It’s a strange feeling to like an assassin and I wouldn’t have thought I would. After all, as a therapist, I’m more into the “let’s make people feel better” side of things. Yet there’s no question that in “Conflict Of Interest,” author Lauryn Christopher manages to portray Margaret Harrison, corporate consultant, in a such a way that I find it completely understandable that she hires out to kill people as a side gig. A girl needs to make some play money, after all. Have a little savings set aside. A nest egg, you might say.
Part of it, of course, is because Christopher gives us just enough childhood backstory to understand why Megan Harris (as she calls her assassin alter-ego) was able to make this particular career choice. A bigamist father. Abandonment issues. A hint of an abusive past boyfriend.
There’s more to it than that though. Megan Harris/Margaret Harrison is no cookie-cutter character. She doesn’t charge after big, bad guys in high heels or, thank goodness, expect Manly Good-Guy to save her bacon. While she is quite aware of the many professional assets she brings to the job of hunting (and killing) people, she’s cognizant of her weaknesses. For one thing, she isn’t good at tailing people and says so. She is good, however, at tracking finances, weaving seamlessly through cyber-space to learn potential victims’ habits, blending into the environment, and at keeping her careers and her private life separate. She has studied, trained, and keeps fit in order to do the best job for her clientelle.
In short, she takes pride in her work.
But sometimes her lives don’t stay separate. When Megan is hired by a client to kill his professional rival, it seems like an easy job. . . until Megan learns the client has committed a big no-no. He lied. To his assassin, which is apparently a breach of client-assassin protocol. (If she were a psychotherapist she might be less surprised. We get lied to all the time. No biggee.)
Even worse: the target? Megan’s half-sister.
To go any further would be to risk spoilers. Bottom line: “Conflict Of Interest” is well-written, intricately plotted, and full of surprises.