Book Review: Eoin Colfer’s Reluctant Assassin

Posted May 2, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Eoin Colfer’s Reluctant Assassin

Reluctant Assassin

on May 7, 2013 and has 352 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

First in the W.A.R.P. (Witness Anonymous Relocation Program) sci-fi fantasy series for middle-grade readers revolving around Chevron Savano and young Riley and taking place in London between today and 1898.

My Take

This was fascinating! Colfer has completely twisted time travel and secret agents, coming up with a unique approach to both. He is an artist in his introduction of his concept for this story; his colorful, exotic characters; and, the mechanics of the traveling.

Combine this with his descriptive genius that pulls me into turn-of-the-century London with its “aromas” and the clever depictions of both sides of the law in The Reluctant Assassin and…well, all I can say is that I haven’t stopped thinking of this story since the day I read it. Sure, it’s gets a bit hokey, but I can’t deny Colfer’s excessive imagination and his ability to write a vivid picture.

One of my disconnects in this story is Chevron’s being an FBI agent at the age of 16, even if she isn’t seriously considered one. If she isn’t, then why are they employing her at all? She’s written as being a smart person, so is it only her youth that keeps her from being smart enough to wonder why she could possibly be “on a fast track to becoming a real agent”? And why would she want to work for an agency that keeps trying to weasel out from under their agreements?

Reading about Orange tap-tap-tapping his way back to the past with his clunky keyboards makes me think just a little bit steampunk. Then Riley and his thoughts about Chevie’s plans…too funny.

If this is the first time Garrick comes forward, how can there be many of his enemies in our time?

Oh, man, Colfer really knows how to crank up the evil against Chevie and Riley. That’s got to be one of the keys in writing a good story you can’t stop reading: a seemingly unstoppable villain. With an unstoppable set of twists!

The Story

Riley’s master forces him to kill an old man in his bed, but a trap pulls Riley into the time machine which spews him out in London where Chevron Savano is keeping watch.

Where she learns the concept of the Witness Anonymous Relocation Program, and how it all went awry between greed, fear, and paranoia.

To fix it, she’ll need the Timekeys, preferably before Garrick absconds with them.

The Characters

Chevron Savano is a very young not-quite-FBI agent with a task to accomplish in London. Now if only she could lose the attitude and get smart.

Young Riley is forced into an apprenticeship with Garrick. One he’s tried to escape so many times already. And Ginger Tom keeps appearing in his dreams.

Special Agent Lawrence Witmeyer is Chevie’s boss in the FBI office in L.A. Cord Vallicose was her instructor at Quantico. Colonel Clayton Box with Special Forces likes the idea of the box for black ops. Duff is a friend of Valicose’s.

FBI in London
Agent Orange is her boss in London with W.A.R.P.; he’s also Professor Felix Smart. Charles Smart is his father and the missing quantum physicist. Waldo, a.k.a., Special Agent Waldo Gunn, operates the safehouse in London, the suite at the Garden Hotel.

Terrence Carter is one of the W.A.R.P. witnesses lost in the past.

Victoria is Charles’ friend and runs an antique shop as she waits for him, his last trip. And it just makes me want to cry.

Albert Garrick was an illusionist — known as the Great Lombardi — who discovered his joy of the dark side. Now he fulfills his desires with assassination. Sabine was the old Lombardi’s assistant and became Albert’s as well. Until.

The Battering Rams
Otto Malarkey (I am enjoying Colfer’s choices of names!) is the mister-master of the Battering Rams, a criminal gang of bully boys. His own walking signpost of all the possibilities, *chuckling cheekily*. Mr. Percival, Turk, and Pound get their contract to fulfill — they’ve never failed yet. Golgoth‘s little brother is the behemoth who isn’t going to fight Chevie. Mr. Farley is the gang tattooist. Mr. Skelp, Ben Jeeves, and Noble are some of Otto’s gang.

Tibor Charismo — known in our time as Terrence Carter — is the most inventive, intelligent man who is a novelist — he wrote of Commander James Bond of Her Majesty’s Navy, composer of such marvels as “Another Brick in Yonder Wall”, and spiritualist to the Queen. It helps that he has a photographic memory. Barnum is his coachman and manservant.

Lacey Boggs is a singing pickpocket. Colonel Jeffers of the Knightsbridge Barracks is on the job with his men. Bob Winkle is one of the inhabitants of the Old Nichol.

The Cover and Title

The cover is an exploding blue and terrifies me just looking at it. Add in a strong hint of the Artful Dodger peering from above while the crouching Riley and the ever-alert Chevron twists with both looking on in apprehension. And with good reason!

The title is all Riley, for its The Reluctant Assassin he is for Garrick.