walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_Exit Strategy_, Kelley Armstrong

I've been reading both the werewolf books (_Bitten_, etc.) and the witch books (_Dime Store Magic_, etc.) by Armstrong. After I finished this one, I finally picked up _No Humans Involved_, so it should be clear that Armstrong has done nothing unforgiveable. This is not a fantasy novel (well, any more than fiction in general is, but never mind that now); Armstrong says she still loves the paranormal but mostly reads crime thrillers herself.

I'm not a big fan of the crime thriller. A lot of the crime thriller is about getting inside the head of Really Unpleasant People. I don't tend to find that very entertaining. I prefer snark, actually, so if someone were to write a crime thriller and the Big Bad Dude made snippy little remarks constantly I might be interested in giving that a try -- let me know if you know of one. I _think_ I require more of a moral dimension in my entertainment, but odds on, I'm wrong.

Our Heroine is Canadian. She was a cop, but in the wake of an Incident, she quit being a cop, lost her fiance and distanced herself from her family. Herein lies the Armstrong formula, and lo, it bears some resemblance to the Foster formula. (Horrific sexual assault in background that she is probably suppressing parts of and definitely has nightmares about; Big Pool of Rage/takes near-suicidal risks; distanced herself from everyone in the wake of it and refuses to see that anyone cares about her now; obsessed with control; looks HOT but dresses down almost all the time but when tarts up, can flirt with the best of them; no close female friends; dead dad; mom not around, etc.) The Incident involved shooting a guy they probably weren't going to be able to lock up for Nearly Long Enough. When she nearly goes broke running a Not-Hunting Lodge, she starts taking contracts to kill Bad Guys (for other bad guys, not the government, as in Crusie/Mayer) to keep the place afloat.

Into this Idyllic Picture (Canada, remember?) comes Jack, probably 20 years older than her, never-use-two-words-when-one-will-do. We eventually discover he was sent by HIS mentor, Evelyn, but is so taken with the need to Protect Our Fragile Little Flower Nadia that he deceives Evelyn into not recruiting Nadia as a new protegee. Everything is ticking along nicely until Yet Another Evelyn Protegee from the pre-Jack past decides it's time to retire and he's gonna go out with a bang. The ensuing plot is an entertaining what-if exercise. What-if a highly skilled hitman decided to start killing people on his own account? You'd have a serial killer with no victim-of-choice and a whole lot of skill and therefore virtually impossible to stop. So go after the contract killers, who you might have let slide on occasion because they don't leave behind a good enough trail to convict, they are hard to find, and they have a lot of resources in terms of running, changing id and funding a legal defense. Also, in killing off witnesses if necessary. The contract killers then get together to police their own. If we don't stop him, nobody will and it's, get this, giving us a bad name.

Humor. Har.

Whoops. Channelling the wrong contract killer there. Ooops.

Anyway. Not a plausible plot line. Whatever. Like that ever stopped me. There's some funny bits in the book because Jack oh-so-clearly wants Nadia and is oh-so-clearly not willing/able to act on that and Nadia is so-fucking-stupid she can't see it. Younger competition (Quinn) is not so shy and further is plugging his version of Good Guy Hit Man: just do for pay what needs to be done anyway.

Will I read more? Sure! Will I complain?

Like you need to ask.
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