I can see the Nadia Stafford series as a tv show. It falls into the same category as a crime drama like CSI – shot mostly at night, but it also has the action of a spy thriller like Alias or La Femme Nikita. Despite this Armstrong series not being urban fantasy like her Otherworld books, I think it still has Armstrong traits – a smart heroine, a dark but not too dark storyline, plenty of action, plus some romantic elements. It's one of my favorite series out right now.
The basic background is this: Nadia is an ex-cop who left her law enforcement career amidst a very public shaming for killing a suspect in her custody. Knowing the the deepset trauma in her childhood that Nadia had never been able to come to peace with, her reasons for the killing become obvious. Of course, growing up in a family of cops, Nadia finds herself alone after this act because none of them agree with her method of justice. Now Nadia's the owner of a hunting lodge and channels her passion into a secret side job as a the contract killer "Dee". "Dee" works for one mob family, earning extra cash to keep her business afloat, but she only kills people who got away with some crime that deserves punishment.
Surrounding Nadia is a small group of people. Her hunting lodge employees on one side, her mentor Jack and a few people in the hitman business on the other. So when the teenage girl who Nadia has been paying to work part-time at the lodge disappears along with her baby, despite the town's belief that Sammi just ran off, Nadia decides to find out what happened.
I am not feeling very coherent right now so I think another bullet list would be best:
- I have a lot of the same comments as with the first book as this one. The characterization stays consistent between the books. My review of book 1 (in which Nadia and her fellows track a hitman turned serial killer) is here, and reading it I agree with myself there for this book too:
- "Almost everyone in this book: is the strong silent type. Even Nadia." – Nadia is pretty quiet but her mentor takes it to another level. He barely speaks in full sentences until he's putting on another persona. So background information comes in crumbs and it is fascinating to find out details about the characters.
- "The whole profession: REALLY interesting to read about." There is so much secrecy to keep their identities secret from each other – after all they're all killers. Nadia's identity is known by Jack and Evelyn only as they sought her out first to get into the business.
- "this book was delightful because I like a smart heroine. And Nadia Stafford is a smart woman; she has to be, she's a hitman."
- Again this book is told from the first person viewpoint, and this time we don't shift focus away from that.
- Nadia is very smart and good at what she does, but because she's "the strong silent type", she can be a bit oblivious about relationships. As is her mentor Jack. It amused me no end that another character, Evelyn, gets exasperated by it.
- The love triangle I thought there were hints of in book 1 begins to take shape in book 2. But of course, Nadia being dense doesn't really see it. So this has romantic elements because of it, but it's slow moving.
- The culmination of the missing teen case was quite good. I liked how it was handled and how Nadia took care of herself quite easily in the situation she found herself in.
I really enjoyed the first book in the series. I am really hoping that my library gets the second book in. Armstrong is one of my favourite series.