01/06/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Bantam Spectra. 398 page paperback. Price: $ 6.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-553-58838-5.
check out websites: www.bantamdell.com and www.kelleyarmstrong.com
'Made To Be Broken' is a straightforward crime novel and all the better for it. Kelley Armstrong usually writes genre fiction with characters from her 'otherworld'.
Nadia Stafford owns a hotel and retreat in the wilderness of Canada. She needs money to keep it running and develop the hotel into a really superior resort but there are limited jobs available to a woman in the wilderness. Luckily, she's a crackshot so she takes the smart career route to work and becomes a hit woman. Obvious really. Don't know why I haven't thought of it myself.
She has company on this job. A chap called Quinn and a mentor called Jack. Nadia's not sure of her true relationship with either of them but finds them both intriguing in different ways.
Now there are complications to her other more tranquil life. Sammi, a young unmarried mother who works for Nadia is missing, along with her unwanted baby. The girl is unmissed by her closest family and unmourned by the town. Nadia must use her skills to attempt to follow Sammi and find out what really happened to her.
'Made To Be Broken' is written in the direct and unflowery language of the American thriller. What you see is what you get. Armstrong has used these characters before and keeps a story arc for the series running through this book but it's not problem reading it as a one-off.
Armstrong has created an interesting character in Nadia. She feels she is essentially moral but this is a woman who takes out people with a high-velocity rifle for pin money. All right, not for pin money but to keep her hotel financially afloat, so that's all right then. She feels she is dealing out justice through her contracts, the bad guys killing off the bad guys. But increasingly, she is challenged to move her moral compass until she cannot command that moral high-ground anymore.
I enjoyed the story and it has a good pay-off at the end. Surprisingly, I did not miss the supernatural plot which sometimes feels shoe-horned in. This makes a refreshing change and moves at a good pace. It's quite short so there is no time to get bored. I do find the choice of heroine disturbing and the concept morally repugnant. I appreciate its fiction but it's unsettling to have only this woman to choose to support. As a result, it detached me from the outcome and could not have cared less about her. I didn't feel I'd gained any insight from the book.
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