Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford #1)” as Want to Read:
Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Exit Strategy

(Nadia Stafford #1)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  7,463 ratings  ·  489 reviews
Popular fantasy author Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld) makes a thrilling foray into crime fiction, with the debut of a series featuring female assassin Nadia Stafford.

Stafford is one of the world’s few female contract killers. A former cop, drummed out of the force because of a scandal, she is an expert at disguise and cool under pressure. But when fellow hitman
Paperback, 480 pages
Published June 26th 2007 by Bantam
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,463 ratings  ·  489 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford #1)
Alex is The Romance Fox
I am a huge fan of Kelley Armstrong and it was a real surprise finding her new series that is nothing like her others, namely paranormal romance.

Introducing a new kick-ass protagonist, Nadia Stafford, ex cop turned hit woman/assassin of bad guys, we are taken into a world of criminals, assassins, spies filled with suspense and mystery.

Nadia Stafford, dishonorably retired from a Canadian police force for shooting a suspect dead, now owner of a lakeside lodge in the Canadian wilderness and part-ti
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
3/28/18 - ON SALE for $1.99:

I didn't love this first book in the series, but I did love the second and third, so . . . do with that what you will.

Kelley Armstrong is turning into a major point of confusion for me.

Most of the time when I REALLY a series by author--I'm talking Top 5 UF Series here--other books by the same author are a pretty safe bet. I might not absolutely love every single thing the write, but for the most part, I like them enough to have them on my a
Nadia is quite refreshing in that she's a strong female character capable of keeping up with the boys who doesn't rely on cheap wisecracks. As her urban-fantasy series shows Armstrong is good at writing strong women and layering them without the usual cliches. The characters feel real, even without learning every detail you see how different things drive them.

The morality is interesting. They're paid assasins; our 'good-guys' aren't lily white, I found it an interesting mix. Nadia who has bounda
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Most mystery or action-heroine fans
Recommended to Werner by: My goodreads friend Mary JL gve it a good review
Canadian author Kelley Armstrong is best known as a bestselling writer of urban fantasy. Her Nadia Stafford trilogy was her first foray into the mystery/crime fiction genre. Having already read the sequel novellas that conclude the series, I really want to read the original trilogy. This first volume didn't disappoint!

After a short, grim prologue in third person, Chapter 1 introduces us to series protagonist Nadia, who'll be our first person narrator for the bulk of the novel. (The parts from ot
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 TO 4 STARS

Kelley Armstrong is a fantastic writer. I've loved everything I've read by her and even though this is different from her usual, I still really liked it. Nadia Strafford is a hitwoman, used to be a cop until a serious decision resulted in career-ending consequences. She also owns a lodge in Northern Ontario where she dreams of one day retiring to, but a serial killer is hunting innocent individuals and it all seems for fun. Along with her mentor Jack, and his associate, Evelyn, the
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who have trouble falling asleep
Shelves: kelley-armstrong
2.5 Stars

This story felt very unlike KA: the characters come out as undeveloped sketches ( instead of mysterious), and the pace was SLOW as f***. -_-
This has to be the most tedious thriller I have ever read... next to The Other Daughter.
I lost count to the number of times in which I simply lost track of what I had read, simply because everything was so Boring.
And slow. And uneventful.
Also I hate when characters are supposed to come out as badasses, and when push comes to shove they fail miserabl
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
What a fun read and unexpected female protagonist! Regulars at Nadia's nature lodge don't ask what she does in the off-season. And that's a good thing. If she told them, she'd have to kill them. She's a hit woman for a Mafia family.Yes, a disgraced cop turned lodge owner turned gun for hire. But Nadia is very picky about her targets - they all must be Mafia thugs. She is very cautious when she is on the job as we see in the first couple of chapters.

And then, something that can place her and eve
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
You know the situation, when you expect so much from the book and it just left you disappointed?
With “Exit strategy” situation was reversed. I picked it up not expecting anything higher than middle-class book, but I find myself really enjoying it.
The summary of it is that an ex-cop now works as a hitwoman and unites with other hitmen for killing another hitman who became a serial killer. I think it is a cool story! It was full with action, strategy planning, police procedures and insight in hitm
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So happy that I picked up this series by one of my favourite writers! I am thoroughly immersed and captivated by the characters and love the action packed pace of this book. Can’t go wrong with this one!
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nadia Stafford owns a lodge in the Canadian Wilderness, catering to hunters and outdoorsmen. When she's not working at the lodge, Nadia is a professional hitman, working for the mob to take out members that stray. Nadia is approached by her mentor Jack. There is a ruthless serial killer known as the Helter Skelter Killer (HSK). He has left bodies littering the countryside. Jack believes HSK may be a retired hitman. He wants to put together a group to take out HSK before he brings the heat of the ...more
Jacob Proffitt
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
I quit at about the 90% mark. The emotional constipation of Jack and Nadia was hard to take (however charming it started) but I started to lose charity when so many "chance" events started breaking the same way—to prolong the story. I try to be generous about chance in fiction novels. Life is a gamble, after all, so it makes sense if random plays a role in a novel. After a bit, though, I began to suspect that random wasn't really in play. I can generally give the bad guy a good break and the goo ...more
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is such a good thriller from one of my favourite urban fantasy writers. Thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. Looking forward to reading book 2, don't know why I never got round to continuing the series first time I read this! ...more
4.5 stars

