Alex Rose is an assassin and he is good at his job. He has done more hits than most of the guys way senior to him and he enjoys it. The morals of it don’t really bother Alex. Especially because he mostly takes the jobs featuring the abusers and deadbeats and other not so nice guys. But either way, it is a job and one he doesn’t mind doing.
Alex gets hired for a routine job to kill a woman’s cheating husband. The guy has not only had an affair, but is leaving her and the kids for his new girlfriend who has a baby on the way. Alex does the job with his usual flair, but gets worried when he is called before the big boss. That is something you definitely don’t want. Especially when Alex runs into his ex boyfriend and former mentor, Lance, at headquarters. Alex is even more distressed when he finds out he is being assigned a protege to train.
Alex has no interest in mentoring anyone, especially since Theresa is rude and sarcastic and definitely doesn’t seem to like him. It also strikes both Alex and Lance as odd that someone higher up the food chain wouldn’t have been chosen. Something definitely feels off, but you don’t say no to the boss, not if you want to live much longer. So Alex takes Theresa along with him to a new assignment killing an abusive husband. Even though it seems like it should be a routine hit, things go crazy on the job, and Alex and Theresa find their lives on the line. And even if Alex does make it out of this one safely, the mystery of what is really going on in his organization only deepens.
So this book is definitely a fun one, despite the serious subject matter. We are in Alex’s first person POV for the story, which allows him to narrate the craziness of his life. Alex is kind of antisocial and sarcastic and barely tolerates most people. He feels no remorse for killing people and just considers it like any other job. What I love here is how likable and entertaining Alex is. He is not a dark and scary guy; the fact that he comes across so normal (if surly) is what makes him so entertaining. Here is his early on talking about his job:
I was what most people call an assassin, though personally, I prefer the term problem solver. It rolled off the tongue better and didn’t make me sound like a dick. Folks came to me with people problems and I solved them with murder. It wasn’t as bad as it sounded; I got paid for it. And I certainly wasn’t a bad person. It was just a job; similar to a teacher or firefighter.
I kind of love that Alex is oblivious enough to equate killing people for a living with being a teacher. As the story goes along we learn more about Alex and his back story, and it becomes clear that he is a man with a painful past that he still hasn’t gotten over. He is not as unemotional as he seems, and it is clear his early experiences have shaped the man he is now. I won’t say that he is always likable, but he is a great narrator to guide us through the story.
The book itself has some twists and turns and one heck of an ending that blew me away. We follow along as Alex goes through two hits, one that is successful and one that falls apart. Kudo gives us great detail into the intricacies of life as a hitman. I especially loved reading about the staged car crash in the first hit and how Alex sets it all up. It is really quite clever. As the story goes on it becomes more clear that something is off. Little things aren’t adding up and Alex knows it, but he has no choice but to stick with it and see how things play out. And as I said, the ending is amazing and sets us right up for the next book in the series.
I do think the second hit took up a lot of time and didn’t advance things quite as much as I would have wanted. I guess beyond seeing things go to hell, I am not quite sure where it all fit in to the larger plot. Given how the story ends, I am wondering if we will learn more as the series continues, but it felt a bit meandering to me.
My other issue is I felt things with Lance landed too far in middle ground. This story is part of Wilde City’s Mainstream line, so I wasn’t expecting a romance, and this definitely isn’t one. Although the guys once dated and have a hook up here, their relationship is not the focus of the book and doesn’t really progress at this point, all of which makes sense. But at the same time, it is clear that Alex is in love with Lance, was deeply hurt by the breakup, and still has strong feelings that we see play out here. So there are major emotions and romantic feelings happening here. I feel like I either needed more of their relationship, or else less of the emotion, because it ended up feeling a bit caught in the middle. However, I assume more will get fleshed out as we get further into the series.
So overall I am really excited about this one. I loved Alex’s voice and really liked the different spin on the assassin story. It is a fun read and it kept me really interested, both with the small details as well as to see how things unfolded with the larger suspense plot. I am really looking forward to the next installment and would definitely recommend Red Rose.