Chelsea Cain introduces tough girl Kick Lannigan in One Kick

one kick

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

—Bruce Lee, epigraph from Chelsea Cain’s One Kick

It’s about time for Kick Lannigan. In Chelsea Cain’s new series One Kick, Lannigan turns the woman-in-peril concept on its dainty head. Who better to fight crime, Cain asks, than a victim? After all, victims of crime know their perpetrators more intimately than the police ever will.

Koethi Zan explored this territory in The Never List, where traumatized young women held in a basement for years reunite to investigate the case. Where The Never List was nightmarish in places, One Kick only dabbles into Kick’s dark memories without dwelling there. A child pornographer kidnapped Kick (then Kathleen) as a wee child. Abuser Mel and his pseudo-wife carried little Kathleen from hide-out to hide-out amongst a network of kiddie pornographers, referred to as the family. Yikes!

Mel started Kick’s intensive training in weapons and defense, as he knew the possibility of a raid was always upon them. Once freed from Mel’s creepy grasp by that inevitable Fed raid, Kathleen-turned-Kick continued her training, choosing to empower herself with knowledge and physical ability most of us might consider obsessive. But hey, she’d been through some brutal stuff. Martial arts training, lock picking, time at the gun range–she channeled all this self defense into her own sort of therapy, becoming the strongest Kick she could be.

By the time we meet Kick Lannigan, she’s a smart, guarded, and sometimes bizarre woman who can take care of herself in any situation and doesn’t care what other people think. She makes herself laugh, intensely, loudly, “HA!” in uncomfortable situations to lower her cortisol levels. She squats like an idiot in the park, for martial arts training. She wears her hood up. She’s got personality, and she’s someone most girls would want to be friends with. I want to be friends with her.

So when another kid goes missing, and a secretive rich business man has interests in the case, Kick finds herself recruited into the pedophile-busting business. She works with the suave, world-weary Bishop, who is the perfect match to her own unusual combination of regular world naivety and dark world over-exposure.

Because Chelsea Cain wrote One Kick, you can bet on some serious emotional turmoil mixed in with the action. Her hit Gretchen Lowell series features a cop, Archie, enmeshed with the serial killer that tortured him, and that same vibe is strong here. As this is the first book in a series, I doubt this theme of caring for your captor is likely to go away anytime soon.

Any girl out there seeking her own realistic superhero for this modern world need look no further, Kick Lannigan is here and she’s taking the power back!

One Kick on*/Powell’

*As I’m writing this, the Kindle edition is only $4.99. It’s a deal, y’all.


I requested this one from NetGalley and never heard back. I also had to miss Chelsea’s book signing here in Houston. Gah! Was it not meant to be?!

Anyway, I am so looking forward to this book. I love when an author does something different, and it sounds like Chelsea did when she created Kick.

Great review!



    You know, I also requested this one from NetGalley and never heard back! Huh. I really wanted it and ended up buying it. But I’m glad I did.

    I think I’m sort of late to the Chelsea Cain fan club, but I’m totally onboard now!


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[…] the age of Dexter, books with a bad seed turned to justice are all the rage: Chelsea Cain’s One Kick is my favorite thus far. If you love the vigilante justice of Dexter and the heady analysis of […]

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