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by Kelley Armstrong
Sphere, July 2007
496 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0751538124

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Nadia Stafford was an excellent police officer who took the law into her hands one day and shot dead a child killer. Forced to resign from the police, her career took a dramatic change in direction when she switched to the other side, becoming a mafia hitwoman.

Now, however, a serial killer has begun to murder people in the style of a hitman. The subsequent police investigation could have serious ramifications for all involved in the profession, so Nadia joins with other professionals to take down the killer. Will she succeed?

Kelley Armstrong is well known for her Women of the Otherworld series of supernatural novels involving werewolves, witches and much more. A straight-up thriller is, therefore, somewhat of a departure for her, but she takes it in her stride. Most crime novels tend to be told from the police perspective as they endeavour to track down offenders. It is a refreshing change, then, to read a novel told from the criminal’s perspective.

Of course, it is even difficult to attempt to paint such a black and white picture, since Nadia is a hitwoman with principles, and not simply a gun for hire. She certainly does not evoke the kind of disdain, distaste or even hatred that we might feel for some criminals. Her background as a police officer and her family history make her all the more interesting as she wrestles with a variety of personal dilemmas.

Armstrong paints an interesting picture of the world of professional hitmen and tells a fast-paced story that appears ideal for turning into a movie. The action is fast and furious and the novel even has a nascent love story that would translate well to the big screen. The majority of the novel is written as a first person narrative, which gives the reader a good insight into Nadia’s character, though Armstrong does sometimes switch into the third person when a new killing takes place, giving the novel a variety of perspectives.

With this latest novel, Armstrong has proved that she is entirely capable of writing a pure crime thriller, without the need for supernatural elements. While the fans of her supernatural series will no doubt long for the next volume, they could be waiting for some time – I can see this series running for a long time!

Reviewed by Luke Croll, July 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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