Book Review of Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford, Bk 1)

Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford, Bk 1)
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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.