By A Thread by Jennifer Estep
The aftermath begins with a nice quiet getaway where no one’s trying to assassinate the assassin. At least, that was the idea.
Retirement shouldn’t be so much work, especially after you kill the reining kingpin of the local criminal underworld. But infamy has it’s irony, since doing the deed has made the autruistic assassin Ashville’s biggest attraction. Miscreants and minions alike are all vying for position in the villainous vortex that Mab Monroe’s death created. And all the lowlife sociopathic scumbags seem to think playing squash the Spider will win them the coveted criminal crown.
It seems like there’s no better time for a vacation. Hey, even assassin’s need a little R&R. Gin’s not only physically battle wary but emotionally too. Things aren’t going so well with baby sis Bria. Blanco’s hoping a little time together will help quell some of the sisterly animosity that’s been building. But Bria isn’t making it easy. She wants to take the opportunity to reconnect with her best friend Callie, who is eerily similar to Gin, from her hair, eyes, occupation, and taste in men. Gin puts her jealousy aside though when she learns that Callie is being bullied into selling her restaurant and land to the local real estate developer. Unfortunately he’s an old vampire with a taste for strong powerful women and the sanguine savant has his sights set on Gin.
I couldn’t put this book down. By A Thread had a great pace, lots of action and twists none of the long recaps. It was an unexpected move to transplant these much loved characters to a different locale, but it paid off by adding some new challenges for the characters and making everything feel fresh and new without straying from the series’ bones. The story lines were great, Fin stole the show whenever he was around. I loved the backstory about Fletcher and his little tips that kept coming to Gin’s mind. This book was tough for Estep’s heroine in a different way. I imagine work would be welcomed if vacations are typically this brutal physically, mentally, and emotionally.
By A Thread is probably the best Elemental Assassin installment yet. Normally you’re lucky to get a chapter or two to close out a series, Estep is giving us two books. I love her sense of timing, she doesn’t end a book where I expect her to, instead closing out the main series thread in the last book and using By A Thread to take care of a few lingering plot points. Estep switches up her writing style a little bit in this one, abandoning her usual long recaps and instead sprinkled short asides throughout the book at appropriate moments for brief reminders. I didn’t mind the recaps before but the change made a huge difference in the flow of the book. She also addresses many of the various relationship issues while getting her main character to refocus and regroup.
Only exhaustion could keep me from continuing By A Thread. I literally devoured pages like they were specials at the Pork Pit. And with Estep hitting such an amazing stride, I’m hoping this series gets a much needed extension after Widow’s Web.