matt hilton

Review: Marked for Death by Matt Hilton

5 stars

Previously reviewed titles in this series:
The Devil’s Anvil (Joe Hunter #10) 4.5 stars
No Safe Place (Joe Hunter #11) 4 stars

I’ve followed Matt Hilton’s Joe Hunter series for a long time, from before I started blogging. Marked for Death is the 12th instalment in this long running series and each book that is released, I worry that Hilton will lose the magic that I find so enthralling. It only took me ten minutes of Marked for Death to know it is a firm five star read, and maybe even a contender for my favourite books of all-time list.

Hunter’s impulsiveness is one of the things that I really enjoy about this series. So many other protagonists are portrayed as deep thinkers who analyse everything that is happening, whereas Hunter reacts in the moment and often doesn’t think through possible consequences. Sometimes he’s the last person in the team to work out what’s going on, and I love that. It’s a different character trait from the Spider Shepherd, Jack Reacher and Joe Pickett novels that I enjoy of the same genre.

So when Hunter’s impulsiveness leads him to step in to protect a glamorous party attendee from her abusive husband, he gets himself caught up in more than a toxic relationship. The plot of this novel travels at breakneck speed from one physical altercation to the next, with Hunter leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. Every Matt Hilton book I read reminds me that there is no one else who writes fight and battle scenes quite like this – they are full of detail and suspense, but do not drag on and on. When you are reading the final confrontation, it feels like you are there with them, in the thick of it.

I’ve talked a lot about Hunter, but I need to talk about his brothers in arms – especially Rink. The relationship between Rink and Joe is one of the best aspects of this series, and it is nicely included in this book. The banter between these two characters cracks me up but underneath it all you can see that they are family to one another. I love families of choice in fiction, especially when characters don’t have positive familial ties.

The character of Trey looks weak when compared to the established characters of Joe and Rink, but she’s still an interesting addition to the crew for the duration of this novel. Her backstory is heartbreaking, and you really do come around to her by the end of the novel. She’s a good catalyst character, much stronger than some of the others that are included in novels of the thriller genre.

One of the ways that Matt Hilton has kept the Joe Hunter books current is by setting novels in the here and now. Marked for Death takes place in Trump’s America and the plot is something that you could imagine happening. It’s jarring to have Trump’s name dropped – multiple times – in this novel. I won’t go into politics on this blog, but I saw it as a risky thing for Hilton to include in this novel, but he handles the political minefield well. He’s unlikely to anger anyone with the inclusion of President Trump, while not actually pushing his political agenda. I wonder how this book will read in the future, when Trump is no longer President. I suppose that will depend on how this period of history is recorded. This was my first novel that has referenced Trump, but I assume that a lot of the books published later this year will do so, and I will be keeping an eye on how authors use this period of history in fiction.

I would recommend this novel to any fans of action packed thrillers. It is my favourite new release of 2017 so far. Matt Hilton’s writing is accessible, his characters dynamic and his plots first rate. Although you can read Marked for Death independently from the rest of the Joe Hunter series, I really do recommend going back and starting from the first book in the series, Dead Men’s Dust.

Thanks to Canelo Press for the e-ARC of this book

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Review: Painted Skins by Matt Hilton

Painted Skins by Matt Hilton, (Tess Grey & Po Villere, #2), eARC from netgalley, Severn House Publishers, December 2016, 256p.

4 out of 5 stars.

Painted Skins is the latest book in the Tess Grey & Po Villere series, and although I haven’t read Blood Tracks, which is the first title, I was still enthralled in the lives of these characters. In Tess Grey, Hilton has managed to build a believable, real and strong female protagonist who carries the action of this series easily. Often female leads in crime thrillers are either infallible action stars who single-handedly take on gangs of bad guys and come out without a scratch, or they are purely the brains behind the operation and then rely on the men around her to deal with the sharp end of the action. Tess and Hilton fall into neither of these traps, and that’s refreshing.

