King of Swords is an epic assassination thriller framed against a gritty backdrop of brutal drug cartel violence in modern Mexico.
The G-20 Financial Summit is planned for San Jose Del Cabo. The world’s pre-eminent finance ministers will attend, along with the presidents of the U.S. and Mexico.
Captain Romero Cruz of the Mexican Federal Police uncovers an assassination plot against the attendees. In a roller-coaster race against the clock, Cruz must track and stop El Rey, the “King of Swords” – a faceless super-assassin responsible for a string of the world’s most spectacular killings, before he turns the G-20 into a slaughterhouse.
King of Swords is an intelligent, rule-breaking rush that shatters convention to create a richly-drawn story that’s sure to shock and delight even the most jaded intrigue/adventure thriller fans.
“Russell Blake is no stranger to the thriller genre. His previous thrillers have turned the headlines inside-out, with gritty, no-holds-barred, edge-of-your-seat plots. With King of Swords, Russell Blake has clearly taken the best of his previous novels, and combined them into an honest, often brutal, heart-stopping thriller that left me gasping for air and squirming on my couch. I know this sounds overly dramatic, but in reader-speak…this book kept me glued to the Kindle screen.
In King of Swords, the reader is taken on a journey through drug cartel ruled Mexico, where violence often trumps hard cash, as the dominant cultural currency. Blake clearly draws on his own knowledge of the political and cultural climate in Mexico to present a realistic and stark backdrop to a thriller in the fast-paced, intelligent tradition of Frederick Forsyth’s “Day of the Jackal.” Bestselling author Steven Konkoly.
A Q & A for King of Swords with bestselling author Russell Blake
Question: King of Swords is a no-holds-barred suspense thriller set in present-day Mexico. What books influenced you in creating it and how did you come up with the idea?
Russell Blake: Day of the Jackal, The Bourne Identity and Shibumi. I wanted to create something that would give a nod to those works, but kick it up a notch – modernize them; crank them on steroids, leave readers gasping & cringing, and revitalize the genre. I saw the G-20 taking place in Cabo San Lucas, and thought it would be an ideal event in which to frame the quintessential assassination thriller, but with a “24” style storytelling sensibility & an unflinching description of the cartel violence pervading Mexico. Sort of a modern Day of the Jackal set south of the border.
Q: King of Swords blends fact & fiction. What was the inspiration for using the drug cartels as the framework for the story, & where does truth end & invention begin?
RB: Mexico is fighting a civil war; the government against the narco-trafficking cartels. Around 8,000 people die every year as a result of cartel violence, including cops, military, cartel members, family, and innocent bystanders. It’s a brutal industry that throws over $50 billion a year into cartel hands – more than the GDP of many nations. I want readers to see the very real cost in human terms, so the truth/fiction line is deliberately fuzzy. Everything I write is based loosely in fact, & it’s up to the reader to determine where it leaves off.
Q: King of Swords is not for the meek, & is controversial in its graphic depiction of cartel violence and government complicity. Aren’t you afraid you’ll offend with it?
RB: The trafficking business is a bloody, vicious industry perpetrating horrific crimes against humanity. I wanted to capture the casual savagery that typifies it, the willingness of ordinary men to engage in extraordinary brutality. I wanted to highlight the psychological making of the monster. Readers’ sensibilities should be offended. I want them squirming, pulled out of their comfort zone. If they aren’t, if they sleep peacefully after reading it, or can put it down, I didn’t do my job.
Q: King of Swords is much faster-moving than many thrillers. How did you achieve that effect, & are your other books anything like that?
RB: It’s a pacing thing. I wanted to create an experience, not a book – to hurtle the reader along and leave them shaking from the adrenaline rush. There are tricks I developed to create, sustain, & amplify that pace that I played with in some of my earlier work. King of Swords for me is the ultimate expression of that “high-velocity read” approach to fiction..
Q: What made you want to write?
RB: I grew up on a steady diet of Ludlum and Forsyth and Le Carre and Trevanian. That evolved into an interest in telling those sorts of stories. I came to writing relatively late,. I think it was when I discovered David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon that I began a fascination with using language to paint evocative literary landscapes, & that launched my first tentative steps. I’ve never looked back, and I think each book I write is an improvement and further development of my style, such as it is.