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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 4 January 2008
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.
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VINE VOICEon 29 August 2007
If you're reading this book for a paranormal character or an urban fantasy stop now. You won't get that here.

If you're reading for a kick-ass female character who knows guns and works in a man's world, then you're reading the right book. This isn't typical Kelley Armstrong fare, this is a mystery. A "chase the hitman serial killer" type of book. Fans of Jeff Lindsay's Dexter might like this story, the female lead, Nadia, is an assassin. She used to be a cop until she killed a guy who got away, she got into assassination because her B&B was having trouble getting started.

The story is about a group of assassins who decide that the serial killer who is taking out innocent people in the style of a hit man is threatening business and needs to be stopped, so they band together to stop him. All with different motives and all nervous about this teaming up thing.

It's interesting, it does have holes that would unravel if you pick at them but I enjoyed the ride.
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on 22 December 2013
Nadia Stafford has a curious relationship with justice. As a former police woman, she's had to uphold the law, but years of seeing criminals evade punishment have left her feeling bitter, and resentful. That is until a particularly difficult case prompts her to take justice into her own hands, a decision that ultimately sees her discharged from law enforcement altogether.

Now she has a new life. She's the proud owner of a country lodge, and nature preserve. But upkeep isn't cheap, so Nadia supplements her income with a little side-business. One in which she's a hitman for hire, working for the mob. It's not the life she imagined for herself, but it's life on her own terms.

There isn't much that could lure Nadia out of the comfortable niche she's carved out for herself. But when she's offered an opportunity to team up with Jack, her enigmatic mentor, and hunt down and kill a serial killer, she can't turn it down.

In pursuit of their prey, Jack and Nadia become masters of disguise, infiltrating casinos, mingling with the Russian mafia, and taking in a little opera. But will they be able to find the killer before he claims his next victim? Will Nadia's personal demons get the better of her? And is Jack someone she can ever really trust? These questions, and their subsequent answers add satisfying depth to an already clever mystery.

In Nadia Stafford, Kelley Armstrong has created a very interesting character. One who is as vulnerable on the inside, as she is cold on the outside. Jack is her perfect counterpoint, and readers will be tempted to wonder if their relationship is doomed to remain professional, or if it could grow into something more. A great, and absorbing read that left me hungry for more.
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on 3 September 2016
I love Kelley Armstrong. Her women of the otherworld and cainsville series' rank among my favourite guilty pleasures, but for some reason I always ignored the Nadia Stafford series as though it didn't exist. My tastes do run to paranormal but I do read thrillers so I'm not sure why I did that.

Once I actually started this book, I finished it within a day. I find Nadia an interesting character. The plot was interesting and I liked that there is very little romance in the book, it gave Nadia time to come into her own as a strong, female protagonist.

I'm not so sure about the male lead in this book. It's clear he will become a love interest but he's a bit wooden (intentionally, as part of his character) and I'm really not sure how that will come about organically.

I bought the other two books in the series immediately after finishing this one. If you liked Kelley Armstrong's other books and don't mind a series without a supernatural element I'm sure you'd like this.

Update: I'd give this book 5 stars on its own and so I have, but the next 2 books are, in my opinion, even better. If you're not sure after finishing this book id definitely recommend trying the next.
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The latest tale by Kelley Armstrong that's not set in her Otherworld setting. Now whilst I do love her work I did feel a little disappointed by her latest offering to the readers in that series feeling that she'd let the principle antagonist out of the box without bringing a lot of her trademark quips. This tale though, lent a complete freedom to the author and restored my faith in her talent, not that the other tale wasn't good but I did feel that I had a different grasp on the situation to what I was presented. Here Im on an even footing and as such just couldn't get enough of this novel, feeling quite sad at the conclusion as I really could have done with a bit more. Exciting characters ooze throughout the novel and as such will keep the mystery moving at a fast clip right up to its conclusion. Just warm up that hot tub as I need to relax after this roller-coaster of a novel.
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VINE VOICEon 23 November 2009
4 and a half stars
I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book because of the mixed reviews. I love Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series though, so I thought I'd give it a try.
Nadia Stafford is a great character, serious and complex, although she does take a bit of time to grow on you. Her fellow hitmen/women are believable and the plot is action driven. I was kept gripped by the story and can't wait to read the next one 'Made to be Broken'.
My only (slight) gripes with the book were: the lack of relationship action, too slow-obviously to be covered over the series, but annoying for the reader! Also the motives of the serial killer were quite confusing for the reader.
I would recommend this book but only if you like serious stuff, the closest Otherworld books are probably Personal Demon or Bitten but beware that there is not as much relationship stuff in this book.
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on 15 October 2013
For anyone who knows me they know I'm hooked when I read it more than once. Action, suspense and vigilante assassins, this book has it all, and all wrapped up in a well written package. My first time was borrowed from the library, this time I just had to buy it. Next on my list is book two so I'm up to speed for the very long awaited third. This book added a whole other genre to my list of faves and all without a hint of romance. Okay maybe there is a teeny, tiny little crumb of a hint of romance on the horizon. Or is that be being overly optimistic? I hope not. Loved it. Highly recommended to all.
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on 21 December 2010
This is the first in a new series by Armstrong. It's nothing like her supernatural series, and I'm a big fan of those. However, I think this new series is better than her other work. Primarily because it's different. They're well written, the characters are well-developed, and the plot keeps you turning the pages. I'm not usually a crime reader,...really. I'm more inclined towards supernatural, sci-fi and fantasy. But Kelley's got me hooked on these. I hope she continues writing the rest of this series as I'd like to know how things develops. Well worth a read in my opinion! :)
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on 11 October 2007
I confess I didnt even stop to read the back of this book before i bought it because i've been most impressed by Kelley Armstrong's previous work.
So, for the first few pages, I was confused that no-one had any paranormal abilities.
What i did notice though, was that I couldnt put it down!
It was fun, interesting, well thought out and different.
And that is Kelley Armstrong all over.
I'll certainly be buying the next one in the series and anything else she cares to write.
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on 17 February 2014
I love the Nadia Stafford series. Nadia Stafford is a female assassin who suffered a traumatic event in her childhood. She has limits to the jobs she takes and only goes after criminals. I love the relationship between her and her mentor Jack and really want them together although Quinn has an interest in Nadia too! This is one series that my mum loves as well.
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