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Exit Strategy    by Kelley Armstrong order for
Exit Strategy
by Kelley Armstrong
Order:  USA  Can
Seal, 2007 (2007)
Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Kelley Armstrong shifts gears from paranormal to suspense and takes readers into the fascinating, secretive realm of contract killers in Exit Strategy, the first of an exciting and complicated new series.

Ex-cop and current assassin for hire, Nadia Stafford, and her shadowy mentor Jack, aren't happy when they learn that one of their own is identified as the Helter Skelter Killer. Each hit is ruthless, efficient, random, and at times seems next to impossible to pull off. Yet the killer succeeds and after each murder, authorities find a clue - a page from the book Helter Skelter. The Feds are certain they're dealing with a Charles Manson copycat, or even one of Manson's many offspring. But neither Nadia nor Jack agrees. They're certain it's one of their own anonymous brotherhood and that he or she must be stopped before the Feds focus unwanted attention on the secretive hit man community. Pooling resources and special contacts that Jack has cultivated during his over twenty years in the business, he and Nadia begin their own manhunt. But not before their target turns the tables and comes after them in what will become an increasingly dangerous, cunning, high stakes game of cat and mouse.

Kelley Armstrong has already garnered a strong and loyal following for her Women of the Otherworld series. With the launch of Exit Strategy, she proves herself an imaginative, intelligent and gifted storyteller, no matter the genre. Her characters are original and darkly fascinating, and Armstrong sustains the aura of mistrust that professional assassins must maintain to assure their anonymity. Nifty plot twists keep readers guessing as to the killer's identity and motivations before the thriller rockets to a fantastic action-packed conclusion.

My only complaint is that Jack's dialogue is comprised mainly of short sentence fragments that I often found hard to follow, or downright confusing during his longer information sharing exchanges with other cast members. This sort of character tag is more effective for minor players. As fascinating as Jack is, I eventually found myself getting annoyed with him before he even opened his mouth. Hopefully the next book will reflect more insight into Jack's way with words or lack thereof.

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