“Made to Be Broken” is a taut read by Kelley Armstrong. It’s book two in her series about a female contract killer and is a far cry from her ‘Underworld’ paranormal urban fantasy series. These books are a combination of murder, mystery, action, and suspense that grab you from the first page and carry you along as you delve into, not just the mystery, but the psyche of the lead characters and their decision-making processes. As a fan of her ‘Underworld’ books, when I picked up “Exit Strategy”, the first Nadia Stafford book, I was taken aback by how different it was from what I was expecting. But Armstrong’s sharp writing and keen character building kept me turning page after page. I just couldn’t put the sucker down!
With “Made to Be Broken”, I knew what I would be getting into and was curious as to whether the author could keep me reading about a character whose morals and motivations are so different than the norm. In this book, Nadia becomes involved with the disappearance of a local unwed, teen mother and her baby. Other than one friend, nobody in the small town expresses real concern about her disappearance; after all, she’s the Canadian version of ‘trailer trash’. But for Nadia, this disappearance brings back memories of a tragedy in her childhood and she’ll have to face the demons that still haunt her while struggling to come to terms with what her life is now and what her future will look like.
I was riveted to the scenes of Nadia’s equivalent of soul-searching. So far, all her kills have been ‘bad’ people. But to be a contract killer and protect her ‘other’, normal life…will that have to change? Can she justify killing on demand? And if not, where exactly does she draw the line?
All this is wrapped up in the mystery of the teen mom and baby. Nadia’s also dealing with two men, both of whom she has feelings for…but different feelings. Both men can accept Nadia for what she is, both now know about her two separate lives, and both want something from her. But figuring out what they want and what she herself wants is part of this story, so I’ll just leave it there.
I wasn’t in the least disappointed with book two of Nadia’s story. In fact, I’m greedy now for book three. If tense, pseudo-psychological murder mysteries interest you, I highly recommend Kelley Armstrong’s Nadia Stafford series.