, Rakkim Epps. He's barely survived the first two installments in the series, but (fortunately) he's become an even more deadly killing machine. His task here is set for him by his lovely wife, Sarah: could he go to still-radioactive Washington D. C., in search of a valuable—one might even say sacred—artifact, hidden away in an abandoned secret bunker? Even for Rakkim, this is slightly more dangerous than running down to the 7-11 for a pint of Cherry Garcia.

Posts about the previous volumes in the series are here and here. Recommend you read them first.

This installment has the usual imaginative violence, suspense, and a sharply rendered array of colorful characters. Ferrigno plays things pretty straight, but (without spoiling things too much) when the Aztlan Empire decides to bomb a particular cultural shrine in the Bible Belt, even I said: OK, that's a little over the top.

Last Modified 2012-10-02 2:26 PM EDT

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Yorkshire is apparently not just the name of a kind of pudding, but an actual place in England. And back in the 1970s, it hosted a serial murderer known as the "Yorkshire Ripper". This inspired a series of four novels by English author David Peace, which (in turn) gave rise to a series of three BBC TV movies, of which this is the first. And Ridley Scott is (apparently) going to do a version set in the US of A. I got the first movie in the BBC trilogy via Netflix.

The protagonist, Eddie, is a journalist, slinking back to Yorkshire after a vague professional failure down south. He takes a job as a crime reporter for the local newspaper, and his first assignment is to cover the story of a missing young girl. He notices similarities to previous unsolved cases, gets curious, and starts poking around. Unfortunately, he meets up with a morass of unsavoriness: don't-rock-the-boat superiors, a corrupt and brutal police force, a shady developer, his loony wife, a homosexual prostitute, a reporter colleague who turns up dead in an "accident," the mother of one of the missing girls who knows more than she's telling. Eddie finds himself in well over his head.

It's all very bleak, dark, moody, and depressing. Eddie's not much of a hero. And (slight spoiler alert) there is no uplifiting, inspiring ending. Held my interest, but not really my cup of tea. Unfortunately, I have this compulsion: you see one movie in a trilogy, you really have to see them all, right? So, eventually…

Last Modified 2012-10-02 2:26 PM EDT