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Day: November 10, 2007

Review: Exit Strategy by Kelley Armstrong

Cool under pres­sure. If they posted employ­ment ads for hit­men, that’d be the num­ber two require­ment, right after detail-ori­ented. A good hit­man must pos­sess the per­fect blend of per­son­al­ity type A and B traits, a con­trol freak who obsesses over every cloth­ing fiber yet projects the demeanor of the most laid-back slacker. After pulling a hit, I can walk past police offi­cers with­out so much as a twitch in my heart rate. I’d love to chalk it up to nerves of steel, but the truth is I just don’t rat­tle that eas­ily.

cover of Exit Strategy by Kelley Armstrong
Nadia Stafford is quite the depar­ture from Kel­ley Armstrong’s other hero­ines, and that isn’t just because she’s a human rather than a were­wolf, witch, vam­pire, ghost or necro­mancer. Don’t let that keep you from read­ing Exit Strat­egy, though. This book, while not a fan­tasy, proves that Arm­strong is much more than “just” a fan­tasy author. In fact, it was rather refresh­ing to read an entirely “mun­dane” crime novel, since so much of the fic­tion mar­ket is focus­ing on roman­tic dark fan­tasy that bor­ders on erot­ica.
I am, admit­tedly, cheap. I sel­dom buy books for myself, pre­fer­ring to check them out from the library. Any­thing I do buy, I’ve prob­a­bly already read, and want to own.

Our local library hadn’t ordered Exit Strat­egy, and I’m not big on crime nov­els, so I really wasn’t plan­ning to read it. It was just there, on an end­cap dis­play with Armstrong’s other nov­els. The cover caught my atten­tion — how could it not? I was killing time, so I opened it and read a ran­dom pas­sage. I found that I couldn’t put it down, and ended up buy­ing it. I was in the mid­dle of sev­eral other books at the time, but com­pared to Exit Strat­egy, they might as well have been cereal boxes. 

No, it isn’t a super­nat­u­ral novel. No, it isn’t a romance. It isn’t even a mys­tery, exactly. But it’s very, very good. The plot­ting is even, and I found the main char­ac­ters believ­able. I’m glad Arm­strong has been con­tracted for a sec­ond novel, but I want it now, please?!

How does a “thirty-some­thing mom” as Arm­strong describes her­self, come up with nov­els like this? I’m not sure, but I’m hop­ing this 40-some­thing mom can some­day man­age even a chap­ter or two as of this cal­iber.

By the way, if any­one ever doubts Kel­ley Armstrong’s fem­i­nin­ity, I will sim­ply point that per­son to the fol­low­ing para­graph:

I slanted my gaze his way, in case he was talk­ing to me. He wasn’t, of course. I was invisible…or as close to it as a non­super­hero could get, hav­ing donned the ulti­mate female dis­guise: no appar­ent makeup and thirty-five pounds of extra padding./blockquote>

Yep, instant invis­i­bil­ity spell!