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Ratings and Reviews (6 26 star ratings
6 reviews
)

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5
26
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All Reviews

  • 6 person found this review helpful

    6 people found this review helpful

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    Excellent debut novel, really enjoyed

    A great read and having read about why this author turned to writing, I really want to share it and get others to enjoy it too. I don't want to give the plot away so I’m opting for quoting what some of the ‘big’ names have said about this book. I agreed! 'Terse, tense and vivid writing. Matt Johnson is a brilliant new name in the world of thrillers. And he's going to be a big name' - Peter James 'From the first page to the last, an authentic, magnetic and completely absorbing read' - Sir Ranulph Fiennes 'Utterly compelling and dripping with authenticity. This summer's must-read thriller' - J S Law, author of Tenacity 'Out of terrible personal circumstances, Matt Johnson has written a barnstormer of a thriller. Nothing is clear-cut in a gripping labyrinthine plot, which despite thrills and spills aplenty never falls short of believable' - David Young, author of Stasi Child 'Wicked Game has the authenticity I look for in a thriller. While the plot kept me turning pages, the characters made me care. Matt writes like a man who has lived it' --Kevin Maurer, author of No Easy Day Usually I shy away from books if they seem likely to have lots of technical detail but this felt like learning interesting info about a new world - the police and army facts are there for a purpose, woven into the story and helping me understand. Interesting. Definitely 5*, no question.
  • 4 person found this review helpful

    4 people found this review helpful

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    Wicked game

    An absolutely great book. Wonderful read and a very griping story. I look forward to reading the next book by this author.
  • 4 person found this review helpful

    4 people found this review helpful

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    Tense thriller with twists and turns.

    It started a bit slowly but once I got into it I couldn't put it down. Good thriller combining army and police procedures and action referring to real events in my memory. Very interested at the end to find out how the author got into writing and why; making the story so authentic.
  • 3 person found this review helpful

    3 people found this review helpful

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    Tense & Exciting

    This is an extremely brilliant debut story from Matt Johnson I found it exciting and look forward to my next read by this author.
  • 2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    Emotive and explosive - a brilliant read

    Now, I have always loved me a good thriller, a bit of the cat and mouse chase and perhaps a touch of espionage or covert mission/secret service action style plotting. I also loved me a good police procedural. Imagine my absolute joy when I started reading Wicked Game and got a little bit of everything; policemen, terrorism covert operations and absolute edge of the seat action. One very happy camper right here, I can tell you. So. This book really opens with a bang. Not quite literally, although there is an explosion in the first few pages which really sets up the expectation for the rest of the book. I kind of thought maybe the pair we first meet were important. That these were characters we were going to follow. And we did. For a few yards out of the confines of the airport before they were toast. Now I know this sounds awful but that surprise factor really did make me smile. It soon became clear just who was really going to be key to this whole story, but not yet why. And as Matt Johnson introduces us to the novel’s central protagonist, Robert Finlay, you start to get a real flavour of what this book is about. The book is written from two perspectives. The first is the omniscient narrator, with whom we take the journey of all of the secondary characters in the book. The other character, written in first person, is Finlay. Now we spend a lot of time with Finlay as he navigates his changes in job from Royal Protection to Inspector at Stoke Newington Police Station, and also as he sets the scene for some of the key events which shape the present day. We travel back in time with Finlay to a period in the history of Northern Ireland when terrorism was still rife and Finlay was serving in the SAS. The story also takes us to the Iranian Embassy siege and references the death in service of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, all highly emotive events, and amongst those which shaped the authors own life. It is this understanding, this authenticity, which rings through the narrative with such emotional clarity that you do not need graphic detail to understand the impacts of these events upon the people who experienced them. The story moves seamlessly between past and present, but it is in the present day that we see the most action, and the biggest impact upon Finlay. Now I won’t go too far into plot as this book deserves to be read for itself to be fully appreciated. Finlay is a complex character, one shaped by his past but focused on his future, one which now includes extra responsibilities; a wife and daughter. As he and his police colleagues start to be targeted and killed in terrorist style attacks, you are left wondering which, if any, of the events above could be at the root of the deaths. There is no warning, no mercy, and the killers appear to be unperturbed by collateral damage, particularly among serving officers, as long as their targets are hit. I could understand and appreciate Finlay’s reluctance to get drawn into the search for the killers, his need to protect his family, especially as they had no idea of the full extent of his past in the Armed Forces. But there was also an inevitability about his involvement. It was more a matter of how long he could hold out for. In spite of all his training, Finlay isn’t your typical action hero. A former Officer, he does not appear to have the deadly compulsion or conviction of his colleagues and with this softer edge, and at 48 years old his now softer physical edges, isn’t quite as ready for the action as he may have been in his younger years. But this only serves to make him even more appealing, to make me root for him even more. It is his intellect, planning and core training as much as his physical strength which will be needed in this particular battle. There is a cheeky quality to him, one which is really brought to the fore in his interactions with his wife, and the tender moments with his daughter are beautifully written. This is a guy who has been damaged by his past, who suffers from crippling nightmares, and yet he has it all to fight for and you know damned well he will. The tension in this book was palpable. The energy with which the action hit was like a fist in the gut at times. There are so many elements of misdirection in this book, false leads which take you up the garden path and back again, that anything you think you know will most likely be wrong. In a story built around secrets, where people are skilled in the art of lying and evasion, can you really trust anything or anyone? Probably not. But you will still care. Very much so. About Finlay. About his family. About his colleague Jones. You will want them to come good. You will want them to win. That is the emotion you will feel with the way in which this book is written. A wonderful blend of action and emotion; a plot which is as gripping and measured as it is explosive. I needed to know how it would end and I now need to read book two. Bring it on.
26

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