Review: The Kill List by Nichole Christoff

kill list by nichole christoffFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: thriller
Series: Jamie Sinclair #1
Length: 247 pages
Publisher: Random House Alibi
Date Released: December 2, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

As a top private eye turned security specialist, Jamie Sinclair has worked hard to put her broken marriage behind her. But when her lying, cheating ex-husband, army colonel Tim Thorp, calls with the news that his three-year-old daughter has been kidnapped, he begs Jamie to come find her. For the sake of the child, Jamie knows she can’t refuse. Now, despite the past, she’ll do everything in her power to bring little Brooke Thorp home alive.

Soon Jamie is back at Fort Leeds—the army base in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens where she grew up, the only child of a two-star general—chasing down leads and forging an uneasy alliance with the stern military police commander and the exacting FBI agent working Brooke’s case. But because Jamie’s father is now a U.S. senator, her recent run-in with a disturbed stalker is all over the news, and when she starts receiving gruesome threats echoing the stalker’s last words, she can’t shake the feeling that her investigation may be about more than a missing girl—and that someone very powerful is hiding something very significant . . . and very sinister.

My Review:

kill shot by nicole christoffI picked this book because I’m signed up for a tour for the second book in the series (The Kill Shot) next week. At least with series that aren’t too far down the path, I like to start from the beginning.

And what a beginning this one is! Wow! What a ride.

Jamie Sinclair is a fascinating point-of-view character. She is a security consultant as well as a private investigator. She also has a not-so-secret penchant for taking cases that involve child kidnapping. Which is how her ex manages to get her involved with his life again – but not in any way that helps him.

Not that he thinks its going to turn out quite the way that it does. Jamie’s interest is in saving the child, what happens with the adults is only her problem if it contributed to the kidnapping or if it gets in her way.

She has just finished up a case that splashed itself in the headlines. A pedophile was stalking a news anchorwoman in Philadelphia and tried to kidnap her two kids. Jamie got the guy, but in the process, he nearly slit her throat and managed to switch his sick fixation from the newswoman to Jamie.

Let’s just say ick.

When her ex calls and practically orders her to come to New Jersey’s Leeds Army Base to help him, she plans to refuse, until he tells her that his 4-year-old daughter has been kidnapped. It doesn’t matter that this child, and his girlfriend’s pregnancy with same, was the cause of their divorce. All that matters to Jamie is the little girl.

Things get messy fast. Jamie and her ex have serious issues that have nothing to do with the kidnapping. He thinks he can order her around because he was psychologically abusive when they were married. It doesn’t work half so well this time around.

The FBI agent assigned to the case is on that she has crossed paths with before on a similar case. The last time she and Kev Jaeger “worked together” the children died because Kev was just a bit too “by the book”. Unfortunately for Jamie, she and Kev had a one-night stand during the emotional depths of the case. Their professional relationship is tempestuous.

The head of the Military Police on base is someone that Jamie would like to get to know a hell of a lot better. But her reaction to Adam Barrett, and vice versa, is not exactly professional. Jamie is very gun shy of overstepping those boundaries after the fiasco with Kev.

And last, but certainly not least in this case, the job that Jamie’s ex Tim Thorp now holds as base commander at Leeds is the job that Jamie’s father, a retired general who is now a U.S. Senator, used to hold. Jamie grew up in the house that her ex now lives in.

This story has a lot of sticky bits. Everyone is connected to everyone else, in multiple ways, and not necessarily in ways that are going to further anyone’s investigation. This is a very closed little world, and familiarity has bred contempt between a whole lot of the participants.

Jamie is looking for the little girl, Brooke, who has juvenile diabetes and is way too young to manage it herself. If her kidnappers don’t know, or don’t care, Brooke will be dead in three days.

The case lasts for a week. Hope fades. But complications arise is flocks.

Because this isn’t about little Brooke. The case is about Jamie’s ex Tim Thorpe and whatever the hell he did to wind up with stacks of cash in his safe. He’s lying to everyone, and it looks like his child has been caught in the crossfire.

Meanwhile, Jamie’s stalker is still out there. A homeless psychotic in Philly couldn’t possibly have a connection to a child abduction case in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. Or could he?

Just like Tim Thorp’s web of lies, this case has a lot more threads than anyone could have imagined.

Escape Rating B+: I liked this story, and I liked Jamie. The thriller aspect kept me pulling out the book in unlikely places just so I could finally find out who done it, and whether I had guessed anything right. (The answer is both yes and no).

I did figure out what Thorp was hiding, and where the money came from. In the end, he’s revealed to be slime, but it is pretty obvious that he is a lying scumbag from the very beginning – it just takes a while to zero in on what he’s lying about that is getting everyone in his orbit shot at and his daughter kidnapped.

Jamie is a terrific character. She has been through a lot, and has emerged strong. Sometimes a little too tough and strong for her own good. But he stands on her own two feet, except when her father enters the picture.

There’s a strong thread in this story about psychological abuse and the effects it has on adult children who have survived. Jamie is not the only person in this story who was abused as a child, and the way that they have each been affected is a key part of figuring out who, and more importantly why, all the perpetrators are in this mess.

It’s also pretty clear that Jamie’s messed up relationship with her father led directly to marriage to another man just like him, so that the cycle continued. Jamie’s better, but I don’t see her as completely out. Her dad’s constant negative opinion of her, even when he is not present, still rules a lot of her behavior.

I even liked the way that Jamie’s potential relationship with MP Adam Barrett is explored slowly and carefully. They both have a lot of baggage that makes relationships difficult. The middle of this case was not a good place to start.

The thing that bothered me about Jamie is that every man she meets seems to fall in love with her. The cop that she regularly works with in Philly is definitely carrying a torch for her, and is both obvious and sad about it. Jamie isn’t encouraging him, but she also still has to work with him and needs his friendship.

The FBI agent Kev Jaeger is also falling all over her, and falls all over himself when Adam Barrett starts showing an interest. Kev’s jealousy gets in the way of the investigation at some points.

Then there’s Adam Barrett. Jamie and Adam meet and fall instantly into something which they both resist as long as they can. While I liked their relationship, it was one too many. If romantic part of this romantic suspense plot was Adam and Jamie, then someone else shouldn’t have been in this picture. Probably the poor, sad Philly cop. He could have been fatherly concerned instead of romantically concerned and still served the same place in the story.

The way that all the cases finally wrapped up held a LOT of surprises. Even though the long arm of coincidence meant that they had to come together in the end, the way they came together caught me by surprise.

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2 thoughts on “Review: The Kill List by Nichole Christoff

  1. I hope in next book, Jamie won’t leave a trail of heartbroken men behind her and that the story will still be as good 🙂 So far, it looks interesting !

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