This first book in the Crail Assassin series by Rachel Wright should probably be a prequel, given that many of the characters seem to wind up their stories by the end. There are a lot of odd choices by the author which make Tikopia a frustrating read, even though it’s enjoyable overall.
Wright has a nice, easy-to-read style with some good characterisations but the problems begin with the author’s introduction to explain that her island of Tikopia, the getaway home of her wealthy main characters, is located in the same region as the real island of Tikopia but they’re not the same. Her island is fictional. Why then, not just change the name of the island to avoid the disclaimer? Or change the situation so the characters share the land with the actual island’s inhabitants?
The story centres primarily around Louisa Clayman, an assassin for hire who is known only as Crail. Her brothers form part of the business, with one being a hacker and the other, an accountant who launders their income through dummy companies and maintains the front of a legitimate security firm. Louisa’s main foe is her boyfriend’s best friend, who seems an unworthy adversary for such a skilled killer, while the side plot of fellow assassin, Akela, takes a direct path to the conclusion with no surprises.
The action of Tikopia is nicely written, albeit with one too many typos. The way Louisa preys on her victims is both believable and interesting. The story becomes an issue however, when we invest our time and emotions into a cast of central characters who won’t continue into future novels. As a reader, this robs from any emotional connection to the series and leaves little impetus to continue with it. Reader loyalty is lost when they have to begin the emotional journey all over again with the next novel.
In an established series, Tikopia would fit well as a backstory to the Crail Assassin, but as an opening novel, it doesn’t make me want to grab Book 2. Given the promise of Wright’s storytelling skills, that’s a shame.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 5
Released by: Amazon Australia
RRP: $1.68 eBook