Book review: Killing It by Asia Mackay

Forget James Bond and meet this summer's most fearless, most resourceful and most entertaining superhero-spy'¦ Assassa-Mum!
Killing It by Asia MackayKilling It by Asia Mackay
Killing It by Asia Mackay

Alexis ‘Lex’ Tyler has a killer job (literally) with the British Secret Service but she’s also mother of an adorable six-month-old baby girl so her day job goes something like this… ‘plan a hit, stalk a target, pull the trigger and still make it home for bath time.’

In her hilarious, clever and refreshingly original debut, Asia Mackay shows us just what fun can be extracted from the creation of a breast-feeding but strong-willed woman who can successfully combine espionage with motherhood.

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A former television presenter and producer, and now mother of four young children, Mackay’s wickedly witty Killing It was gestated during her maternity leave and was runner up in Richard and Judy’s Search for a Bestseller competition last year.

Packed with ‘baby brain’ one-liners that every mother will recognise, and with an exciting, all-action plot that explores the dark and dangerous side of Russia’s fabulously wealthy oligarchs, this is a riotous romp with a real hint of menace… and an inspirational message.

Every working mum has had to face it… the guilt-fuelled, anxiety-filled first day back in the office after maternity leave. But Lex Tyler isn’t an ordinary mum; she’s a ‘Rat,’ an experienced assassin working inside a little-known branch of Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Even her long-suffering lawyer husband Will has no idea what her real job is or that since giving birth to their baby Gigi, Lex is keeping her gun hidden in a striped Cath Kidston nappy bag.

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Going back to work won’t be easy for Lex, and that’s not just because her male boss is worried that her ‘hormones’ could affect her powers of thought and deduction. Her first project is a high-stakes hit of global significance involving London-based Russian tycoon Dimitri Tupolev, a brutal operator who has plans to make the whole world his hostage.

Lex’s task is to covertly eliminate him with the help of his wife Dasha, who is working with British Intelligence, and to make contact with Dasha by using Gigi as her cover.

It’s a dangerous mission and Lex will be closely watched by the old boys of government espionage who are far from ready for the return of an operational mother. But woe betide anyone who ever tells Lex ‘you can’t’… and any enemies who think that becoming a mother has made her weaker.

As fast with her mother-of-the-baby quips as she is with a loaded .38 pistol, Lex Tyler is a brilliant new feminist hero, crying over a bottle of spilt expressed milk, but as tough as nails when faced with enemies as deadly as a black mamba snake.

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Mackay’s twist on the traditional male spy genre – starring an agent who uses her equivalent of Bond’s Q to rig up surveillance gadgets for ‘hands-free parenting’ – is entertainment at its most imaginative and enjoyable.

With put-downs aplenty, breathtaking action sequences, and fascinating emotional insights into every working mother’s innermost guilt complex, this is a hit-woman thriller that certainly hits the spot!

(Zaffre, paperback, £7.99)