The characters in Painted Skins are great, I really enjoyed both Tess and Po – they come from such different backgrounds and work together in a wonderful way. I loved that although they are romantically involved, there’s no subplot about their relationship – that often gets tedious and stops the momentum in thrillers – but you learn about their relationship while they are navigating the case and trying to save a young woman from a kidnapper.

I will try not to give anything away, but Painted Skins reminded me a lot of Matt Hilton’s early Joe Hunter novels, it is two friends hunting down a deranged individual and stopping at nothing to deliver justice. The bad guys that fill both the Hunter and Grey & Villere series are some of the darkest, bone-chilling monsters I’ve ever encountered in literature. I’m not very squeamish, and I read many thrillers a year, but Hilton’s bad guys always stick with me for years to come, and I have a feeling that this book’s villain will be the same.

Hilton’s writing is great – to the point and polished. Painted Skins is a tightly constructed and well-executed crime thriller. Whenever I am asked for advice on what constitutes a good fight scene I just point to the closest Matt Hilton book.

I will certainly be hunting out the first book in the Grey & Villere series, I can’t wait to return to this universe!

Thank you to Severn House Publishers for providing a review copy of this book.

Review: No Safe Place by Matt Hilton

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No Safe Place by Matt Hilton (Joe Hunter, #11), Kindle edition, Sempre Vigile, May 2016. 270p.

4 out of 5 stars.

I reviewed previously:

The Devil’s Anvil (Joe Hunter, #10). 4.5 stars.

Old Fighters often seek that one final battle, where they can prove they aren’t over the hill, that they’re still a contender for the crown.  – No Safe Place by Matt Hilton

The Joe Hunter series is a contender for the title of most thrilling series. Each book consistently delivers more excitement, better plot and sympathetic characters. There is no doubt that Hunter would be the person I’d call if shit was hitting the fan. After so many books in the series, however, sometimes protagonists forget they should grow up. Matt Hilton has handled that brilliantly in No Safe Place – Hunter is starting to feel his age. He’s packing his backpack full of bricks to prove to himself he’s still hard.

The plot of No Safe Place is suitably twisted, with one red herring after another making it hard to decide if I knew what was coming next or not. A woman is killed in a home invasion/robbery, and Joe Hunter is hired to protect her son from further attacks. What follows is a race to find her killer, but not all is as it seems.

Hilton’s antagonists are becoming more complex with each book, and the big bad in this book certainly paid off in being understandable but terrifying. I loved the inclusion of a shaggy dog story from Hilton’s own policing career. It’s these little touches of humour and warmth that raises Hilton’s writing above many other thriller series.

Joe and Rink feel like family to me now, after reading of their adventures in the last 10 books. No Safe Place allows them the usual back and forth – the playful banter that I always mention when reviewing Joe Hunter novels is alive and well in this story. I loved that Bryony is back and making Hunter’s life more complicated in the best ways. The subtle romance that is woven through the story is slight, but doesn’t detract from the main story. Which is just how I like my romance in thriller novels.

The reason this doesn’t rate 5 stars is that it felt a little more sparse than usual. The plot wasn’t as fleshed out as usual in a Matt Hilton thriller, and it was too short. There was no subplot, and I am attached to having a subplot in these style novels.

If you are a fan of the Joe Hunter series, definitely check out this book. If you like Reacher style novels, try out a Joe Hunter thriller – they’re better.

The Wacky Bookish Blog Tag

I’ve just stolen this book tag from littlebookblog, because I thought it was interesting.

WEIRD: THE WEIRDEST THING YOU HAVE READ

It would have to be Mrs. Beetons Book of Household Management by Isabella Beeton. In my family, everyone is gifted a copy of Mrs. Beetons Book of Household management when they move out of the family home. It includes information on how to cook 1800’s food, what is the appropriate time (and attire) for visiting neighbors. It backfired, because it made me just want to get servants (because it detailed how to manage your help.)

