Second Shot by Cindy Dees
Mystery | Thriller
Helen Warwick is a recently retired CIA assassin who just wants to settle down and reconnect with her family. The only problem? She’s the one being targeted now…
Second Shot is the exciting new start to a brand new series. Packed with action, this novel features a highly-skilled but recently retired assassin, Helen Warwick, who has to use her professional skills to protect herself and her family.
I really enjoyed the characters in this novel — particularly the fact that we got to see a mature, female protagonist in this role. Helen is the sort of indestructible spy typical to this genre, and yet, the added family dynamic makes the book unique. Helen is struggling to reconnect with her children who don’t know the true nature of her past work, and I loved her “mama bear” trait and how her family was really at the center of all her decisions. Helen’s children, in particular, were incredibly irritating and flawed, but in a way that provided lighter moments for the story.
From the very first chapter, this book drew me in and refused to let go. There were several parallel storylines that kept the plot moving and packed with action. A large majority of mystery books featuring mature female protagonist land within the “cozy” category and I like how this novel gave us something fresh. (Warning: Some chapters had quite graphic descriptions of violence.) While there were elements to the mystery that didn’t quite fit together for me, I was more than happy to go along for the ride and see how it would all be resolved.
And this brings me to my one main complaint with the novel, in that I personally prefer stories to be fully wrapped up at the ending. Given that this is a series, I understand that the ambiguity and unanswered questions were intentionally left in order to bring readers back for the sequel. However, it made the last ten pages feel a bit rushed.
Second Shot has also been signed as a limited series, and I think it will make for both an excellent, binge-able watch and read. I will certainly be back for future books in this series!
Fans of spy novels with unique protagonists
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Advance copy of the book provided courtesy of the publisher, Kensington Books. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher): This taut, action-packed thriller introduces unforgettable heroine Helen Warwick, a highly skilled CIA assassin trying to navigate retirement, settle into a normal life, and reconnect with her family…in the midst of mortal combat.
Retirement isn’t easy for a former CIA assassin. For fifty-five-year-old Helen Warwick, it may be impossible. Even Helen’s family doesn’t know the true nature of the work she’s done for decades—the secret black ops, the sanctioned executions. But her plan to spend time reconnecting with her grown children has just been blown up—along with her son’s house—by hired killers. Why is she being targeted now—and by whom?
Years of eliminating the nation’s enemies one sniper bullet at a time have earned Helen powerful adversaries. Then there are mysterious new foes, including a psychopath dubbed The DaVinci Killer, who wages a twisted war with a rival serial killer to turn murder into art. And when he sets his sights on Helen, she may very well become his next exhibit.
From homegrown spies to Russian mafia hitmen, Helen’s ghosts don’t just haunt—they kill. And staying alive long enough to make up for the past, and protect those closest to her, will take every ounce of skill she possesses…