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Exit Strategy

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Author: Kelley Armstrong

Published: June 26th 2007 by Bantam

Format: Paperback , 480 pages

Isbn: 9780553588194

Language: English


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Popular fantasy author Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld series) makes her first foray into crime fiction, with the debut of a series of non-paranormal novels featuring female assassin Nadia Stafford. Nadia Stafford is one of the world’s few female contract killers. A former cop, drummed out of the force because of a scandal, she is an expert at disguise and coo Popular fantasy author Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld series) makes her first foray into crime fiction, with the debut of a series of non-paranormal novels featuring female assassin Nadia Stafford. Nadia Stafford is one of the world’s few female contract killers. A former cop, drummed out of the force because of a scandal, she is an expert at disguise and cool under pressure. But when fellow hitman Jack arrives on the scene, Nadia’s very private existence is seriously challenged. A series of victims are being murdered seemingly at random all over the country — different areas, different walks of life, different MOs. There is nothing to tie them together except a random page torn out of a single book: Helter Skelter. But does the Helter Skelter killer — as the hysterical media now dub him — have a real connection to Charles Manson? Or is there something even more sinister at work? Is this, in fact — as Jack believes — the carefully planned exit strategy of a fellow professional killer, determined to leave the life, but equally determined to clear up an old mistake? And, if so, which is the real victim? Now, the highly suspicious and secretive hitman community will have to break their cover — at least, to each other — and help take down this killer before the cops and the Feds discover his true connection to their own secret, exclusive society….

30 review for Exit Strategy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alex is The Romance Fox

    I am a huge fan of Kelley Armstrong and it was a real surprise finding her new series that is nothing like her others, namely paranormal romance. Introducing a new kick-ass protagonist, Nadia Stafford, ex cop turned hit woman/assassin of bad guys, we are taken into a world of criminals, assassins, spies filled with suspense and mystery. Nadia Stafford, dishonorably retired from a Canadian police force for shooting a suspect dead, now owner of a lakeside lodge in the Canadian wilderness and part-ti I am a huge fan of Kelley Armstrong and it was a real surprise finding her new series that is nothing like her others, namely paranormal romance. Introducing a new kick-ass protagonist, Nadia Stafford, ex cop turned hit woman/assassin of bad guys, we are taken into a world of criminals, assassins, spies filled with suspense and mystery. Nadia Stafford, dishonorably retired from a Canadian police force for shooting a suspect dead, now owner of a lakeside lodge in the Canadian wilderness and part-time assassin for hire. I really engaged with her character. She’s strong, independent but has a soft side that makes her really likeable. Teaming up with her mentor, Jack, they are thrown into a dangerous chase to finding a hit-man turner serial killer. Compelling and suspenseful story-line with complex and mysterious characters and the dark world of crime, corruption, betrayal and even a bit or romance….. An interesting start to the series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more

    3/28/18 - ON SALE for $1.99: I didn't love this first book in the series, but I did love the second and third, so . . . do with that what you will. https://amzn.to/2Iaa2ci Kelley Armstrong is turning into a major point of confusion for me. Most of the time when I REALLY a series by author--I'm talking Top 5 UF Series here--other books by the same author are a pretty safe bet. I might not absolutely love every single thing the write, but for the most part, I like them enough to have them on my a 3/28/18 - ON SALE for $1.99: I didn't love this first book in the series, but I did love the second and third, so . . . do with that what you will. https://amzn.to/2Iaa2ci Kelley Armstrong is turning into a major point of confusion for me. Most of the time when I REALLY a series by author--I'm talking Top 5 UF Series here--other books by the same author are a pretty safe bet. I might not absolutely love every single thing the write, but for the most part, I like them enough to have them on my auto-buy list . . . Not so much here. So far I've 86ed her YA books indefinitely, not liked the first book in her latest adult UF series (Omens), and now not much liked whatever this is . . . there's not enough romance for it to be romantic suspense, but it's not scary enough to be a thriller. It's doesn't feel like a straight-up mystery either. I don't know, but whatever it is, it's mediocre at best. Why is it mediocre? B/c . . . it's . . . so . . . S-L-O-W . . . (did you see what I did there?). I think it was around 30% before it got interesting enough for me to keep reading it out of more than a determination to do it justice, and even then . . . still MEH. I never felt much of a connection to any of the characters, and 25 year age gap between the MCs (who will maybe . . . one day . . . get together . . . but NOT any time soon), is off-putting. She's mid-20s, he's 50(ish), and that's just not my thing. Maybe it'll grow on me if I keep reading these books, OR maybe I'll train myself to tune it out (like Luke Stark's 'stache in Rock Chicks). I don't know, we'll see. I can tell you that I have absolutely no desire to immediately read the next book. This was the most boring assassin book I've ever read. I'm actually kind of flabbergasted that a book about an assassin could be this dull--I mean really? How does that even happen?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Meep