AMAZING: THE MOST AMAZING BOOK THAT YOU CAN’T FIND ANY OTHER WAY TO DESCRIBE

Perfume, by Patrick Suskind – It is one of my favourite books of all time, but when asked why I love it so much I usually get lost. Answering… “it’s about a guy with a great sense of smell who can smell insane things and then goes on a murdering rampage” usually doesn’t entice people to read this book!

CRAZY: A KIND OF INSANE CHARACTER

Well, I would have used Perfume as this answer, but considering my last answer I will have to go with John Stratton by Duncan Falconer. He is an SBS operative who is the most antisocial and introverted character. That’s all fine, but he seems to really enjoy killing people. The worst thing about Stratton is I kinda like him and would want to be friends with him. He needs to talk to a psychologist, ASAP.

KICK BUTT – YOUR FAVOURITE STRONG SIDE CHARACTER

Rink from the Joe Hunter series. AH RINK! My love for Rink is well documented, and I always get excited when he and Joe engage in their strange foreplay/debate/banter.

YING-YANG – TWO BOOKS THAT ARE DIFFERENT, BUT CONNECTED SOMEHOW

I am going to go with The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones. They are related because I analysed them both for a literature course, as I had to read them both for the same topic. The Gaiman book is one of my all time favourites, and I hated Dreams of Speaking more than I had ever hated a book before. Having to compare and contrast them for a paper was nigh impossible.

BOOKS – THE NUMBER OF BOOKS YOU HAVE READ SO FAR THIS YEAR

So far it’s 51 – I’m excited because I set my goodreads goal as 52 this year and I am about to hit it!

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT – YOUR OTP

This is a hard one – almost no books I read and love have strong pairings, but I will go with Quinn Colson and Lillie Virgil from the Quinn Colson series. He is in love with someone else (who is completely wrong for him!) and everyone thinks she is a lesbian (and maybe she is) but I think she likes the ex-sheriff a little too much and I silently ship them together.

ORIGINAL – THE MOST ORIGINAL BOOK BLOGGER OR BOOKTUBER YOU READ/WATCH

Hmmmm that is really hard. I’m not going to pick one, but there are a few I follow who are quite different.

GIDDY – A BOOK THAT MAKES YOU EXTREMELY HAPPY

As soon as the new Spider Shepherd book from Stephen Leather comes out my happiness levels skyrocket. It’s an addiction.

TICK-TOCK – A BOOK YOU READ EXTREMELY QUICK

Breaking Creed by Alex Kava, I sat down and started to read and finished that 400p book in a day.

ABRACADABRA – YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK THAT

HAS MAGIC

This is a hard one, because I don’t read many books with magic in them, but the only series that I actually follow that would suit this is the Jack Nightingale series by Stephen Leather. It’s a detective story meets the occult.

GECKO – THE MOST RANDOM BLOGGER/YOUTUBER YOU READ/WATCH

I’m not going to answer this one either – there are a few bloggers who I follow who are a little ‘random’, mostly people who post about their own lives and other features not book related. I think it’s a good thing, and something I always try to start doing, but never actually get around to.

Who Do You Tag?

Phew. Some of those where harder than I thought – but fun. I’m not going to tag anyone, but if you liked this tag, feel free to do it yourself and share your answers with me!

Review: The Devil’s Anvil by Matt Hilton

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The Devil’s Anvil by Matt Hilton, Hardback, June 2015, 317p.

4.5 stars.

The Joe Hunter series keeps getting better and better! The Devil’s Anvil is my favourite book featuring Mr. Hunter, I love the direction that this series has taken. To begin with, the books were fairly black and white, with Joe taking down a supreme evil (usually a really messed up serial killer), but the books have become more grey, with the baddies not quite so cut and dry, and packed with more suspense and action.

That’s not to say that the bad guy in this book didn’t chill my blood, because they certainly did. I’ll try not to give anything away, but my favourite killer of any Joe Hunter book so far features in this book. Also, the involvement of the ATF was a bit different and I liked the way that Hilton handled that influence.

