A Hitman Walks Into a Bar ...

Book Two of The Castle Chronicles

Fiction - Fantasy - Urban
270 Pages
Reviewed on 02/04/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

A Hitman Walks into a Bar is book 2 in The Castle Chronicles by Michael S. Vassel. Mark Castle had no idea what he was supposed to do with his life. After completing high school, he wanted to do what any other teenager wanted: to go to college and do something with his life. With his “gift” decreased and no money to go to college, he is slowly losing his mind. So when someone suggests he joins the military, he takes the opportunity and he is surprisingly good at his job. He works hard, proves his worth, and that gains him the attention of a superior. A Lieutenant Colonel has an offer for him, a different job than Mark ever anticipated, but he is intrigued. But the job is secret and he will only learn more when he accepts it. Should he take the offer and make his life a little easier? Would that be a smart decision to make?

Boy, oh boy, was this a ride that left me hungering for more. Mark Castle is one of those protagonists that make you fall in love with the story. I think Michael S. Vassel has done an incredible job of creating an environment where you cannot help but be absorbed in the story. I was transported into the plot and experiencing everything with Mark. He is such a complicated yet relatable character; he has conflict inside that makes him question everything that he does and he is hesitant, like any of us. He always tries to do his best, even if his best is not enough. He is afraid to take a risk, but that doesn’t stop him from taking it. Needless to say, A Hitman Walks into a Bar is an incredible story that will make your heart race and make you want more. Incredibly entertaining! I loved every moment of it!

K.C. Finn

A Hitman Walks Into A Bar is a work of urban fantasy fiction with plenty of action and wry charm, which was penned by author Michael S. Vassel. Continuing the Castle Chronicles series, named for its protagonist Mark Castle, we find our dark and mysterious stranger in a bar at first, talking to a fellow patron. As they bond over a drink, Mark unveils the incredible happenings of his life since the last novel, wherein he lost so many of his friends and the powers which he used to call his gift. With the prospect of getting college-funded by joining the army ahead of him, Mark is suddenly seconded to a mysterious branch that does a lot more than basic training has prepared him for.

There is something truly enigmatic about the prose of author Michael S. Vassel which keeps you reading on, and sometimes tricks you into thinking you’re in a realistic genre story. This, of course, makes the fantasy elements of the story all the more exciting when they occur amid this shocking sense of grounded realism that you get from Mark and his countenance. The dialogue is also on point in this tale, giving snappy exposition that moves the story along at a good pace, and enables us to not get bogged down by too much backstory. The character development in Mark since the first novel is deep and well-considered, and it informs his actions and new experiences in A Hitman Walks Into A Bar really well, producing a well rounded and even more accomplished second novel.

Peggy Jo Wipf

With a title like "A Hitman Walks Into a Bar," you will expect this story to be humorous. Author Michael S. Vassel uses the literal meaning; a hitman really did walk into a bar and here is what happened. Mike introduces himself to another patron at his favorite bar while celebrating an early retirement. Mark is just hanging out while waiting for a text about his next job. Mike entices Mark with drinks and food for the story behind his job occupation; a hired hitman. Mark proceeds to tell about his enrollment into the military to earn money for college. His life takes a unique direction when he joins a special team. Mark's story is far-fetched, but the time comes when Mike becomes a believer.

I found A Hitman Walks Into a Bar adventurous with supernatural elements woven within the plot. Michael S. Vassel keeps the storyline about Mark Castle's life centered around his military time and dwells very little on the first book in this series; Defiled. The pace is quick as the dialog alternates between the 1980s when he joins the Army and 2011 when he meets Mike in the bar. The characters are well-developed without revealing the direction in which Mike's story ends. The first chapter drew me in completely and I knew this would be a compelling book. I eagerly returned to Mark's tale every time I had to put this novel down. This is a superior novel, one that will be remembered when you get the feeling that someone is watching you. I highly recommend this novel to those who enjoy military or paranormal genres. This is an excellent book to begin a series of events in Mark Castle's life.