CIA agent Helen Warwick is officially retired, but a bunch of shadowy people still want her dead in the rollicking mystery thriller Second Shot by Cindy Dees (His Christmas Guardian; Over the Top). At age 55, Warwick is done being a hit person for the CIA. Her three neglected kids are now fully grown--and a little bitter. To begin amends, Helen agrees to dog-sit for the puppy of middle child Peter and his partner, Li, while they enjoy a night out. Things go awry when four trained assassins burst in, shooting. Helen takes down three but one gets away, and Peter and Li's newly renovated house is left in shambles. Peter is livid, and the police don't understand how Helen got so lucky defending herself. Enter Yosef Mizrah, Helen's ex-handler, to help smooth things over. Yosef does some digging on who ordered the hit on Helen but is shot before coming up with a name. On her own and without a friend at the agency, Helen launches a rogue investigation. Meanwhile, the bullets keep flying, and both Helen and her family are caught up in the crossfire. Helen is older now and working alone without any idea of who is hunting her. She is kind of thrilled to have a second shot at her old job, but someone is determined to make it her last.
Author Cindy Dees's background (intelligence work and detainment by both the KGB and East German police during her military career) and the nuanced writing of Second Shot suggests more exciting adventures to come in a projected series. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer