hitman's guide to code names and ill-gotten gains coverRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel


Leland is once gain finding himself in the middle of trouble, this time ending up at a convenience story robbery in progress. Leland manages to stop it with his superior skills, particularly since one of the gunmen seems more terrified than intimidating. And when the guy turns out to be just a teenager caught up in trouble and he comes to Leland for help, Leland and Jackson can’t say no.

It turns out that Waylon’s brother is in jail after getting mixed up with a gang and being charged with murder, but Waylon is certain his brother didn’t do it. Jackson and Leland agree to do some digging around to see what they can find out, and the case definitely seems suspicious. With two rival gangs involved, not to mention a hitman or two, things are getting complicated. And when Leland’s old handler, Lucas, somehow gets involved, Leland knows there is more going on than it appears on the surface. Lucas loves nothing more than to make Leland miserable and somehow he is still managing to reel him in, even from jail. However, Leland is not alone anymore like he was growing up. Now he has Jackson by his side, along with Jeremy, Cassel, and Henry, and while it may be wild ride, together they can get to the truth and stop the bad guys before it is too late.

The Hitman’s Guide to Codenames and Ill-Gotten Gains is the latest installment in Alice Winter’s Hitmans’ Guide series, reuniting us with Leland and Jackson and the whole gang. I’ll admit to a thrill when I picked this up and saw these characters again. There is just something so wonderfully absurd about it all, but with so much heart, and I immediately settled right in to the latest adventures. This story has a nice balance of the personal and the suspense side. As the series has developed, we have seen Leland build this wonderful found family that means so much to him. He went from all alone to surrounded by people who really care about them (even if they can’t always admit it). There are some nice moments here as Leland struggles with his past where we see that the connections he has formed really help ground him and give him confidence. Along with that softness are the usual hijinks for the group and I love the way they all just click together. While Leland is the star of the show most of the time, I continue to really enjoy Jackson. He is the steady rock, the one who has such a soft spot for his wild husband, and just a bit of his own unexpected lawless streak. I really enjoy watching these guys together and had several laugh out loud moments during the story.

On the suspense side, we get plenty of chances to see Leland do what he does best and some of my favorite scenes are watching him and Cassel take on the various bad guys. Seeing these highly skilled assassins take on trouble, while at the same time be total goofballs, is such a fun juxtaposition. There are plenty of intense moments along the way, giving this one a lot of energy and excitement, even in a long book. I did find the mystery/investigation side of things got a little complicated for me. I didn’t always remember who everyone was, as there are a lot of side characters floating around. And I am not sure I fully understand who was behind it all and why. But overall, I think it worked well enough, especially given how much else is going on in the story.

If you like the previous books in this series, you are going to have a great time with this one as well. I found this book a lot of fun and I really enjoyed getting a chance to reconnect with these characters. It is a story with lots of laughs and the right amount a heart.

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