Review: Rules of Honour – Matt Hilton

4 1/2 of 5 stars

Series: Joe Hunter 8

My version: Hardback
Fiction Thriller
Michael Joseph

When Rink’s father is brutally murdered, Joe has to stop his friend rushing headlong for vengeance. Because Rink’s mother witnessed the crime and Yukiko isn’t telling everything she knows.

Her silence is governed by the Japanese tradition of giri, or moral obligation. But when there are more vicious deaths – all of them elderly men known to Yukiko – it becomes a matter of honour to uncover the shameful secret that lies behind the murders.

The killer isn’t playing by the rules. But some rules are made to be broken and Joe doesn’t care what he breaks to ensure Rink gets his revenge.


Matt Hilton just gets better and better.

If you’re just joining now, I’m reading the Joe Hunter series in sequence (and trying my best to get them all in hardback). There are currently, or soon will be, 12, and this is how far I’ve read so far.

Rules of Honour nicely pitches the rules of the Japanese honour code of giri, against Joe Hunter’s more English rules of honour (and in-built decency) that demand blood debts be paid in blood – and in full. That is when he lets himself off the leash and as in the intro blurb up top, he ‘has to stop his friend rushing headlong for vengeance’ but then ‘Joe doesn’t care what he breaks to ensure Rink gets his revenge.’ Well, clearly he does. Or doesn’t. Which is it to be? That’s the only thing that stops this from getting a  full five. That failure to deliver on a single-minded purpose for the character. That and calling the baddie by his first name. Softened him. Suppose it was a good job his name wasn’t ‘Nigel,’ though, eh?

But aside from that…it’s stripped-down Hunter, it’s more direct, it’s more purposeful and builds of the heights of expectation I had from the previous outing. The involvement of the ‘prisoner of war’ camps the USA put a lot of its Japanese citizens in, was known to me, I think I read a book years ago, based on that internment, but even three years ahead of the shaved baboon’s regime, it’s a timely reminder of the idiocy in charge of the USA psyche right now. That’s in part Joe Hunter’s job here – and previously too – to bring a common sense to the Americans’ excesses. If Rink was thinking properly at the start, he’d have known that shooting the perp early on wouldn’t be the right thing, no matter how, and maybe because of how, irritating it was at the time of reading. But irritation can only come when you care about something, right or wrong? So if I’m caring about the book and the characters, that’s Matt done his job? I think so.

SPEESH READS FACT DEPT says: Giri (義理) is a Japanese value roughly corresponding to “duty”, “obligation”, or even “burden of obligation” in English. It is defined as “to serve one’s superiors with a self-sacrificing devotion” by Namiko Abe.

It’s fair enough that Hodder & Stoughton decided to market the series as ‘like Jack Reacher,’ that’s a no-brainer. Others, here in Europe, have done it as well. And maybe a little more blatantly. I think the problem with the comparison is that Matt Hilton has decided to write the stories from Joe Hunter’s point of view. In the ‘first person,’ is it? All bar two (?) of the Reacher books, are in the third person. So, Reacher can continually “say nothing” and appear all enigmatic and decisive, rather than saying nothing and us reading all the machinations of his weighing the pros and cons and appearing like a little old lady. It allows us to be Reacher in any given situation, Reacher is clearly thinking what we hope we would. “Kill the fucker!” for example. Pick the bones out of it later. Mainly Lee Child has established the motives, the right intentions of the character earlier, and doesn’t need to keep repeating it for latecomers. We know the motives, we know he will do what is right for the situation, we don’t need it wrapping with a pink ribbon each time.

What Matt Hilton is doing right I guess, is writing the character his own way, playing by his rules for Hunter. Maybe it’s me who needs to forget Reacher while reading. So no more stickers on my books, please.

You can buy Rules of Honour at

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