As one of the characters in Assassins says, “Tolstoy was right, you can’t beat the Gods. It’s the small things—the warp and woof—that make up the pattern. And how much influence do we have over the small? Now that’s a theme for a modern writer.” And Nicholas Mosley is this writer. Part political thriller and part love story, Assassins explores the “small things” that give shape and meaning to the “big events.”
The novel begins with a teenage girl riding a white horse into the English countryside. She is kidnapped by an idealistic student planning to assassinate a visiting statesman engaged in critical negotiations with the girl’s father, Britain’s Foreign Secretary. In the days that follow, these negotiations, as well as the world’s future, seem to hang upon the characters’ ability to figure out the pattern of the “small things.”
What ultimately happens in this political thriller remains mysterious: “We imagine we know what’s at the back of things, what makes things happen, but we don’t. Often, when we look too closely, there’s just darkness and confusion.” And just this side of the darkness and confusion is Mosley’s world of luminosity as his characters attempt to walk their psychic tightropes with grace and ingenuity.