    Nadia is quite refreshing in that she's a strong female character capable of keeping up with the boys who doesn't rely on cheap wisecracks. As her urban-fantasy series shows Armstrong is good at writing strong women and layering them without the usual cliches. The characters feel real, even without learning every detail you see how different things drive them. The morality is interesting. They're paid assasins; our 'good-guys' aren't lily white, I found it an interesting mix. Nadia who has bounda Nadia is quite refreshing in that she's a strong female character capable of keeping up with the boys who doesn't rely on cheap wisecracks. As her urban-fantasy series shows Armstrong is good at writing strong women and layering them without the usual cliches. The characters feel real, even without learning every detail you see how different things drive them. The morality is interesting. They're paid assasins; our 'good-guys' aren't lily white, I found it an interesting mix. Nadia who has boundaries but doesn't deny her core, Evelyn and her manipulations, tactiturn Jack, then 'vigilanty' Quinn with his high morals - not always looking for pay and not seeing the danger of that. There's several povs here, brief glimpses of victims that are enough to make them more than mere numbers. At least one of those really caught me! Plotwise I think I was more taken with the characters, watching them adapt and what was revealed about them - never felt much suspense (except for that pov!) they discover the killers identity fairly early and from there it's just watching how it plays out. I could have done with less rhetorical questions, a big part of that is as Jack's style of talking though. No pronouns. Short sentences. Sometimes you want to shake the words free - but check he's unarmed first! While his emotions are made clear to the reader it's no surprise that Nadia can't see it. Quinn is so much more open, a puppy/overgrown-child. Hopefully a case of everthing in it's time! Reading this for romance you may be disappointed, there's plenty of character play but most is subtle. This is a re-read (having discovered the third/final book has been released) and I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Didi

    3.5 TO 4 STARS Kelley Armstrong is a fantastic writer. I've loved everything I've read by her and even though this is different from her usual, I still really liked it. Nadia Strafford is a hitwoman, used to be a cop until a serious decision resulted in career-ending consequences. She also owns a lodge in Northern Ontario where she dreams of one day retiring to, but a serial killer is hunting innocent individuals and it all seems for fun. Along with her mentor Jack, and his associate, Evelyn, the 3.5 TO 4 STARS Kelley Armstrong is a fantastic writer. I've loved everything I've read by her and even though this is different from her usual, I still really liked it. Nadia Strafford is a hitwoman, used to be a cop until a serious decision resulted in career-ending consequences. She also owns a lodge in Northern Ontario where she dreams of one day retiring to, but a serial killer is hunting innocent individuals and it all seems for fun. Along with her mentor Jack, and his associate, Evelyn, the three team up and hunt down the so-called Helter Skelter killer. As with KA's Women of The Underworld series, her writing is sharp, the plot tight and the premise very intriguing. This is by no means an action-packed RS, it's barely even romantic, but the writing makes up for the lack of that. The detail and precision in making the reader believe that these characters are truly Hitmen/women is astounding. There is no detail left unexplained, no sub-plot left unturned, just excellent plot and storytelling. This is a slower read, things build very carefully and by the time I'd reached 60%, I couldn't put this down. Nadia is a wonderful character, she was brave and despite her career of choice, I admired her. She also has a dark past she's still sifting through but we are told what happened and see how's it's affecting her. Jack was very mysterious but his expertise was incredible. Together, these two were like lock and key, they just got each other. So where's the romance? Not here. Not really. Nadia wonders about him but never gets any hint of interest but I think it's there for her. Jack was very quiet, gruff and spoke in almost snap sentences. But his feelings for Nadia? I thought it was pretty obvious as a third party. This wrapped up very nicely but this is book 1 in the series and I'm excited to see where everything goes, especially with Nadia and Jack.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susana

    2.5 Stars This story felt very unlike KA: the characters come out as undeveloped sketches ( instead of mysterious), and the pace was SLOW as f***. -_- This has to be the most tedious thriller I have ever read... next to The Other Daughter. I lost count to the number of times in which I simply lost track of what I had read, simply because everything was so Boring. And slow. And uneventful. Also I hate when characters are supposed to come out as badasses, and when push comes to shove they fail miserabl 2.5 Stars This story felt very unlike KA: the characters come out as undeveloped sketches ( instead of mysterious), and the pace was SLOW as f***. -_- This has to be the most tedious thriller I have ever read... next to The Other Daughter. I lost count to the number of times in which I simply lost track of what I had read, simply because everything was so Boring. And slow. And uneventful. Also I hate when characters are supposed to come out as badasses, and when push comes to shove they fail miserably. What is it with books with female assassins these days? Sure, Nadia isn't a Calaena (Nadia actually, you know, kills her targets), but even so things were a little complicated. ( I already mentioned how this story took way longer that it should have, right?) It wasn't as if this needed more pages. What it needed was a severe trimming. Then there's the guys... One has the personality of a tree stump ( I am guessing Nadia will end up with him?) and the other is the human version of a ... Labrador retriever. With green eyes. -_- Will I be reading the next volume? Ahhh... I don't know. A small part of me keeps insisting that this is KA's work we're talking, and that maybe in the second one things will pick up. If I do, I'll probably wait a few weeks just so I can forget how bored I was with most of the story.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anne (Booklady) Molinarolo

