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.
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 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.
Yep, instant invisibility spell!