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Second Shot

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What a heck of a read! Thrilling, engaging, and one heck of a ride. Cindy Dees absolutely blew me away with one. Can't wait for the next book.

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Second Shot
by Cindy Dees

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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

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Recently retired CIA assassin Helen Warwick is trying to lead a normal life & connect with her adult children. But when an innocent night dog sitting at her son Peter's house leads to three hired killers trying to eliminate her, Helen is really angry. With the help of her former handler Yosef, Helen tries to figure out who has set up the hit. Meanwhile, a serial killer known as The DaVinci Killer wages a bizarre war with the original killer to turn murder into art.

This was a strong debut thriller in a new series featuring an older protagonist. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

I received a digital ARC from Netgalley and Kensington Books. All opinions are my own.

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I wasn't sure what to expect from Second Shot what I read was better than I could have expected!
Middle aged woman who is trying to keep her kids in the dark and safe about what she does for a living.
The first page in the story has the female lead trying to protect friends' dog from hired killers.
The female lead has some fun moments along with humors places she hides weapons and creative thoughts on killing the killers. I loved every second of this read and would recommend it to everyone.
Thank you Netgalley

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Super fun book!

We have a retired former CIA Assassin named Helen Warwick who is just trying to enjoy being retired. Unfortunately, one day while dog sitting for her son she gets attacked by four assassins trying to take her out. She makes quick work out of three of them but one gets away and she immediately tries to find out who took that hit out on her.

This sets up a glorious book with flying bullets, intrigue, serial killers, and tons of gritty action. Loved it! Helen has a ton of personality and snark as she tries to get to the bottom of why someone is trying to kill her. Explaining to the cops on how a 55 year old woman managed to kill three grown men was pretty funny.

If you like action packed assassin capers then this one is definitely your jam.

Advance Reader Copy given free for a honest review.

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In the vein of "Killers of a Certain Age", "Second Shot" features a retired CIA assassin who's just trying to connect with her grown children after spending much of their childhood on assignment. This book is a fast-paced, humorous thrill ride as Helen takes out the killers who are tracking her down while trying to keep her children safe and her history secret. The book ends on a cliffhanger, so I'm looking forward to more adventures of Helen Warwick.

Thanks to Kensington Books for access to a digital ARC on NetGalley.

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Everything starts out nice and easy and then suddenly Kaboom ! everything suddenly explodes. What a GREAT start! I loved that! And it was my hope that this would continue because I was liking Helen really quickly. I wanted to see her open a can of whoop a$$ on the people targeting her and her family. I also loved her thought at the end of the second chapter. "Somebody was going to pay for making Gray and the kids wait And they'd scared her grand-dog half to death." What's not to like about that kind of determination?
This story kept me involved every step of the explosive way. I can hardly put into words how much I loved it but I'll try. The more I got involved with Helen the more I loved her and the struggles that she encounters. Especially with the price she has paid with her loss of time with her family. She was protecting them but they couldn't know that. Her husband, Grayson spent most of the time raising the children but even so I didn't really like or respect him much.
Someone that I did like and respect was the friendship between Helen and her handler, Yosef Mizrah. There were hints of some attraction but they were both married and didn't cross that line.
I was left with the feeling that the story was so well written with just the right tensions, clever actions during dangers, and such interesting depth to all of the people in the story. It was so easy to believe that Helen was a skilled assassin, who gets out of some pretty tricky spots. She's not weak in us seeing her emotions either.
All in all, like I said I loved it and I stand by that. I wish that I could rate this book higher. The last thing that I want to say is Give me More of Helen.

“I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

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A bang up start to a new series, featuring a retired CIA agent, Helen. Fast paced and full of action it kept me turning pages. It is a well plotted story. I look forward to more in this series.

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I knew from the first chapter I was going to enjoy this book - Helen Warwick is a retired CIA contract killer who hasn't lost her skills just because she's been forced our for being middle aged. From the first shots fired to the final chapter the action doesn't let up and it's wonderful to see someone who isn't young or male out there getting things done.

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Ex-CIA spy and assassin Helen Warwick has been forced into mandatory retirement from the CIA at the age of fifty five. She’s planning on leading a quiet life, learning to bake and forging closer bonds with her three children. Although her husband guessed that she was more than the government analyst that she claimed to be in the State Department, her children never knew otherwise and resented that she was away from home travelling overseas so often. Now she's hoping for a second shot at being a good parent. So on New Year’s Eve she's quietly babysitting her younger son’s and his boyfriend’s puppy, in their newly renovated house in DC, so they go out and enjoy the fireworks, when armed assassins burst in trying to kill her. Barely escaping, she knows she has to find out who wants her dead if she’s to have any chance of a peaceful retirement.

