It starts slowly: Freya’s online-shopping for boots when her youngest child comes up to her with a quarter and says, “Mommy, I’m pretending this is gum.” And, in the way of mothers who are slightly distracted, she doesn’t realize the full implications of that statement until a few minutes later, when she sees him clutching his throat, choking to death while his lips turn blue.
Spoiler: he doesn’t die. Not that Freya’s any help: she stands there, frozen, watching him suffocate – but, luckily, one of his brothers saves him.
Naturally, Freya remains shaken, knowing she was useless and that, had she been alone, her child would have died. Less naturally, her answer to that powerlessness is to decide she wants to be an FBI agent.
Let’s get this clear: Just Kill Me is not perfect. The pacing is slow in the beginning, and sometimes it feels like there’s a bit of a stutter in the style. The first switch between narrators (there are two) was unexpected and since both are “I”, it was confusing for a second. But, all this aside, I loved it! It’s the sort of page-turner you’d devour in a day… if you have a day to spare. Which I lately really, really don’t, so it took me longer than that since I was only reading it on the bus and in the five minutes before I fell asleep at night. But I’m just saying, if I’d had a day, I’d have gladly read it on that day.
What’s really fun about it is that there’s always a twist. Sometimes it’s a twist you’re totally expecting (is anybody shocked that, in a story about FBI agents, even people not previously known as FBI agents turn out to be involved with the FBI?). Sometimes it’s a twist you don’t see coming. But there’s always something going on, always a hook to keep you reading more. If at first I thought that it was a bit cliched, it soon became almost a parody of FBI cliches: here’s an agent! Here’s another agent! Here’s a secret group! Here’s something the government did which is very morally questionable! Here’s a friendly figure who’s out of the agent loop! Here’s a friendly figure who’s not a friendly figure! Here’s somebody who looked evil, but wasn’t! Here’s a stereotypical, yet entirely unrealistic computer genius! Here’s a long-lost relative who’s getting involved! Here’s Karate Kids! Here’s a steamy FBI love-making scene! Would you like an almond chai with all that?
A recommended read for anyone who’s a fan of surprising plots, FBI agents, feeling a constant “now what, now what?”, going on a long trip (as I’ve said, it’s easy to get lost in it – time flies when you’re reading something cool) and, possibly, secret agent loooove.
By the way, I don’t mean to brag too much, but I’ll be posting an interview with the author soon.