Rath’s Deception: The Janus Group, Book 1, by Piers Platt
The Janus Group is an interplanetary corporation that operates assassins. For law enforcement its existence is no more than rumor and it’s been that way for a few hundred years. They have a unique recruitment program. They recruit orphan teens, male or female, and offer to teach them the trade on a very specific contract. They must accept any job. At the end of 50 assassinations the recruit will split 50% of what Janus Group received for all the jobs. The 50/50 plan. If they get killed on the job, too bad. If they get arrested, too bad. If they tell anyone, they’re dead.
Rath agrees to recruitment. His parents are dead and his brother was killed by a gang. The idea of millions in his bank, maybe hundreds of millions, is too attractive to pass up.
The book follows him through testing for the obscure group and his training. He’s then released on the populated worlds with augmentations. Nanobots enrich his blood and provide drugs when needed, facial and hair implants allow him to change his identity at will, augmented sight and hearing give him even more edge.
Despite technicians and watchers giving him no chance to make it to the money, Rath develops his skills and his resourcefulness. But things get deadly when he’s contracted to kill a missing female assassin from the group, and things get really weird when he reaches his last kill.
Given the subject, the book is generally not as gruesome as you’d expect. Rath has determination to get through recruitment tests and training and Platt has created a character who you’re determined to root for, despite his work. Especially when Rath’s world goes pear-shaped you really want him to make it out alive.
It’s an interesting future with a really nasty secretive corporation as the bad guy. It may be that, as determined as he is, Rath is a little inept at what he does that makes him sympathetic. Despite his first job ending up being far more bloody than intended his kills are mostly focused on fairly bad people, and one contract that he’s forced to take is one he avoided taking and is extremely unsettling for him. In addition, the Group has his life in its hands and can kill him by remote control at any time. It’s a motivator to follow instructions.
This first volume in the series is currently free on Kindle (check before you click) and also available in paperback and as an Audible selection. The two volumes that follow are Rath’s Gambit, and Rath’s Reckoning. There’s also a Janus Group short story available free on Kindle.