Review: No Going Back – Matt Hilton

5 of 5 stars

Series: Joe Hunter 7

My version: Hardback
Fiction Thriller
Hodder & Stoughton
2012
Bought

It started so well.

Two young women on a road trip to California. But nothing has been heard from Jay and Nicole for three days – their last contact a phone call to Jay’s father from New Mexico. The cops aren’t worried: three days are hardly an eternity. But Jameson Walker is not taking any chances and hires Joe Hunter to find his little girl.

The Arizona desert is badlands country and the friends have fallen foul of a sadistic bunch of men who are as brutal as their surroundings. But Joe is on their trail and he’ll do anything to free the women. Even if it means dying, there’ll be no going back.

This one has everything. It’s by far the best Joe Hunter so far (I’m reading them in order, this is where I am as of now). A rock solid plot, plenty of suspense and tension. Heart-stopping moments, time to gather your shredded nerves. And then, when you think it’s all done… more.

And I hope Matt takes notice, that ‘The bastard’ here, is very convincing. Very much a total bastard. Really worth expanding on in future volumes. Much more so than, dare I say it, The Harvestman.

The Englishman abroad works as well. It isn’t trumpeted, made obvious (I’m sure most Yanks in the middle of USA would struggle with a Manc accent), it’s just there. Under the surface, but obvious when you compare Hunter with his oppo Reacher. Reacher is detached, hard to imagine him getting emotionally involved in anything much, always keeps everything at arms length. Hunter doesn’t. He hugs a problem and holds it close to his heart. Maybe why he sometimes gets too close. Too close to see, what he shouldn’t be doing. Forgetting his SAS training.

Hunter is still doing his (mental at least) bit to set back equal rights for women. There is some totally unnecessary, new readers start here, stuff about Hunter doing his utmost to protect women. In Hunter’s world, men are men and can be bad. Women cannot. If they get in the way of his bullets or whatever, it’s because they were confused and have wandered where they should not in that confusion.  I get to feeling that if a woman should open fire on Hunter, it must be a man in a dress. Compare that to Reacher (and I’m not deliberately doing Matt a disservice here, because the book(s) trumpet their ‘if you like Reacher, you’ll like this’ all over). Reacher never, ever feels it necessary to remind us of any of this sort of nonsense. We take it for granted that he’s not going to deliberately hurt a woman. Unless she removes herself from his protection, by trying to hurt him. Hunter has blathered on about this sort of thing in book after book. He doesn’t need to. Face it Hunter, women have fought tooth and nail to be treated equally, and you’re trying to turn them back into confused, naive objects of worship.

A woman protagonist, would send Hunter’s brain into meltdown, his worry-beads flying everywhere. But it’s something Matt should really consider doing. Just to see what would happen.

The other problem, is just…the change from it being just another job (he is hired to find a girl), to Hunter being willing to lay down his life for her, happened  far too quickly. It felt like from one page to the next. It really didn’t ring true. Like there was some explanation in the first draft but it got cut maybe a little too savagely. Fortunately, as there’s so many other fine things going on before and after, while it did stick in my memory, it didn’t spoil anything much.

To be fair, maybe I could think of the No Going Back of the title referring to the burning of bridges, as in there’s no going back once you’ve thought ‘I’ll die for her’?

After some thought, I’ve actually come to the conclusion that all the faults I’ve found in Hunter through the series (so far) actually do work -and to his advantage. They actually make Hunter the more rounded character, when seen in comparison to Reacher. You know what you’re getting with Reacher (nothing ‘wrong’ with that, I hasten to add), but Hunter’s failings, make him perhaps the more unpredictable, and therefore interesting, character.

That’s it! I’m totally onboard now – and so should you be!

You can buy No Going Back from Booksplea.se

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