    What a fun read and unexpected female protagonist! 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.Yes, a disgraced cop turned lodge owner turned gun for hire. But Nadia is very picky about her targets - they all must be Mafia thugs. She is very cautious when she is on the job as we see in the first couple of chapters. And then, something that can place her and eve What a fun read and unexpected female protagonist! 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.Yes, a disgraced cop turned lodge owner turned gun for hire. But Nadia is very picky about her targets - they all must be Mafia thugs. She is very cautious when she is on the job as we see in the first couple of chapters. And then, something that can place her and everything she's worked hard for happens. A serial killer is on the loose in the United States, and shows skills that only a professional could have. And law enforcement indeed think a hit man has turned into the infamous and elusive Helter Skelter Killer. Her mentor -"Jack" - has a few other hit men ready to go after him saying that it's bad for business if the HSK is one of them, because every local and federal law enforcement agency will round up known professionals and could compromise the identities of those in the business. Meaning that he and Nadia could be in danger. She agrees and decides to help "Jack" and his merry men (that includes a woman that looks like a sweet ol' granny.) Nadia becomes suspicious of the older woman, regardless of the fact that Jack was her student. Felix and Quinn are wonderful characters - one is an employed cop who takes a romantic interest in Nadia. The band of assassins seem to be always one step behind HSK. Could there be a traitor in their little band of killers? And if there is, who will survive. I really loved the book, though it could've been shorten by about 50 pages from its 480. The writing is spot on. The action is quick. The dialogue is smart. The writing is good. The suspense level builds and builds - I couldn't wait to pick it back up. I must read the other two books in the Nadia Stafford Trilogy!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sofija

    You know the situation, when you expect so much from the book and it just left you disappointed? With “Exit strategy” situation was reversed. I picked it up not expecting anything higher than middle-class book, but I find myself really enjoying it. The summary of it is that an ex-cop now works as a hitwoman and unites with other hitmen for killing another hitman who became a serial killer. I think it is a cool story! It was full with action, strategy planning, police procedures and insight in hitm You know the situation, when you expect so much from the book and it just left you disappointed? With “Exit strategy” situation was reversed. I picked it up not expecting anything higher than middle-class book, but I find myself really enjoying it. The summary of it is that an ex-cop now works as a hitwoman and unites with other hitmen for killing another hitman who became a serial killer. I think it is a cool story! It was full with action, strategy planning, police procedures and insight in hitman profession. I even picked up a couple of useful things, if I ever going to commit a perfect murder:)))) In the beginning story went a little slow, but then it picked up speed and I find myself unable to put it down. I liked Nadia, her professionalism, her intelligence, her ability to still differentiate good from bad in her job. And I loved Jack. I find his manner of talking in monosymbolic sentences entertaining and cute. And his relationship with Nadia was interesting. I couldn’t figure out the nature of it though. Sometimes he treated her strictly like colleague, sometimes like teacher, sometimes like father. Sometimes I could totally feel a chemistry and romantic interest there. But I have a problem with his age. In my young 21 it is almost impossible to see a man, who crossed half a century mark, as a possible love interest. I get that Nadia is 32, but it is still a big age difference. And no matter how good a man look in his 50, all I can see is a grandpa. But if you put away the age than I am totally for “team Jack”! I am waiting forward to reading the next book and see how thing will develop from there.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    So happy that I picked up this series by one of my favourite writers! I am thoroughly immersed and captivated by the characters and love the action packed pace of this book. Can’t go wrong with this one!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Nadia Stafford owns a lodge in the Canadian Wilderness, catering to hunters and outdoorsmen. When she's not working at the lodge, Nadia is a professional hitman, working for the mob to take out members that stray. Nadia is approached by her mentor Jack. There is a ruthless serial killer known as the Helter Skelter Killer (HSK). He has left bodies littering the countryside. Jack believes HSK may be a retired hitman. He wants to put together a group to take out HSK before he brings the heat of the Nadia Stafford owns a lodge in the Canadian Wilderness, catering to hunters and outdoorsmen. When she's not working at the lodge, Nadia is a professional hitman, working for the mob to take out members that stray. Nadia is approached by her mentor Jack. There is a ruthless serial killer known as the Helter Skelter Killer (HSK). He has left bodies littering the countryside. Jack believes HSK may be a retired hitman. He wants to put together a group to take out HSK before he brings the heat of the law enforcement community on all of them. Nadia agrees to work with an unusual group of pros to bring down HSK. If you've read Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series, this is nothing like it. This book is about a woman with a dark past who makes ends meet by working is a professional hitman. Now she is joining with others of her profession to seek out and kill a serial killer. It won't be easy since this guy was a former hitman. I found this book to be very intriguing. Nadia must be always aware of her environment, know the quickest way out of a building, know how to blend into a crowd without being seen. I loved the suspense aspect of this book; but I loved the relationships even more. These characters keep to themselves and are not big talkers. They rarely let anybody into their own space. I thought the chemistry between Nadia and Jack was palpable. I kept waiting for something between them, but knew he would not make a move while they were on the job. I look forward to the next book in this series. My rating: 4 Stars.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Proffitt