Books like The Devil’s Anvil are exactly what I need when I’m tackling heavy textbooks for school – I usually read them in a day or two, they are full of excitement, they immerse me fully in another world, and aren’t tough going (just full of tough guys). I reserve the Tolstoy’s and Dickens to my uni holidays, and indulge in good thrillers during semester.

Rink is exceptional in the sidekick stakes, I just love the guy- frankly I would read a book that consisted of only Rink and Joe’s banter, it doesn’t seem contrived and reminds me of conversations I have with my friends – insulting on the surface, but underneath there is a sense of loyalty. I would have liked more Rink time in The Devil’s Anvil, but I’m sure I say that after each Joe Hunter book.

I’ve now got the long wait for next year’s installment, which certainly won’t come soon enough! (I’ll secretly be wishing that it’s set in England, Rink in England… be still my racing heart!)

Weekly Review Spree 8/3/15

18660669Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead – 2 stars

I started off really enjoying Vampire Academy, and was really intrigued by the premise. However I started to feel like the novel was juvenile with emotional hooks that completely missed their intended target. I went from tolerating Rose (and possibly identifying with her) to finding her horrible, manipulative and petty. I don’t like the way teenagers are portrayed in this novel, they get no respect. If there was more character development and Rose went from being horrible, manipulative and petty to being less of the aforementioned traits I could have enjoyed it, but by the end of the book the only change was that I added selfish to the list. The characters seemed to think they were great people, and were always the victim, and while that mentality can be interesting to read about, Mead seemed completely oblivious to the way her characters come across. I feel like character progression will happen in future novels, but I’m not willing to read them to find out. I’m starting to realise that most of the YA I enjoy is of the bildungsroman variety and not just a way for teenagers to get their M rated sex scenes with the stereotypical ‘tall, dark and handsome.’

16059717Close to the Bone – Stuart MacBride – 4 stars (also could win an award for favourite cover – look at the spooky pretty!)

Close to the Bone would have to be my favourite Logan McCrae novel I have read to date, mainly because it is more about the personal lives of the police officers than previous instalments. For the first time I hated Logan in this book, but I then felt so sorry for him a little later, so manipulative of my delicate emotions, Mr MacBride! The crime was interesting, and they discussed slash fanfiction, which made me chuckle and reminded me of my youth when I was obsessed with X-files fanfiction. I did miss Logan’s reporter friend and I felt like the situation with a certain someone was left unresolved, but hopefully that will be reconciled in the next novel? Also, I cried like a baby at the conclusion of this novel,  not something I do with every crime novel I read.

16183104Partners in Crime (two short stories) – Stuart MacBride- 3 stars

As I have been reading the Logan McRae series I was excited to find this collection of two short stories available for kindle. I didn’t like either of these stories as much as I enjoyed the previous short story I read, The 45% Hangover, but they were interesting and funny. If you have half an hour spare, and are already a fan of the series, then they are worth your time, but they wouldn’t make a good introduction into this world.

 

19065866Red Stripes (short story)- Matt Hilton – 3 stars

Yet another short story, this one was a Joe Hunter yarn. It wasn’t thick with plot or characters but it was packed with action. Oh! So much action! I really do enjoy Joe Hunter stories and was very relieved when Mr Hilton announced on his blog that the next Joe Hunter novel will be out mid this year, now I just have to wait, and while I am waiting, I will read his collection of other Hunter short stories.

Other Bookish Stuff

I didn’t make it to Geoffrey McGeachin’s event that happened during Adelaide Writer’s Week, which makes me a little sad – but I wasn’t feeling well enough to go, and I’m trying hard to not push myself physically.

Exciting news for this week is that C.J. Box’s new novel, Endangered, is out on the 10th, I’ve preordered it on kindle (thanks for kindle vouchers, lovely family), and can’t wait to read it!

I’m currently reading Fire Force, which is book 2 in the ‘Death Force’ series, and am loving it so far. The only problem is it seems to be a completed series with only 3 or 4 books, and I know I’m going to want more.