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Four and a Half Stars,
This review is from: Exit Strategy: Number 1 in series (Nadia Stafford) (Paperback)
After Nadia Stafford took justice into her own hands, she had to leave the police force. She finally ends up becoming a hitwoman for a small mafia family, whilst at the same time trying to keep her tourist lodge solvent. However, when one of her hits is mistaken for the work of a serial killer, she joins forces with five other assassins to stop the killings before they are all exposed.
Nadia as a heroine is a bit of an enigma. Even though we're in her head, there are still parts of her that remain a mystery. And I liked this. I liked having to think about her motivations. As a hitwoman she's decisive and professional, but there's something inside her that's not functioning quite properly. I'm hoping we gradually find out more about her in upcoming books. I wonder, if she'll ever have to confront all the things she's denied.
Of the other hitmen - Jack, Evelyn, Quinn and Felix - we spend most time with Jack, who is Nadia's mentor, and Evelyn who was Jack's mentor.
...Jack said, "You saw my note, right? It said 'wait'."
"That was a note? I thought it was a haiku."
Jack brings new meaning to the word taciturn. Whilst he uses the minimum number of words to get his point across, and none if he can say what he wants to non-verbally, his presence looms large on the page. He remains a complete professional, focused on the job at hand, and yet there is a chemistry between him and Nadia that is almost tangible - probably moreso because the two of the them don't acknowledge it. Yep, I think I'm gonna be a Jack/Nadia shipper.
Kelley Armstrong writes characters who feel like real people, whether they're an ex-cop hitwoman, or the world's only female werewolf. In Exit Strategy this is emphasized in the 'victim vignettes'. Two or three pages we spend with the victims of the serial killer before they're murdered, as they just go about their daily lives. In just a few pages they become real people, not just red shirts. By the time you get to page 287 and read about Gracie and Cliff you'll be biting your fingernails.
One of the most memorable scenes for me in Bitten (Otherworld Bk1) has nothing to do with werewolves. It's the scene where Elena is pursued by a killer through an airport parking lot. You were there with her, and Exit Strategy has a similar feel. Would I recommend this book to everyone - no. If the reason you read Kelley Armstrong's books is for the urban fantasy element, then this one might not be for you. If on the other hand it's for her dialogue, and the way she makes characters come alive on the page, then give it a try.