    I quit at about the 90% mark. The emotional constipation of Jack and Nadia was hard to take (however charming it started) but I started to lose charity when so many "chance" events started breaking the same way—to prolong the story. I try to be generous about chance in fiction novels. Life is a gamble, after all, so it makes sense if random plays a role in a novel. After a bit, though, I began to suspect that random wasn't really in play. I can generally give the bad guy a good break and the goo I quit at about the 90% mark. The emotional constipation of Jack and Nadia was hard to take (however charming it started) but I started to lose charity when so many "chance" events started breaking the same way—to prolong the story. I try to be generous about chance in fiction novels. Life is a gamble, after all, so it makes sense if random plays a role in a novel. After a bit, though, I began to suspect that random wasn't really in play. I can generally give the bad guy a good break and the good guys a bad break. But after that, I expect some balance. By the time (view spoiler)[Nadia couldn't aim and squeeze a trigger in the time it takes a civilians to ruin her shot (by running the entire length of an alley, no less) (hide spoiler)] I just couldn't take it any more. At that point, they had the guy. They knew who it was, they had him at the right place and time. All that was left was for them to take the stupid shot. And I noticed nearly two hours remaining runtime. And I just lost all interest in watching the rest play out. Thriller isn't my thing anyway. Thriller with a dash of "can't catch a break" is just not fun.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan

    This is such a good thriller from one of my favourite urban fantasy writers. Thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. Looking forward to reading book 2, don't know why I never got round to continuing the series first time I read this!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jai

    I liked this book because of the smart heroine. Nadia Stafford has to be, she's a hitman. People just don't last long in that business without brains. Either you get caught or you get killed. Nadia, or "Dee" (as she is called by other assassins who don't know her real name), was once a cop, born into a family of cops. After a traumatic childhood event, all it took for Nadia to take things into her own hands was one criminal scumbag who had hurt a young girl. Clearly she has issues brimming under I liked this book because of the smart heroine. Nadia Stafford has to be, she's a hitman. People just don't last long in that business without brains. Either you get caught or you get killed. Nadia, or "Dee" (as she is called by other assassins who don't know her real name), was once a cop, born into a family of cops. After a traumatic childhood event, all it took for Nadia to take things into her own hands was one criminal scumbag who had hurt a young girl. Clearly she has issues brimming under the surface, but it may be her passion that makes her a good hitman. In Exit Strategy, she agrees to join a team of other hitmen who are going after one of their own. A professional killer has turned into a serial killer, and it has caused a shakedown from the law against the whole profession. This is NOT a paranormal, even though Kelley Armstrong is well known for her paranormal series, the Women of the Otherworld. Being a hitman was REALLY interesting to read about, especially things like trying to retire or having a family. No one trusts anyone, everyone has a hidden real identity, everyone's motives are suspect.. most people never retire: they die. And almost everyone in this book is the strong silent type. It's interesting how subtle the communication is between assassins. Facial expressions and head movements mean more than words. Actions speak loudest. I found the writing which moves between Nadia and the killer and his victims, very powerful. There is also there is a very subtle hint of a romance (I am thinking love triangle) in this book. It is barely even there, it's all in the silent communication. That's my take. I really want to know what happens in book 2. An interesting thriller. More at my book blog - http://janicu.livejournal.com/29024.html

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Audiobook Re-Read August 2017 Re-read June 2016 This was such a lovely re-read. I guess I am in a bit of a book slump, but this hit the spot. Original Review Ahhh, finally plunging into my last Kelley Armstrong series (well, not counting unpublished books!). This is set in the real world and just that was enough to make it feel like a very different kind of book for Armstrong. (Or maybe that was just me being overly conscious of that.) (Hey, my boss just called me a winner. Writing reviews, working, Audiobook Re-Read August 2017 Re-read June 2016 This was such a lovely re-read. I guess I am in a bit of a book slump, but this hit the spot. Original Review Ahhh, finally plunging into my last Kelley Armstrong series (well, not counting unpublished books!). This is set in the real world and just that was enough to make it feel like a very different kind of book for Armstrong. (Or maybe that was just me being overly conscious of that.) (Hey, my boss just called me a winner. Writing reviews, working, I CAN DO IT ALL.) This also has me thinking a lot about first books in a series and, specifically, Armstrong's in progress Cainville series, where Jess, Beth and I all didn't REALLY fall for the series until the second book. I think I liked this a little less than the first Cainsville book (Omens), but it gave me a similar feeling of, okay, these are great characters and you're going to REALLY love them in the next book. But I'm not all the way there yet. (This was a more complete story than Omens, though.) (Also, unlike Cainsville, I can read the rest of the series RIGHT NOW. YESSSS.)

