“I loved the cover” is not something any reviewer should say. However, I will have to break that rule since this is one case where the cover puts you in the picture right away. The very title, Killing It, describes the situation perfectly as a feminist fighter juggles a sexist work environment, the deadliest possible job, and the idyllic background of family life – all on sleep-deprived nights and a fear of not returning home to her baby.

Half assassin / half mother, Alexis (Lex) Tyler is back on the job as a covert agent for Her Majesty’s Secret Service after maternity leave. A real live baby protected by a bulletproof pram cover completes her disguise as she faces a mission that will involve Russians, an old fling for a side-kick, and the most unsuspecting husband in the world. Even as she relies on the soft toy rabbit gun in her nappy bag, Lex can’t but wonder, should a mother really risk her life?

Asia Mackay’s debut novel features a mix of what she knows how to do best – she is a mother of four – and an imagination that has her protagonist’s Tech Department rival James Bond’s best gadgets (no security officer is going to break a tampon apart to discover the earpiece inside).

There are tell-tale signs of an author still testing the waters, with long explanations about things almost irrelevant. There is also an epilogue that is actually a long-winded last part to the story rather than just the conclusion to the tale. Still, I loved it for its honesty (motherhood can sometimes seem more daunting than facing the enemy), the way it propels you to ask what comes next and its deliciously vague ending. I urge you not to read the interview at the back of the book as the author unfortunately clearly colours in that unknown.

This works as a light thriller and had me unsuspecting of its twists in plot, yet what should have been humour injected here and there sounded forced most of the time. A tough girl like Lex would never try on her baby’s hair clips nor let an admirer write a sassy song about her. Meanwhile, managing to hide her work life from her husband Will is more fantastical than the job itself. Truly, what killer would fall for a gullible guy like him?

Somewhere in between the plot and the comedy, the author managed to bring a point home. Regardless of setting, hours or even type of job, a mother will always face more agony in trying to make her work-life work than a father ever will. So as our heroine Alexis battles the enemy and society’s prejudices, she constantly battles herself as well. Can she ever be a good mum whilst also being good at her job?

Killing It was kindly provided by Agenda Book Shop.