Thursday, April 18, 2024

#Review -Second Shot by Cindy Dees #Thriller #Espionage

 Helen Warwick # 1
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Release Date: May 23, 2023
Publisher: Kensington
Source: Library
Genre: Thrillers / Espionage

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…

Cindy Dees' Second Shot is the first installment in the author's Helen Warwick series. 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. After unceremoniously being forced into retirement by the CIA, 55-year-old Helen Warwick is trying to settle down in her retirement to make up for lost time with her family, and her husband. 

Helen retired as a deadly sniper for the CIA with many sanctioned executions and likely as many enemies who would love to see her gone from this world. Especially the Russians. Unfortunately for Helen, retirement doesn't last long. In fact, as soon as the story opens, Helen is dog-sitting for her son Peter and his boyfriend Liang, who works for the NSA, when a hit squad of mercenaries barge into the couple's home and starts shooting. Helen is forced to protect herself, killing three of the shooters, and jumping right back into the espionage game. 

After the fourth escapes, Helen makes it her primary goal to hunt down this man and make him pay. Someone clearly has it out for the retired government assassin. Or, was it someone else and she got in the way? Soon, Helen is pulled into another twisted investigation by Angela Vincent. Angela is a Defense attorney who has clients who were framed by a serial killer. The serial killer known as the DaVinci Killer, thinks it's cool to use body parts to recreate famous works of art and post results on the dark web.

Here, the author introduces readers to two very disturbed and twisted individuals who used the name DaVinci Killer. One is a copycat trying to outdo the original, and the other is a sociopathic killer who may go by yet another name. Both killers have some really brutal ways to kill people while impressing the sickest people in society; those on the dark web. One of the killers may be a double agent deep in the heart of the federal government who will do whatever they can to keep their identity from being uncovered.

To top it off, Helen finds herself in yet another dangerous situation when a man deep in the heart of the federal government targets Helen's former boss Yosef Mizrah forcing her to think about who in the government is a traitor. And, if that weren't enough, Helen's family is truly horrible, except maybe her daughter and Liang Chen who helps Helen even though he might be in the way of a really dangerous individual. The one positive for Helen is her relationship with Yosef which I am not sure how far the author is willing to go with it. 

*Thoughts* Some may scoff at Helen being 55 and having the skills of a younger person. This is why I like Helen even when she is complaining about the aches and pains of growing old. Who among the 55-64 crown doesn't complain about aches and pains? I am curious to know whether or not Helen will finally break down and inform her twisted family of what she did for the past 25 years. I think Liang already knows seeing he got involved in tracking down a traitor. This book kind of reminds me of the novel Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn. Older women still do have skills even if the younger generation wants to put us all out to nursing homes. I am looking forward to seeing if the author can continue Helen's impressive abilities for another story. 

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