This is very entertaining tale of Russian hit men, an American mole in high places and a murdering psychopath who turns his kills into artwork. Helen might have been put out to pasture and isn’t at peak fitness any more, but she’s still smart and intuitive, an excellent markswoman and has decades of spy craft to rely on. Her ex-handler Yosef steps up to help her and together they make a good team. A terrific, action packed read with the promise of a sequel in the near future.

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Action packed, fast paced, featuring a retired CIA agent: it was an entertaining and gripping read and I loved Helen and appreciated the well plotted story.
The author is a good storyteller and delivers a story that kept me hooked and on the edge.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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I so enjoyed this story of a woman of a certain age who has recently retired (aged out) from the CIA. Believing that she was a foreign trade specialist, Helen Warwick has kept her actual career as a CIA assassin from her family. Now it seems that someone is trying to make her retirement permanent. Her son’s home is shot up while she is dog sitting and she is still able to take out three of the four intruders. They have dared to threaten her family…she is out for blood! Contacting her previous handler, he is then targeted. At the same time, a man is determined to outdo the DaVinci Killer by killing a family, videotaping the destruction and posting it on the dark web. This enrages the original killer and he soon seeks his revenge. Helen believes that there is something very wrong at the CIA and enlists her son’s lover, who works at the CIA, to help decipher a code. Will they be able to convince Helen to return to the CIA and ferret out the person who is known as Scorpius? I can’t wait for the next book in this series! I received an advance review copy at no cost and without obligation for an honest review. (paytonpuppy)

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Does anyone really retire from the CIA? Cindy Dees' new book, Second Shot, introduces us to Helen Warwick, a 55 year old recently retired from the CIA, not of her own accord. Helen is hoping to reconnect with her family who believed she was an analyst.

Helen agrees to baby sit for her son, Peter and his boyfriend/fiancé Liang’s new puppy. Four hit men attack, Helen uses her skills and takes out three of them, one escapes. The police arrive and Helen plays the hysterical scared lady who shot not knowing where the shots were going. Pure luck. The question, of course, is who is after Helen even though she is out of the CIA.

There is another plot line ongoing, two serial killers are killing and posing their victims to imitate scenes from famous art pieces. These killers are also smart enough to implicate innocent people for their crimes. Helen thinks these may be related to her past.

I liked Helen. She is not in the same shape she once was, but she still has her sniper skills and is protective of her family. The book moves along at a good pace. The ending left a few things unresolved and will hopefully be addressed in the next.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for an ARC. The review is my own.

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Second Shot by Cindy Dees
Helen Warwick series #1. Spy thriller, older female protagonist.
Helen recently retired from a government job. She expects to spend her days getting to know her adult children and grand-puppy but someone has other ideas. When a group of mercenaries invade her son’s home, Helen is forced to protect herself, kill three of the shooters and jump back into the espionage game. Someone clearly has it out for the retired government assassin.

Action packed and intricate twists in the assassin’s botched retirement. The question: who was really target that night? An interwoven secondary story includes a vicious serial killer.
DC is filled with government agencies and spies. Who can be trusted? Helen is 55 and not as agile as she used to be. At least that what hearing her say to herself as she dives into another covert situation. She still runs, chases, shoots and uncovers the enemy quite effectively.
Intriguing. She’s impressively protective of her extended family. The 1st in a series and several questions left unanswered.
I received a copy of this from NetGalley.

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The start of a new series, grab it now and don't be left behind. I have read Cindy Dees for years. I am thrilled that in Second Shot her main character, Helen Warwick is 55! Helen was an assassin for the US Government and is now retired, trying to develop a relationship with her children after fighting for her country during their formative years. Helen is at her sons house puppy sitting as windows shatter, men start shooting up the place and that's just the beginning. I was twisted in turmoil through the whole book. Family dynamics, spies, murder, serial killers, death , politics and more. Second shot had many layers of twisted roads. If nothing else Biscuit lets her know she wants to be a grandma and share love :) One of the lighter moments. There is also some enjoyable snark. Thank you for the arc! I freely volunteer my thoughts and opinions. #Secondshot #cindydees #Helenwarwick #Kensington #Netgalley

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What a fabulous start to a new series! Cincy Dees, a new-to-me author, has created an exciting action-packed and suspenseful thriller with a more mature main character. Helen Warwick is fifty-five and recently retired as a deadly sniper for the Central Intelligence Agency with many sanctioned executions. Her cover was as a foreign trade specialist for the State Department. After spending their childhood traveling overseas on assignments, Helen is hoping to reconnect and repair her relationship with her three children, Mitchell, Peter, and Jayne. She also wants to reconnect with her husband who is currently in the Amazon jungle.

