Hilton, Matt - 'Blood and Ashes'
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Matt's books, this is fifth book in a series featuring Joe Hunter, ex-special forces operative, and now a freelance 'security' consultant, working in the USA. The premise behind this latest book is that a criminal, Carswell Hicks, is threatening the family of Don Griffiths, a man Don helped to catch some years earlier. He's asked Joe Hunter, an old colleague of his, who was involved in the original capture of Carswell. Joe is suffering with injuries from his last job, has a pronounced limp, which is quickly forgotten once the pace steps up, and has some undisclosed issues with Don that make him initially reluctant to help. But then, as is usual with this series of books, the action mounts up, with plenty of shoot-outs and a high body count, until the resolution is finally reached.
This story starts with the killing of Don's daughter, who is forced off the road and then burnt alive in her car. The police think it was an accident, but Don thinks otherwise, as he's received threatening e-mails. Joe's initial reluctance to help quickly changes after being pressured by two thugs (whom he quickly despatches), after visiting Don. Can it really be Carswell who is behind the threats and why has Carswell picked this moment to attack the Griffiths family, when he could just lie low as everyone believes he is dead? Does Don know something important about Carswell, something he's not telling, that will help to foil Carswell's bigger plan? Or is this just straight revenge?
The Joe Hunter books are beginning to mature, and in this one, Joe's past injury makes him a slightly more careful combatant. His sidekick Rink doesn't turn up till quite late in the book, giving a nice initial focus on Joe and how he is sucked back into action by necessity. Joe is still the likeable, but macho hero, who seems to have at least nine lives, judging by his adeptness at escaping from the most unlikely of scenarios. Carswell's bigger plan is somewhat unbelievable, but inevitable all the same. An enjoyable read for those into high body counts, and non-stop action.
Michelle Peckham, England