I guess there is at least something logical about this, in how its heroine, Maggie Lee, becomes the assassin of the title. She takes on her first contract to pay the medical bills of her niece, left in a coma after a car accident which killed her parents and injured Maggie. That’s the kind of motivation which I can see, causing a person to take desperate steps. Unfortunately, it’s a rare island in a sea of largely implausible plotting and uninteresting characters.
First is how she comes to the attention of the mob: visiting her niece, she stumbles across a man assaulting another patient and fights him off. Turns out the patient is the head of the Delveccio crime family, who decides to hire Maggie to whack the assailant, his son-in-law. Quite why he prefers to entrust this to an insurance call-centre employee, when he clearly has far more experienced and capable personnel to hand, is never explained. Nor his decision to entrust Maggie with a minder, somewhat bent cop Patrick Mulligan, who trains her in the finer arts of killing. And I mean that sarcastically, since he has to explain that rule number one is, “Don’t get caught.” Really.
Then there’s the other cop, Paul Kowalski, who pulls Maggie over to give her a traffic ticket, which ends up with him asking her on a date. I’m not sure what purpose he serves in this store, except to set up the inevitable love triangle between him, Maggie and Patrick. Oh, and did I mention that Maggie can converse with animals, including her niece’s pet lizard? Why? Because her mother is in the loony bin, I guess: either that, or perhaps this talent was triggered by the accident. It’s such an incongruous element, in a series which is trying to remain relatively grounded in reality, it appears to have strayed in from another book entirely. I was also unimpressed with Maggie’s family, who are annoying more than endearing and whose drama occupy reams of pages, to the point that I wondered if Lynn was being paid by the word.
Once she has got through her first mission, turns out that’s far from the end of it, as Delveccio’s regular hit-man takes credit for the job, and Maggie has to get rid of him as well, in order to collect her fee. This is about the only sequence which managed to stick in my mind, bringing home effectively the point that killing someone can be difficult and unpleasant, especially when it’s not just a case of squeezing a trigger. But I’ve got to be honest: this book took twice as long to get through as most I’ve reviewed here. For when I went to bed, and it was a choice between reading some more chapters and fluffy, pillow-shaped goodness… The lure of Morpheus was generally a lot greater than the lure of Maggie.
Author: J.B. Lynn
Publisher: Avon Impulse, available through Amazon as an e-book – used copies of the paperback are… kinda pricey. As in five hundred bucks!