Review: The Nullifier by Erin M. Leaf

TheNullifierRating: 1.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella


Nick Banner was thrown out of his house when he came out to his parents as gay and spent his years on the streets doing what he had to do to survive. As far as he’s concerned, he has no parents. His sister, however, is another matter. When she calls him in tears, asking for help in leaving her abusive boyfriend, Nick drops everything and rushes to her side. He’ll do what it takes to get her free of Quincy Edwards.

Felix Zamaro is considering retirement. He’s a killer, an assassin for hire who isn’t in it for the fun or the money. It’s a job like any other and he’s good at it. He’s also, lately, been bored by it. Felix has decided to do one last contract, mostly because it’s an unusual request, and unusual means interesting. Powerful mob boss Edwards wants his nephew killed.

Earlier in the day Felix became involved in a robbery as two idiots tried to rob a convenience story right when Felix was trying to buy himself a sandwich for dinner. Unfortunately, a bystander ended up injured when Felix wrested the gun away from one of the robbers: a handsome, blond man that caught Felix’s eye. Little did he know he’d be seeing the man again quite so soon.

When casing Quincy Edward’s house, Felix discovers a young woman — Quincy’s girlfriend — and the blonde man from before arguing with Quincy on the sidewalk. Felix can’t kill his target now without getting Nick involved, something he isn’t willing to do. But when Nick and his sister are threatened by Quincy’s men, Felix can’t help but get involved, drawing Nick ever deeper into Felix’s world of darkness and death.

I had trouble connecting with this book. Part of it was the utter lack of personalities of the characters, part of it was the lack of respect with which the author treated the plot, and the other part was the offensive and dated turning point that was supposed to take Nick from mild mannered to mean.

Starting with the characters, Felix has no personality. He’s middle-aged and good at killing. He has no attachments to anything, no likes or dislikes, no opinions on anything. Then there’s Nick. He’s pushy, aggressive, and… bland. There is no chemistry between them; nothing added to nothing equals nothing, after all. Nick’s one redeeming point was supposed to be his love for his sister, but even that falls flat.

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In order to create tension, Jessica is a battered girlfriend, weepy and needy. Nick and Felix leave her with a friend for protection while they go off to kill Quincy and when they get back, Jessica is dead. Nick is mildly put out, goes with Felix to kill Quincy, and that’s it. The ‘girl in the fridge’ trope is old, hackneyed, and offensive both to the girl in question and to the character it’s being used on. If you have to have someone you love killed to make you an interesting or sympathetic person, you weren’t a good character to begin with.

When first meeting Nick and his sister, Felix doesn’t give them the alias he’s been using — the alias Nick already knew from the robbery when the police took their information. No, he gives them his real name because he’s instantly, inexplicably, and irritatingly already in love with Nick, or at least well on his way to it. He tells Nick he’s a hired killer and takes both Nick and his sister off to his safe house for their protection, undoing all the work that went in to keeping him — as an assassin — safe, and to keeping his employer, his middle-man, and everyone who helped put his cover identity together (ID, papers, etc.) from repercussions or danger. Because he loves Nick.

This is followed by an uncomfortable and skeezy sex scene where Nick decides he’s going to force himself on someone who identifies as straight because Nick knows better. When he starts getting really pushy Felix says, “Stop.” Nick, however, has no intention of stopping. No, he says, “Make me,” and blows Felix who suddenly, instantly, and magically becomes gay. Nick’s just that good. Several more sex scenes follow where Nick informs Felix that not only does he like it rough, but he wants to bareback. No questions, no concerns, just more sex.

Later, having killed Quincy, Nick and Felix go at it like bunnies on the couch next to the dead body. This time Nick decides to top Felix without question or warning. Felix, the newly gay man has no issue with it, and then the two ride off into the sunset. It’s a mediocre story with nothing to recommend it. Other people may enjoy the quick, rough, and tumble sex scenes with a threadbare story wrapped around it, but I didn’t.

elizabeth sig

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