  14. 5 out of 5

    K.

    [Reread 09/05/16: Still excellent.] This is a story of a hitwoman who is hired by a hitman to join a group of hitmen to track down and eliminate a serial killer who is also a hitman-gone-mad. Got it? Great. Knowing what I do of Armstrong's other series (romance-heavy), I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. Nadia is my favorite type of heroine - she's smart and tough and has her own moral code based on personal experience, rather than a naive understanding of the world. She's a former [Reread 09/05/16: Still excellent.] This is a story of a hitwoman who is hired by a hitman to join a group of hitmen to track down and eliminate a serial killer who is also a hitman-gone-mad. Got it? Great. Knowing what I do of Armstrong's other series (romance-heavy), I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. Nadia is my favorite type of heroine - she's smart and tough and has her own moral code based on personal experience, rather than a naive understanding of the world. She's a former cop who comes from a family of cops with a tragic backstory that only underscores her interest in the pursuit of justice. During one of her cases, it becomes clear to Nadia that the suspect will literally get away with murder. She makes a career-ending decision to play God. Her colleagues and superiors believe her actions to be a result of PTSD and gently drum her out of the service. She attempts to another lifestyle (lodge owner! guide for extreme sports!), but it leaves her in dire financial straits. Would she do it again? Probably. Coincidentally, a mobster's son comes to stay at her lodge with friends and her connection to the seedy underground is born. She has specifics on what kind of hits she will take, but does not have any qualms about the killing once it's been decided. I like that about a girl.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I LOVE this series and can't wait for book 3. The dynamic between Nadia and Jack is so amazing! I look forward to the day one of them finally has the courage to tell the other how they feel!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stella

    I'm a HUGE fan of Armstrong's Otherworld series, and of Kelley Armstrong herself, as I find she is an amazing, top notch, extraordinary author. Her descriptive, detailed and very evocative writing style is a joy to read, the readers feel as if they were in the middle of the story, seeing everything unfold in front of their eyes as in a movie. So the question wasn't whether I would read her not paranormal novels but when I would get around to read them. I gobbled up the first in the series (Exit I'm a HUGE fan of Armstrong's Otherworld series, and of Kelley Armstrong herself, as I find she is an amazing, top notch, extraordinary author. Her descriptive, detailed and very evocative writing style is a joy to read, the readers feel as if they were in the middle of the story, seeing everything unfold in front of their eyes as in a movie. So the question wasn't whether I would read her not paranormal novels but when I would get around to read them. I gobbled up the first in the series (Exit Strategy) in a mere 3 weekdays and started the second right away, my only complaint is that there are no more books in the series at this moment.. :-( Why is this book such a great read? Let me tell you: If I had to sum up Kelley Armstrong's forte in a few words I'd say this novel is a great read: 1. because Armstrong picks exciting plots 2. because of her characterization 3. because of her in-depth knowledge of the subject she's writing about 4. because of her humourous writing. And in a bit more detail: 1. The plot is interesting, with constant twists and turns, leaving you thinking and still putting the puzzle together after the end. 2. Characterization: Kelley Armstrong's characters are 3D flesh and blood people who leap off the page. They are unique, they are complex, they have depth. I love how Armstrong gives each one of them a solid background history, the personal details of which the reader uncovers all along the story. In the Nadia Stafford series Armstrong introduces a new set of characters, equally believable and real as the Otherworld characters. The protagonist is Nadia, the ex-cop turned hitwoman (but of course she hasn't compromised her moral integrity, she only liquidates mob thugs), whose struggles and emotional hardships are not simply mentioned in the novel but are detailed repeatedly, outlining how much it is not easy for Nadia to live in this new (and underworld) world. Jack is the mysterious hitman about whom we discover very little: he is older than Nadia, around 50, has been in the business for quite some time. He is Nadia's mentor/friend and there is definite Scully/Mulder tension here. If I say Jack is a man of few words, I'm understating it! He speaks in monosyllabic words, in one word sentences, dropping everything unnecessary (pronouns for example) out. I usually don't like when an author writes in segments or uses too much sentence fractions as I feel it breaks up the pace of the story and after a while it irritates me that this kind of writing is constantly forcing me out of the story to the mere role of reader and not participant. However, this was not the case with Jack's segmented speech. It was necessary to his character portrayal, so to give us a better understanding of how he is. And he sure is one of a kind. He is very secretive and doesn't pry, prefers blending in the background and giving Nadia silent comfort by his presence. His protectiveness and thoughfulness towards Nadia suggests he is interested in her more than a simple mentor is, but he represses any such feelings and thoughts. Quinn is the 3 participant to this triangle. An active federal agent who's moonlighting as a vigilante, taking care of justice himself. He is described as the perfect romantic candidate for Nadia and a typical all-American boy: tall, broad shouldered, handsome, kind, funny and easygoing. He is a warm, friendly presence in the book, a character you have to like. 3. Armstrong always does her homework and it shows in her novels. I was amazed at her knowledge of guns, explosives and other hitman/police related tidbits and infos. 4. Humour is like Armstrong's special trademark. Her writing is peppered with sarcastic comments and the dry wit of her characters make the reader chuckle even in the midst of a nail-biting-exciting passage. Favourite quotes: "You fucked up. Having a mark make you before you even get within firing distance? Unbelievable." Evely stepped forward, eyes trained on his. "But you didn't have all the facts, did you? You didn't know she was a pro." "Pro?" Bert squinted at me. "She's a hitwoman?" "No," Evelyn said. "You just got your ass kicked by the Avon lady." What did I tell you, isn't Armstrong hilarious? "Tomorrow?" he said. "You want to jog? I'll follow." "You run?" "Only if someone's chasing. I'll drive." Don't be mistaken after such a lengthy presentation of the characters: this novel is not centered around any love triangle, you have to search very hard to find the romantic angle. Instead it is a fast paced, gripping suspense novel. Plot: 9/10 Characters: 10/10 Ending: 8/10 Writing: 9/10 Cover: 10/10

