Professional bodyguard Atticus Kodiak (Shooting at Midnight, 1999, etc.) returns to face one of the world's most fearsome assassins. To Atticus, being a bodyguard is a high calling, and when he signs on to do a job, his client's person becomes utterly sacrosanct. Internationally famous children's advocate Lady Antonia Ainsley-Hunter already knows that. She's been protected by Atticus before, but this time she's being hunted by Drama, a killer so deadly even Atticus finds her intimidating. Sure, he beat Drama once, but that's irrelevant as far as he's concerned he was lucky. Drama strikes, and after a complex series of befuddling feints and brilliant dodges she bags Lady Antonia. It's at this point that the story takes a deliciously unexpected twist. The assassin has captured Lady Antonia merely as leverage. She wants something from Atticus, something she's convinced he won't want to give. Atticus thinks it's his life, a matter of payback. He's wrong. She wants to be his client. Drama has discovered there's a contract out on her, held by a hit man code-named Oxford who is so accomplished that only the services of Atticus Kodiak can keep her alive-but not Atticus as he is now: rather, Atticus as she can train him to be if he agrees to take on the gig. If he does, Lady Antonia goes free. If he doesn't, she's advocated on behalf of her last child. Naturally, Atticus accepts the deal and Drama as his client-trainer. Thereupon, Oxford stalks them both in a skillfully orchestrated cat-and-mouse game during which cat and mouse have a most entertaining way of switching roles. Deftly plotted, elegantly written: might just be the thriller of the year.
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