Leopold's Assassin

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
325 Pages
Reviewed on 10/30/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite

J.R. Rogers' historical fiction novel Leopold's Assassin is set in the time period of 1902-1903. Gennaro Cataldo, an Italian anarchist, is forced to flee from his native Italy because of his political anarchist tracts. In London, his active involvement in anarchist field operations deepens his commitment to political anarchy. He is pulled into a plot to assassinate King Leopold II of Belgium by a Paris anarchist cell. Cataldo's attempt to kill King Leopold in Brussels in November 1902 fails. He escapes back to France and lives a very low-profile life in the French coastal resort of Dinard. A year later, King Leopold visits Dinard. Cataldo is determined to kill the king at all costs. He is intent on proving his total commitment to political anarchy.

I became absorbed in reading J.R. Rogers' Leopold's Assassin from the very outset. At the core of the novel is the complex, dark and edgy character of the anarchist Cataldo. I liked Rogers' rich descriptions of the early 20th century period -- the mindset, people, places, and events. Cataldo's character, his thinking, and actions spring to life in a very powerful and vivid way because of those descriptions. I liked the novel's continuous focus on Cataldo, how his commitment to the anarchist movement evolves, how he reacts to unexpected events. I liked the way Rogers creates contrasts, with quiet and solitary settings when Cataldo is alone but his mind and emotions are in turmoil. The novel's undercurrent of suspense intensifies as Cataldo is caught up in unexpected twists and turns in pursuit of his goal. A well-crafted, compelling and gripping historical novel!