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Exit Strategy is an intriguing beginning to unique series. Nadia, a hitwoman, gets a visit from her mentor, Jack. A hitman has become a serial killer and it has the possibility of shining too much light on their profession. Nadia and Jack team up with a crew of other hitmen to find the rogue and put a stop to his killing spree. I loved getting to know Nadia. Her life before becoming an assassin and her motivation for doing what she does is strangely endearing. What I enjoyed most about the story Exit Strategy is an intriguing beginning to unique series. Nadia, a hitwoman, gets a visit from her mentor, Jack. A hitman has become a serial killer and it has the possibility of shining too much light on their profession. Nadia and Jack team up with a crew of other hitmen to find the rogue and put a stop to his killing spree. I loved getting to know Nadia. Her life before becoming an assassin and her motivation for doing what she does is strangely endearing. What I enjoyed most about the story was seeing all of the assassins struggle with keeping their secret identities from each other while trying to work together as a team. Killing for money is generally not a team effort and I found the way the group interacted with each other extremely fascinating. A lot of mystery, some very fun scenes and a bit of romance make this book a very enjoyable read. Kelley Armstrong takes a detour from her usual supernatural fare with Exit Strategy and proves that the mundane world can be just as enticing as the magical.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Crane

    Kelley Armstrong wrote one of my favorite books, Bitten. She’s fantastic writer and this is a sleeper series that definitely deserves more attention. I love the world of Nadia Stafford, and the interesting and meaty moral situations presented here. While Exit Strategy is a definite deviation for her – no magic, very vague-to-no romance, it has all the Armstrong hallmarks--tight plotting, great details and well-drawn characters, right down to their speech patterns. And it was deliciously psycholog Kelley Armstrong wrote one of my favorite books, Bitten. She’s fantastic writer and this is a sleeper series that definitely deserves more attention. I love the world of Nadia Stafford, and the interesting and meaty moral situations presented here. While Exit Strategy is a definite deviation for her – no magic, very vague-to-no romance, it has all the Armstrong hallmarks--tight plotting, great details and well-drawn characters, right down to their speech patterns. And it was deliciously psychological! I loved this heroine, too. Nadia has a code of honor about the (very few) jobs she takes, and here, she's trying to find a killer. I thought this hitwoman bit made Nadia really interesting--and the world was hugely compelling, full of all kinds of cool hitwoman details.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hallie

    Loved the idea of professional hit woman (women and one man, actually) going after a rogue killer, and this would have been rated higher if Jack's speech pattern hadn't been quite so irritating. Like nails on chalkboard irritating - not saying much doesn't mean you have to omit every single pronoun from every single (short) sentence. I also didn't quite buy Nadia's justifications for the jobs she took, as there were glaring logical errors in her defence of working for a Mob family. But mostly th Loved the idea of professional hit woman (women and one man, actually) going after a rogue killer, and this would have been rated higher if Jack's speech pattern hadn't been quite so irritating. Like nails on chalkboard irritating - not saying much doesn't mean you have to omit every single pronoun from every single (short) sentence. I also didn't quite buy Nadia's justifications for the jobs she took, as there were glaring logical errors in her defence of working for a Mob family. But mostly these irritants were easy enough to overlook and I could just watch the clever people try to outsmart each other quite happily.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Raimey Gallant

    Loved the cross-border intrigue aspect of this story, as well as the brief glimpses into the POVs of the antagonist as well as his victims. Also, the characterization is great, especially for Jack.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    Not sure how to rate this book; the main characters are not heroic at all. IMHO, this was a cliffhanger end, especially since I did not realize it was the first in a series. Now I have to decide whether I want to know how things end enough to trudge through more books with these characters....

