Hilton, Matt - 'Cut and Run'
In this fourth book featuring self-styled vigilante Joe Hunter, it looks as though someone has a personal grievance against Joe, impersonating him, and then committing crimes that Joe is then blamed for. The action starts with the killing of a girl, Jessica in front of her dad, who was then beaten very badly but left alive to tell the police that 'Joe Hunter' was behind it. Two policemen then pick Joe up but they are then swiftly despatched by an unknown assailant with a high velocity rifle, leaving Joe running from the cops. Joe gets in touch with his friend and partner Rink to try to find out what's happening, only to discover that a name from the past is trying to get hold of him: Bryce Lang, from the CIA. Bryce was involved in a take-down with Joe in Columbia, when he was in the military, with the aim of killing a drug criminal, Abadia. But just as Joe is about to shoot him, Abadia's wife and child get in the way. Although Joe decides not to shoot, as he never hurts women and children, another agent, less worried about the consequences, shoots all of them. A take-down gone bad.
The bad guy impersonating Joe is Luke Rickard, and he is taking orders from someone who wants to cause trouble for Joe. Next, Rickard goes to Maine, where he captures Imogen, the sister of Kate, a girl whom Joe was involved with in an earlier book. Joe calls Imogen but finds himself talking to Rickard instead, who tells Joe he wants to make him suffer. Joe immediately heads off to Maine to try to find her. Luckily she manages to escape. But when Joe goes to the hospital to see her, he runs into his old handler, Walter Hayes Conrad IV, who tells him he wants him to go to work for him again as a fully trained 'asset'. Somehow, Walter is aware of what is going on, and wants Joe to sort things out.
Rickard is especially bad, as he is a woman hater. He assaults his wife Alisha, and doesn't mind brutalising and killing women in general. When he returns home to Miami after his failed kidnap attempt, he is violent once more to Alisha, but is then surprised by three men who try to shoot him. He shoots them dead instead but starts to suspect that they may have been assassins hired by his wife. He has to leave his apartment, as he knows the police will be coming, so he takes his wife out to a restaurant, and asks her if she knew who the men were. It quickly becomes apparent that, despite her denials, she is behind the attempted killing. Fearing her life is in danger, Alisha goes to the bathroom, and then escapes out of the window. Rickard goes to find her and casually shoots an old guy who gets in the way. Joe finds out about the killing of his assassins, the killing of the old guy, and the possible disappearance of Rickard's wife. He decides to get to Alisha first, and protect her. Meanwhile Rickard finds where Alisha is hiding first, and goes in to find her, killing anyone in his way. Reports reach Joe and Rink, and they race off to try and save her. Rickard then has no choice but to go back to Colombia back to his boss, to escape. This means Joe has to go to Colombia to find him, to find out who is controlling Rickard, and to discover if there are links to the failed hit in Colombia all those years ago.
Rickard is a nasty, but worthy adversary to Joe, and there is the usual run of shoot-outs, bombings etc. There's plenty of action, and some lucky escapes for Joe, with a tense ending as the hero and bad guy finally have their 'one on one'. I found this book a slightly less satisfying book than earlier ones, and a bit more predictable. Not so much in the way of 'detection' and more just straight action and violence. Matt Hilton has been compared to Lee Child, and the Jack Reacher novels, but I think Hilton needs to lose a bit of the violence, and work a bit harder on developing the plot to really allow his novels to take off.
Michelle Peckham, England