Bane of Kings reviews the sixth novel in the thrilling Joe Hunter series by Matt Hilton, published by Hodder and Stoughton.
“Breathtaking, fast paced action with thrills that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.” ~The Founding Fields
Warning! Minor Spoiler Alert in this novel, although you will get as much as I’ve revealed in this review as from the back cover of Dead Man’s Harvest.
Every now and then, I like to take a break from fantasy and science fiction, and read the odd thriller novel. Dead Men’s Harvest grabbed my attention right from the get go, and I didn’t realise that it was the sixth book in a series until it was too late. But, regardless, I figured that Dead Men’s Harvest would be one of those books where you can pick up at any point in the series and enjoy it, like Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels for example.
This novel sees the return of Tubal Cain, who apparently was the enemy of the main protagonist, Joe Hunter, in Dead Men’s Dust, the very first novel in the series, which – after reading Dead Men’s Harvest, I think I want to pick up. Regardless, Cain is back, and has kidnapped Joe’s best friend, Jared ‘Rink’ Rington.
But that isn’t the only thing that happens in this novel, oh no – we’re talking about a chase that will eventually lead to the battered hulk that is The Queen Sofia, a container ship that human traffickers use to do their work.
It’s partway of the North Carolina coastline, and it’s where Joe will have to go to rescue his ex-sister in law, from the hands of the Harvestman himself, Tubal Cain.
This novel, as much as I enjoyed it, falls into the pattern that James Lovegrove’s Age of Zeus suffered from, where Hunter goes after bad guy after bad guy, getting ever closer to the goal of the ‘end boss’, Tubal Cain, and even though there are the occasional breaks in perspective from good guy to bad guy, kind of gets a bit repetitive after a while.
The pacing is, as expecting from a thriller, fast paced and doesn’t let you go until the very end, even though the outcome is a bit predictable, and I’m guessing even more so if you’re a long-term fan in the series.
The action is, in a novel that is repetitive, surprisingly varied. You get fights on boats, car chases, everything you would want from a summer blockbuster movie, you know, the stuff typically found in Hollywood.
Hilton has managed to do something that people would have been thought originally hard to do in a six book series, and as I mentioned earlier, that is drag people in even if they haven’t read any of the other books beforehand, and still finish the book having understood fully what’s going on, how evil Tubal Cain is, etc.
I think that, was I not preoccupied with several other books to read at the moment, I might just have to acquire the previous five books in the Joe Hunter series.
A good crime/thriller novel must accomplish several things if it wants to become ‘good’, and for me, and the latest adventure for Joe Hunter has accomplished at least two of these things: Hilton has managed to create a villain that the reader will hate, and you will find yourself rooting for the good guy as should be the case with all good novels in this genre.
The second thing is that you will find yourself not being able to put the book down, and that’s what I found here, with Dead Men’s Harvest. I didn’t want to put this book down, even when I knew I probably should get into bed late at night.
Another problem that I had with this book is that Hunter seems to be a bit too overpowered for my liking. By the end of the book you’re getting the impression that he could take on at least a thousand bad guys and come out with only minor injuries.
Okay, I’m probably exaggerating, but don’t you get my point? Hunter is too good. But one thing’s for certain though, Dead Men’s Harvest has got me hooked enough to want more from Matt Hilton.
More Joe Hunter: Dead Men’s Dust, Judgement and Wrath, Slash and Burn, Cut and Run, Blood and Ashes, Dead Men’s Harvest, No Going Back (Out Spring 2012)