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    This is what could be the first in a series... and I loved it! Nadia is a character all in herself. Her thoughts, her feelings, everything she sees - as the reader, you see. The way Armstrong incorporated Nadia's past into the novel was excellent. Not all right at the beginning, and you keep flipping pages, not only to see what happens next, but to find out more about Nadia and understand why she is the way she is. Jack - there's a man I'd like to get to know. And I have a feeling that Nadia will This is what could be the first in a series... and I loved it! Nadia is a character all in herself. Her thoughts, her feelings, everything she sees - as the reader, you see. The way Armstrong incorporated Nadia's past into the novel was excellent. Not all right at the beginning, and you keep flipping pages, not only to see what happens next, but to find out more about Nadia and understand why she is the way she is. Jack - there's a man I'd like to get to know. And I have a feeling that Nadia will somehow figure out how to ask him - and he'll answer. Not much of a talker, face and eyes never tell the tale of how he's feeling or what he's thinking. Complex, and I hope we learn a lot more about it as the series goes on. I don't want to go greatly into detail - don't want to ruin it for those who plan to read this novel. There are other characters in the book as well - a few to leave you confused - and I think I may know why, but at this time, all I can do is speculate. Just enough kissing to keep you looking for more. Enough action and details of everything that keep the book glued to your fingers. Had a super-huge time trying to put this book down. A definite recommendation!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mary JL

    This was very fast paced and excing. Starts out with two murders in the first 20 parges and keeps going. Usually I prefer heroes to anti-heroes, and Nadia is a hitwoman. Nevertheless, the story pulled me in and I fou8nd it compelling reading. The flashbacks we get of Nadia's traumatic past make her a more sympathetic character, despite her occupation. Therer is also a great deal of suspernse--when your partners are fellow hitmen, it is hard to know who to trust. Add public panic, the media frenzy This was very fast paced and excing. Starts out with two murders in the first 20 parges and keeps going. Usually I prefer heroes to anti-heroes, and Nadia is a hitwoman. Nevertheless, the story pulled me in and I fou8nd it compelling reading. The flashbacks we get of Nadia's traumatic past make her a more sympathetic character, despite her occupation. Therer is also a great deal of suspernse--when your partners are fellow hitmen, it is hard to know who to trust. Add public panic, the media frenzy and law enforcement coming closer and the quick pace never lets go. This is the first book Kelley Armstrong wrote that is not a paranormal book; it is a straight mystery. I found it a non-stop page turner, very well written, and recommend it highly to mystery fans and action fans.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Brakebill

    Jack talk like caveman. Pronouns bad. Complete sentences bad. Drove me crazy. Bit much, even for character development. We get it, Kelley; the strong silent type. Man of few words. You don't have to club us in the head with it, however. Mildly enjoyable read, if you can stand a main character speaking the whole time like he's an idiot. Nadia is a bit of a ding bat airhead herself. I don't know how she hasn't gotten herself killed in "the business" considering how careless she is. I love reading bo Jack talk like caveman. Pronouns bad. Complete sentences bad. Drove me crazy. Bit much, even for character development. We get it, Kelley; the strong silent type. Man of few words. You don't have to club us in the head with it, however. Mildly enjoyable read, if you can stand a main character speaking the whole time like he's an idiot. Nadia is a bit of a ding bat airhead herself. I don't know how she hasn't gotten herself killed in "the business" considering how careless she is. I love reading books like this because it gives me hope that if crap like this can get published, then maybe some day I have a chance.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karissa

