From the author of the acclaimed Women of the Otherworld series comes an exciting new heroine whose most secret identity is both lucrative...and lethal.
Regulars at Nadia's nature lodge don't ask what she does in the off-season. And that's a good thing. If she told them, she'd have to kill them. She's a hit woman for a Mafia family. Tough and self-sufficient, Nadia doesn't owe anyone any explanations. But that doesn't mean she always works alone. One of her contacts has recruited her in the hunt for a ruthlessly efficient serial killer cutting a swath of terror across the country. The assassin is far too skilled to be an amateur--and the precision of the killings is bringing the Feds much too close to the hit man community for comfort.
To put an end to the murders, Nadia will have to turn herself from predator to prey as she employs every trick she knows to find the killer. Before the killer finds her...
From the Paperback edition.
Armstrong deviates from her popular Women of the Otherworld series to introduce a new protagonist, Nadia Stafford, a cop-turned-hit-woman, saddled in her first adventure with a killer vs. killer mission. After being retired from a Canadian police force for shooting a suspect dead, Nadia becomes a hit woman--temporarily, that is, while she waits for her lakeside lodge to take off--targeting smalltime career criminals for clients who are often their direct competitors. Now, she's teaming up with her mentor, Jack, to apprehend a hit man-turned-serial killer known as the Helter Skelter killer. As Nadia pursues the case deeper into the dangerous world of assassins and spies, she finds reason to suspect just about everybody in Armstrong's fine cast of shifty, complex characters. The sexual tension between Jack and Nadia is entirely believable, adding a compelling, organic layer to the suspense. Armstrong's expert plotting never falters, and she's able to keep ramping up the intensity throughout more than 500 pages--no easy feat--making this a top-notch entertainment sure to seduce fans of tough heroines. (July)
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June 24, 2007
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Excerpt from Exit Strategy by Kelley Armstrong
I twisted my fork through the blueberry pie and wished it was apple. I've never been fond of blueberry, not even when the berries were wild and fresh from the forest. These were fresh from a can.
Barry's Diner advertised itself as "home of the best blueberry pie in New York City." That should have been the tip-off, but the sign outside said only Award-Winning Homemade Pie. So I'd come in hoping for a slice of fresh apple and found myself amid a sea of diners eating blueberry. Sure, the restaurant carried apple, but if everyone else was eating blueberry, I couldn't stand out by ordering something different. It didn't help that I had to accompany the pie with decaf coffee--in a place that seemed to brew only one pot and leave it simmering all day.
The regular coffee smelled great, but caffeine was off my menu today, so I settled for inhaling it as I nibbled the crust on my pie. At least that was homemade. I shifted on my seat, the vinyl-covered stool squeaking under me, the noise lost in the sounds of the diner--the clatter of china and silverware, the steady murmur of conversation regularly erupting in laughs or shouts. The door behind me opened with a tinkle of the bell, a gust of October air and a belch of exhaust fumes that stole that rich scent of fresh coffee.
A man in a dirt-encrusted ball cap clanked his metal lunch box onto the counter beside my plate. "He got another one last night. Number four. Police just confirmed it."
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.
"Who'd he get this time?" the server asked as she poured coffee for the newcomer.
"Little old Chinese lady closing up her shop. Choked her with a wire."
"Garroted," said a man sitting farther down the counter.
The other man folded his newspaper, rustling it with a flourish. "Garroted. If you use something to strangle someone, it's called garroting. The Spanish used it as a method of execution."
I glanced at the speaker. A silver-haired man in a suit, manicured fingernails resting on his Wall Street Journal. Not the sort you'd expect to know the origin of the term "garroted." Next thing you know, his neighbors would be on TV, telling the world he'd seemed like such a nice man.
They continued talking. I struggled to ignore them. Had to ignore them. I had a job to do, and couldn't allow myself to be sidetracked.
It wasn't easy. Words and phrases kept tumbling my way. Killer. Victim. Police. Investigation. No leads. I could, with effort, block the words, remind myself that they had nothing to do with me, but the voices weren't so easy to push aside. Sharp with excitement, as if this was something they'd seen in a movie and the victims were nothing more than actors who, when the credits rolled, would stand up, wash off the fake blood and grab a cigarette before heading home to their families.
The Helter Skelter killer. Even the name was catchy, almost jocular. I bet he was proud of it. He'd risen from the ranks of the unnamed and now he was someone--the Helter Skelter killer. I pictured him sitting in a coffee shop like this, eavesdropping on a conversation like this one, his heart tripping every time he heard his new name. My hand tightened on my fork. A burr on the handle dug in. I squeezed until pain forced my thoughts back on track.
It wasn't my concern. There were dozens of killers all across the continent, plotting crimes just as ruthless. Nothing to be done about it, and I was no longer in a position to try.