I loved the idea of professional killers investigating one of their own when he turns into a serial killer, causing trouble for them all. And I loved the moral ambiguity. I have a soft spot for characters with gray (sometimes very very dark gray) morals. All of the characters are so much fun to hang out with: Nadia, former cop turned hitwoman, is a great main character to follow; Jack, who is still pretty much a complete mystery in this first book, is intriguing; and the secondary chara
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book because of the smart heroine. Nadia Stafford has to be, she's a hitman. People just don't last long in that business without brains. Either you get caught or you get killed. Nadia, or "Dee" (as she is called by other assassins who don't know her real name), was once a cop, born into a family of cops. After a traumatic childhood event, all it took for Nadia to take things into her own hands was one criminal scumbag who had hurt a young girl. Clearly she has issues brimming under ...more
Audiobook Re-Read August 2017

Re-read June 2016

This was such a lovely re-read. I guess I am in a bit of a book slump, but this hit the spot.

Original Review

Ahhh, finally plunging into my last Kelley Armstrong series (well, not counting unpublished books!). This is set in the real world and just that was enough to make it feel like a very different kind of book for Armstrong. (Or maybe that was just me being overly conscious of that.)

(Hey, my boss just called me a winner. Writing reviews, working,
Dec 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
[Reread 09/05/16: Still excellent.]

This is a story of a hitwoman who is hired by a hitman to join a group of hitmen to track down and eliminate a serial killer who is also a hitman-gone-mad. Got it? Great.

Knowing what I do of Armstrong's other series (romance-heavy), I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. Nadia is my favorite type of heroine - she's smart and tough and has her own moral code based on personal experience, rather than a naive understanding of the world. She's a former
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this series and can't wait for book 3. The dynamic between Nadia and Jack is so amazing! I look forward to the day one of them finally has the courage to tell the other how they feel!

Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2010
I'm a HUGE fan of Armstrong's Otherworld series, and of Kelley Armstrong herself, as I find she is an amazing, top notch, extraordinary author. Her descriptive, detailed and very evocative writing style is a joy to read, the readers feel as if they were in the middle of the story, seeing everything unfold in front of their eyes as in a movie. So the question wasn't whether I would read her not paranormal novels but when I would get around to read them. I gobbled up the first in the series (Exit ...more
Apr 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Exit Strategy is an intriguing beginning to unique series. Nadia, a hitwoman, gets a visit from her mentor, Jack. A hitman has become a serial killer and it has the possibility of shining too much light on their profession. Nadia and Jack team up with a crew of other hitmen to find the rogue and put a stop to his killing spree.

I loved getting to know Nadia. Her life before becoming an assassin and her motivation for doing what she does is strangely endearing. What I enjoyed most about the story
Carolyn Crane
Oct 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: suspense
Kelley Armstrong wrote one of my favorite books, Bitten. She’s fantastic writer and this is a sleeper series that definitely deserves more attention. I love the world of Nadia Stafford, and the interesting and meaty moral situations presented here.

While Exit Strategy is a definite deviation for her – no magic, very vague-to-no romance, it has all the Armstrong hallmarks--tight plotting, great details and well-drawn characters, right down to their speech patterns.

And it was deliciously psycholog
Oct 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Loved the idea of professional hit woman (women and one man, actually) going after a rogue killer, and this would have been rated higher if Jack's speech pattern hadn't been quite so irritating. Like nails on chalkboard irritating - not saying much doesn't mean you have to omit every single pronoun from every single (short) sentence. I also didn't quite buy Nadia's justifications for the jobs she took, as there were glaring logical errors in her defence of working for a Mob family. But mostly th ...more
Raimey Gallant
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Loved the cross-border intrigue aspect of this story, as well as the brief glimpses into the POVs of the antagonist as well as his victims. Also, the characterization is great, especially for Jack.
Not sure how to rate this book; the main characters are not heroic at all.
IMHO, this was a cliffhanger end, especially since I did not realize it was the first in a series.
Now I have to decide whether I want to know how things end enough to trudge through more books with these characters....
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is what could be the first in a series... and I loved it!