    This is the first book in the only Armstrong series I haven’t read, the Nadia Stafford series. There are three books in this series. I really enjoyed this book a lot. It provided an excellent mystery and intriguing characters. Previous to reading this series I have read all of Armstrong’s other series; my least favorite of her series were the Women of the Otherworld series (only read the first three books) and her Blackwell Pages series (only read the first book). I have pretty much adored every This is the first book in the only Armstrong series I haven’t read, the Nadia Stafford series. There are three books in this series. I really enjoyed this book a lot. It provided an excellent mystery and intriguing characters. Previous to reading this series I have read all of Armstrong’s other series; my least favorite of her series were the Women of the Otherworld series (only read the first three books) and her Blackwell Pages series (only read the first book). I have pretty much adored everything else. Nadia is an ex-cop turned hitwoman who also owns a nature lodge in Canada. She basically takes on the hit jobs to pay for upkeep on her lodge when things are tight. However, when a serial killer starts rampaging around the country her mentor, Jack, calls to see if she would be willing to join a team of assassins set on finding out who the killer is and taking him out. While there are some well done action scenes in this novel the focus is more on the strategy of planning a hit and the interesting people that are drawn to this sort of profession. Nadia and Jack are both fairly mysterious characters and it was fun to learn about them and what makes them tick. Nadia is an amazing protagonist; she’s gone through a lot in her life but has worked through a lot of the issues she’s faced pretty well. She incredibly smart, savvy, and makes good logical decisions throughout the book...while still having some weak spots to work through. I really liked her a lot. Jack is a mystery throughout, but we start to slowly learn about him as the book progresses. There really isn’t a lot of romance in here; this book is more about the mystery of the serial killer and about assassins trying to build trusting relationships with each other. Those who have read Armstrong’s other series may notice some parallels between these characters and other characters in her series. I realize this series came before the others. However, some aspects of Jack reminded me a lot of Gabriel from the Cainsville series. I also noticed that Nadia shared a lot of traits with Casey Duncan from the Rockton series. That being said that characters are very unique in their own ways. Armstrong does an excellent job of writing an intelligent thriller that has excellent pacing and action but also tackles a lot of psychological issues. Overall I thought this book was just perfect. It was incredibly hard for me to put down and I raced right through it. I loved the complex plot, the characters, the action scenes, the psychological aspects, and the pacing. I thought the whole thing was wonderfully done and have already went out and purchased the second book in the series. I would recommend to those who enjoy psychological thrillers with assassins and characters that are easy to engage with and interesting.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    3 1/2 stars. What a ride this book was. Right off the mark you were held and always the question was, what happens next. Nadia owns a B & B hunting lodge place just north of Peterborough Ontario, and is a former police officer. Something happened in her past that initiated her retirement from the force and she is now enjoying her business and living in the wilderness. She is a highly skilled and trained in the pursuit of the very worst type of criminals so it was probably in the cards that she wou 3 1/2 stars. What a ride this book was. Right off the mark you were held and always the question was, what happens next. Nadia owns a B & B hunting lodge place just north of Peterborough Ontario, and is a former police officer. Something happened in her past that initiated her retirement from the force and she is now enjoying her business and living in the wilderness. She is a highly skilled and trained in the pursuit of the very worst type of criminals so it was probably in the cards that she would get offers to do jobs on the opposite side of the law, specifically hit jobs on the other side of the border. She knows how to get in, get the job done, and get out without anyone knowing she was even there. Put that together with the fact that she requires some capital to help her business along and you can see how this could be a very eventful story. A very enjoyable read and I will be looking for more books from this author.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Minna

    I've been wanting to read this for a long time, but never got to it. So, was is worth the wait? Um, kinda. I've been reading Armstrong's paranormal romances and the feeling and style is very different. More low-key and slower. I had to take a few breaks from it, but I'm glad I finished it. The books are not bad but they were not what I expected. Maybe the pro killer angle is a bit hard for me to swallow even though I'm an avid afficionado of true crime. Maybe it's hard to see assassins as the goo I've been wanting to read this for a long time, but never got to it. So, was is worth the wait? Um, kinda. I've been reading Armstrong's paranormal romances and the feeling and style is very different. More low-key and slower. I had to take a few breaks from it, but I'm glad I finished it. The books are not bad but they were not what I expected. Maybe the pro killer angle is a bit hard for me to swallow even though I'm an avid afficionado of true crime. Maybe it's hard to see assassins as the good guys or that the story or motivation behind the HSK feels unbelievable.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julija

    The sad thing is, I really did love some parts of Exit Strategy. Specifically, The Chase. And even some of the characters. Despite the fact that the heroine did have a few moments of obliviousness so severe it was painful. But the pacing was just sooooooooo slow. And I get why there isn't much action, I do. And, indeed, all those makeovers were genuinely fun. But at the same time, it just dragged. And dragged. And dragged some more. Plus the ending just wasn't satisfactory. At all. All in all, a The sad thing is, I really did love some parts of Exit Strategy. Specifically, The Chase. And even some of the characters. Despite the fact that the heroine did have a few moments of obliviousness so severe it was painful. But the pacing was just sooooooooo slow. And I get why there isn't much action, I do. And, indeed, all those makeovers were genuinely fun. But at the same time, it just dragged. And dragged. And dragged some more. Plus the ending just wasn't satisfactory. At all. All in all, a disappointment. Much sad.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    Interesting enough. Nothing special and with a pretty abrupt ending

  30. 5 out of 5

    K~Terror

    Rating: 3.5

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