Joe Hunter 5
Hodder & Stoughton
Brooke Reynolds died in a car crash. Tragic accident, the police say. But her father knows otherwise. And he wants Joe Hunter to find the men responsible.
Trouble is, they find Joe First. The ensuing blood bath is only the beginning of a trail of death that leads right to the heart of a racist conspiracy.
Joe is on countdown: can he stop the plotters before they reduce the free world to ashes?
I thought the last one was, but this is the best so far. The tightest, the tautest, the most thrillingest…so far.
Blood and Ashes is everything you want from a thriller, a Joe Hunter thriller at that, and (almost) nothing you don’t want. Not surprisingly, for a thriller series written by an Englishman, featuring an Englishman as hero, it’s probably the most American thriller in the series so far (for me, that is. There are more, the latest is number 20-or so, but I’m doing them in order and have reached here). There are touches of Bourne and Rapp, and thankfully, less Reacher.
A hell of a lot of the fluff that sometimes let the previous books down, has been vacuumed out and more importantly, the moaning old lady stuff from Hunter, is kept to an absolute minimum. Though saying tit that way, is perhaps wrong – it’s just used more effectively. From the start, there’s at least one blindingly interesting conundrum. Provoking in me, through him, a discussion about murder and ‘justified’ killing. On the face of it, the reader is going to think “Oh get on with it Hunter! You’re in no-name town in the middle of nowhere and they deserved to be killed!” Should he have killed them before knowing for certain what their intentions were? Yes, you, the reader knows what’s afoot, but Hunter doesn’t. He doesn’t have the insider info you, the reader, has. Put yourself in his position at that moment in time and the moral problem is entirely justified. Realising that only endeared Hunter to me even more and was, I felt, worth the admission on its own.
As the character of Hunter has developed and the series has progressed, Hunter has begun looking back. To how he got where he is in life, how he became who or what he is. There are many references to a place called ‘Arrowsake’ where he and Rink were trained. Interestingly, he seems to have previously thought Arrowsake made him a better person, now he’s wondering/not sure it didn’t make him worse. The Arrow-place taught him how to kill on demand, now he’s ‘free’ he’s questioning the validity. He’s like Jason Bourne might have been, if he’d escaped the CIA, but hadn’t had to go through the memory loss business. Hunter’s memories of the events has always been there, it’s only now he’s beginning to listen to them and see his past for what it was.
The problem he needs to get over, is thinking too much for other people, forgetting or ignoring, his best practice, safest way, training. “Normal practice would see Rink move on while I covered him, but before he could do so, I went up the remaining stairs and into the hallway. It was bad enough that Rink had followed me to his possible doom, let alone allowing him to go first.” The surest way to kill Rink? Abandon your training. Rink is there because he wants to be. He could have said no. He’s had the same training as Hunter. Hunter’s saying in effect, he is trying to protect Rink, yet Hunter is the one putting Rink in danger! And if Hunter, through blind stupidity, gets killed, what then are Rink’s chances? Better or worse? Sometimes he thinks too much. Sometimes he thinks too little. And he still wants to think for women. There’s still a little of the no killing the poor, defenceless, little women in pink frilly dresses, who don’t know what they’re doing because they’re women, nonsense left hung over from the last one. As it clearly makes him a liability to his comrades (as above), you’d have thought it’d either have been drilled out of him at this Arrowsake place, or Hunter would have been dumped out of the SAS or whatever it was that was training him there.
However, if you want a thriller series that thrills and is getting better with every book, look no further than Joe Hunter and Matt Hilton. An absolute hum-dinger.
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