Nadia is a character all in herself. Her thoughts, her feelings, everything she sees - as the reader, you see. The way Armstrong incorporated Nadia's past into the novel was excellent. Not all right at the beginning, and you keep flipping pages, not only to see what happens next, but to find out more about Nadia and understand why she is the way she is.

Jack - there's a man I'd like to get to know. And I have a feeling that Nadia will
Mary JL
May 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any mystery or action fan
Recommended to Mary JL by: I received the book as a gift
Shelves: mystery-horror
This was very fast paced and excing. Starts out with two murders in the first 20 parges and keeps going.

Usually I prefer heroes to anti-heroes, and Nadia is a hitwoman. Nevertheless, the story pulled me in and I fou8nd it compelling reading. The flashbacks we get of Nadia's traumatic past make her a more sympathetic character, despite her occupation.

Therer is also a great deal of suspernse--when your partners are fellow hitmen, it is hard to know who to trust. Add public panic, the media frenzy
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
Jack talk like caveman. Pronouns bad. Complete sentences bad. Drove me crazy. Bit much, even for character development. We get it, Kelley; the strong silent type. Man of few words. You don't have to club us in the head with it, however.

Mildly enjoyable read, if you can stand a main character speaking the whole time like he's an idiot. Nadia is a bit of a ding bat airhead herself. I don't know how she hasn't gotten herself killed in "the business" considering how careless she is.

I love reading bo
Feb 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Yes, I already re-read this. I just ordered book 3 after practically inhaling books 1 and 2, so I’m re-reading not just because I’m really enjoying myself but to also make sure I didn’t miss any savory characterization details while I was focused on plot. May I just say, this is a series worth burning through!

What Works

Second time around, I think one of the reasons this book is so impressive is because it has the same polished feel that Bitten does. All of the books in K.A.’s Otherworld series a
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book in the only Armstrong series I haven’t read, the Nadia Stafford series. There are three books in this series. I really enjoyed this book a lot. It provided an excellent mystery and intriguing characters. Previous to reading this series I have read all of Armstrong’s other series; my least favorite of her series were the Women of the Otherworld series (only read the first three books) and her Blackwell Pages series (only read the first book). I have pretty much adored every ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars.
What a ride this book was. Right off the mark you were held and always the question was, what happens next.

Nadia owns a B & B hunting lodge place just north of Peterborough Ontario, and is a former police officer. Something happened in her past that initiated her retirement from the force and she is now enjoying her business and living in the wilderness.

She is a highly skilled and trained in the pursuit of the very worst type of criminals so it was probably in the cards that she wou
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I've been wanting to read this for a long time, but never got to it. So, was is worth the wait? Um, kinda.

I've been reading Armstrong's paranormal romances and the feeling and style is very different. More low-key and slower. I had to take a few breaks from it, but I'm glad I finished it. The books are not bad but they were not what I expected. Maybe the pro killer angle is a bit hard for me to swallow even though I'm an avid afficionado of true crime. Maybe it's hard to see assassins as the goo
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Wild Sign (Alpha & Omega, #6)
  • Blood Heir (Aurelia Ryder, #1)
  • Heartbreak Bay (Stillhouse Lake #5)
  • Destiny Kills (Myth and Magic #1)
  • Undone
  • Murder at Wedgefield Manor (A Jane Wunderly Mystery #2)
  • Sebastian (Ephemera, #1)
  • Fate's Edge (The Edge, #3)
  • Mélusine (Doctrine of Labyrinths, #1)
  • Corambis (Doctrine of Labyrinths, #4)
  • The Virtu (Doctrine of Labyrinths, #2)
  • An Earthly Knight
  • The Mirador (Doctrine of Labyrinths, #3)
  • Precinct 13
  • Sinister Magic (Death Before Dragons, #1)
  • Only Once
  • A Discovery of Secrets and Fate (Chronicles of the Stone Veil, #2)
  • Shattered Justice (A Bone Gap Travellers, #3)
See similar books…
Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers' dismay. All efforts to make her produce "normal" stories failed.

Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked a

Other books in the series

Nadia Stafford (3 books)
  • Made to Be Broken (Nadia Stafford, #2)
  • Wild Justice (Nadia Stafford, #3)

Related Articles

  Mateo Askaripour is a Brooklyn-based writer whose debut novel, Black Buck—which Colson Whitehead calls a “mesmerizing novel, executing a high...
76 likes · 8 comments
“Tell me half a cup’s worth of story and we’ll call it a night.” 2 likes
More quotes…