Helen is dog-sitting for Peter and his boyfriend Liang when hired killers enter the house. Why is she being targeted and by whom? Did they follow her to Peter’s house? Besides an unknown foe, she is pulled into an investigation into four murders where those convicted claim they are innocent. Can Helen discover what is going on and stop the killing before she or one of her loved ones is killed?

Helen is mentally tough, an excellent sniper, and able to compartmentalize her emotions, but she hasn’t been working out lately. Her flaws make her more relatable. Mitchell and Peter have complex traits along with Yosef, Helen’s handler before she retired. Readers also get insights into several of the secondary and tertiary characters. How many of them will show up in future books? I look forward to their development from this point forward.

This book demanded my attention during its entirety. The twisty plot with plenty of angst, action, and suspense kept me engaged and rapidly turning the pages. There was a terrifying realism to some of the scenes that left me breathless. The story is gripping and grabs your attention in the first chapter and doesn’t let up until its astonishing conclusion. It features death, attempted murder, spies, politics, family relationships, friendship, and much more. Helen’s dynamics with Peter and Yosef were one of the more compelling aspects of the story. What a surprising ending! It’s a great set-up for the next book in the series.

Overall, this fantastic novel is shocking, emotionally-charged, and pulse-pounding. Be aware that there is plenty of danger, death, intrigue, and violence in this story. While this is the first book I have read by this author, I want to remedy that by reading some of her other novels. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series. It’s first chapter is shared at the end of this novel. Readers who enjoy action thrillers and espionage thrillers will likely enjoy this book.

Kensington Books and Cindy Dees provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via Net Galley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently set for May 23, 2023. This review was originally posted at Mystery and Suspense Magazine.

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Fifty-five-year-old Helen Warwick is a former CIA assassin, who is now happily retired. She is looking forward to reconnecting with her grown children after years of being unexplainably absent all the time, when a simple night minding her son’s new puppy turns into a bloodbath and a blown up house. It seems that she is being targeted, but why and by whom. After years of eliminating the nation’s enemies one sniper bullet at a time, Helen now finds herself being hunted as she tracks her way through her bloody past to find who might want her dead.

This a briskly paced thriller that grabs your attention from the opening pages and holds it all the way to the final bloody confrontation. Helen is an engaging character and her reflections on her life and her family are entertaining and often amusing. The book smoothly moves its way through several well choreographed scenes of violence and builds to a good conclusion and the promise of more books.

Second Shot is an engaging read, and it is very easy to settle back and be entertained by Cindy. A good, light novel that is ideal for a long flight or a lazy weekend.

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A retired assassin attempting a normal life with her adult children is suddenly called back to work. Helen is feisty, witty, smart and talented. I haven’t read a book that captured my interest like this in awhile. Between the serial killers, yes plural, the secret spy stuff and ducking the passive aggressive comments from her kids I’d say Helen is a bada$$. This is a series that has a ton of potential for a large audience with varying reading tastes. Enjoy the thrill, the excitement, and the mystery. I grabbed this from NetGalley and dove in excitedly, voluntarily leaving my review.

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Can you say mama bear?!? This is a great first book of a series about ex CIA contract killer, Helen Warwick, and what happens when she retires. You must read this engaging book and its characters. I'm excited for book two.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Helen Warwick is 55 and newly retired from a career as an assassin for the CIA. She's doing her best to mend her strained relationship with her adult children, but that's hard to do when it seems that someone in DC is intent on killing her off. Helen is a fantastic character, skilled and smart and yet dealing with an aging body. She is no Mrs. Pollifax - there's a reason her relationship with her children and husband are in rough shape, and she's not exactly the warm fuzzy type - but I adored her exploits and resourcefulness and I can't wait for more adventures from her as she tracks down the mysterious Scorpius. This book is a non-stop adrenaline ride and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for a digital review copy.

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