Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers, including the Harry Tate series, the Lucas Rocco series and the Marc Portman series. His latest books are ‘The Locker’ (Midnight Ink - Feb 2016) the first in a new thriller series, and ‘Hard Cover’ (Severn House - March 2016), the third of his Marc Portman novels.
The first thing to strike a reader about debut author Tom Wood’s ‘The Hunter’ is the size of the book. It’s a hefty 140,000 words and not one you’ll get through in one sitting unless you’re on a quiet beach somewhere with no interruptions.
The second thing to say is that if you are on said beach, you won’t want any interruptions, because if you get any, your friends and family will find out what reader-rage is.
The central character is Victor, background undetermined, origins concealed, skills lethal. For Victor is the modern equivalent of a ninja - part warrior, part assassin. Hired to acquire a piece of technology from a contact in Paris, and then kill him, everything falls apart soon afterwards when a number of gunmen try to kill Victor in turn. It occurs to him that he has been set up; but by whom? Victor’s world is a violent one and full of natural distrust, but only one or two people know of his activities, and that means the same one of two must be responsible, among them the broker who got him this current deadly assignment.
And so begins a non-stop chase across Europe, gathering in members of the CIA, the Russian SVR, the French police and intelligence services and a host of individuals in between with loyalties so divided they don’t always know who they are working for. Oh, and the British, too. In fact, Victor’s second biggest problem is Reed, a British-employed assassin operating on his own time for a group of shadowy Americans, and a man who just might be even more deadly than Victor himself. Reed’s orders? To kill Victor.
But that’s Victor’s second biggest problem. The first and most serious for this lone killer, with identities spread across half the world and documents in various hidey-holes, is that he trusts no-one; he allows himself to get close to nobody; he treats everyone he meets as a potential threat; he prefers to live on the margins of what most people would call any kind of social interaction. But when he meets his broker, in the form of Rebecca Sumner, although he comes close to killing her more than once, he finds himself not exactly attracted to her – that would be too obvious – but somehow becomes reliant on her presence. And for Victor that is a major step change in his life and his world.
But even in Victor’s world, nobody can stay out of sight, off the grid, beneath the radar, for long. There are too many links, too many times when he has to take chances which, inevitably, lead others to get too close.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s accomplished, it’s big, it’s packed with action, it’s fast and furious – no, it’s downright bloody livid - with fights, chases and weaponry (even some I’ve never seen in fiction before, such as the FN Five-seveN semi-automatic – the capital is N not a typo). And although the cover blurb describes it as ‘Jack Reacher meets Thomas Crown’, I found it far more like a Bourne film in speed, ferocity and pace of action.
This is a must for all thriller fans and I hope Tom Wood is hard at work on the next one.