So imagine that you’re a scholarly sort whose day job is being a historian, but you’ve also just passed your final test to join a professional family for assassins; you’ve done this both to learn but also for the sense of belonging. You’re actually kind of ok with the fact that your society has banned assassination contracts. Except that suddenly people are being murdered, your family will take the fall, unless you solve the murder. You’re probably going to have to kill someone along the way and you are not entirely ok with that. Your name is Amastan and you’re the main character of The Perfect Assassin.
Besides an interesting hero who strikes me as either ace or very demi (this matters when he runs into a potential love interest/person of interest in the murder investigation, and it’s really cool to see underrepresented identities in main parts), the world of this story is pretty fascinating. The main thing is that when you die, your janni (basically spirit) needs to be given a ceremony to give it peace or put it to rest, because otherwise it will run wild, get violent, try to take over other bodies, and generally wreak havoc. This is one of the reasons the assassins need to be careful about how they do their jobs, because they need to be sure they see the janni of whoever they kill taken care of.
Amastan being a scholar really works since, as he himself points out, he notices a lot of little details and feels they might be important, which it turns out, they often are. There’s also the family dynamics, both personally and professionally that are interesting. Amastan’s masters, both scholarly and assassination-ly- who incidentally happen to be married to each other, both have interesting dynamics between themselves and other people, and then you’ve got Amastan and his fellow assassination trainees, although admittedly we see most from Menna who I think I would end up so annoyed by I’d dislike her if she were real; Menna is one of those people who doesn’t mind being manipulative or lying to get her way because she thinks she’s always right, and she mostly is. Besides being Amastan’s fellow newbie assassin, her day-job is as a trainee marab, someone who specializes in making sure the souls of the dead are put to rest properly. This naturally comes in handy when Amastan runs into run-away janni, which seems to happen to him a lot.
The world is interesting, the characters are pretty good, and I find the mystery and how some bits are resolved while leaving other open for the sequel or two which I’m reasonably sure are both out by now. I may have to go find them. This was an interesting adventure story, but it’s also a really good character study without getting too psychological or slow or boring.