Exit Strategy by Steve Hamilton

As I am reading a lot of crime fiction of late I am finding out what I like and what I don’t like. I’ve pretty much established that I’m not a fan of the psychological thriller — at least I haven’t found a recent release I’ve loved. Now I can add to the list the superhero thriller, guys — mainly guys — who can do anything without making a mistake and get out of any jam. The guy is usually an ex-Ranger or some other elite armed forces unit. He is an incredible shot whether at short-range with a pistol or long range with a sniper rifle. He is also an expert at hand-to-hand combat and usually has some good hacking chops when the need arises.

All of this kind of makes my review of Steve Hamilton’s Exit Strategy (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) kind of weird because I liked the story, but not so much the genre. Exit Strategy is filled with non-stop action and Hamilton can write at a furious pace. This book is the proverbial page turner.

The door to the bathroom opened. Quintero looked away for an instant, just long enough for Mason to grab the barrel of the gun and pull. The gun went off, the sound dampened by the suppressor, and the slug going right through the soft wood of the closet door. As Quintero pulled back, Mason went with him, heard Lauren’s scream as he rolled all the way over the bed, onto the floor. Quintero shoved his fingers into Mason’s bullet wound, making him cry out in pain. But he didn’t let go of the gun.

The two men remained locked together, the gun held at an impasse between them. Mason knew he didn’t have the strength to hold on. Not today. Quintero’s face was above him, the face that represented everything in his life that he had no control over, and now as he felt his hands slipping from the gun he wondered if this face would be the last thing he’d ever see.

But then another face came into view. Lauren, standing above and behind them. She had on a white robe and was holding something, a silver pole, which she wielded like a sword. Lauren raised the pole above her head, then brought it down hard on Quintero’s back. The man’s eyes went wide, and the breath left his body, as Lauren swung the pole again, this time hitting him square in the back of the head.

If one peel’s past the superhero mythos, Hamilton’s allows his lead character Nick Mason to show a glimmer of a humanity. Stuck in a job he hates, Mason moves through his life day-by-day executing the tasks assigned to him otherwise those he loves will be killed. Though this might be typical fare, Mason’s flicker of humanness helped me enjoy a genre book I might not necessarily would have. If the superhero thriller is your thing, you will find Steve Hamilton’s Exit Strategy a blistering and fun read.

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