Sunday, 27 February 2011

US Crime Drama's Master Craftsman

In this week's Cumberland News, there was a great review of BLOOD and ASHES by Steve Matthews at that I felt needed sharing. I'm indebted to Steve and Gwendolyn for all their support.


Review by Steve Matthews of Books Cumbria

“Brook Reynolds woke up screaming without knowing why.” A car had tail-gated her on a mountain road, then screeched past and blocked the road. She had swerved off, the car rolling through the forest. “’Help me,’ she said again more loudly . . . ‘I’m covered in gasoline. Please . . . somebody help me.’” She could hear voices. “Then the first one said, ‘Yeah. Take these matches. You’d better finish her off.’”Brook Reynold’s vicious murder – the local cops record it as a tragic auto accident – is the reason that ex-counter-terrorism agent Joe Hunter finds himself driving north to Pennsylvania. Her father, Don Griffiths, has called for his assistance. He knows that someone is out to get him and his family. His past life has made him a target for some of the most dangerous men in America.
Joe calls at the house in Bedford Wells. He senses he is being followed. He is shown into the darkened house by a resentful Millie. “I hear you’re supposed to be some sort of knight errant these days,” she says. Joe doesn’t want to hear when Don sees it as murder, tells him about the threatening e-mail from Carswell Hicks. Hicks is supposedly dead, burnt in a helicopter accident escaping from prison. Joe walks away.
Two men are waiting, threateningly, sitting on the bonnet of his car. “Just make sure you head outa here and know what it means if you come back.” Joe had been twiddling the keys in his hand. “The sharp point rammed directly into the stocky man’s neck an inch below the lobe of his ear.” The other man was a tougher case. He was coming towards Joe “fingers tightened to spear into my exposed throat.” There was a wet sound from where Joe’s elbow hit, and the man staggered backwards, spitting out loose teeth.
Within minutes, both men are dead, in the boot of their SUV and left on a lonely trail in the forest.
Joe Hunter has been trained to the point where killing is almost an instinct. His wife left him. He’s five feet eleven, greying hair, thirteen stone and of an athletic build, ex Parachute Regiment, living in Florida and operating as a “freelance security consultant”. He is in fact a vigilante, ready to carry his SIG SAUER P226 wherever it is needed and use it to deadly effect.
And throughout “Blood and Ashes” Joe needs that gun and all his resources and training as he finds himself defending a desperate and terrified family from a vengeful master criminal. But far more is at stake. Carswell Hicks is at the heart of a fascist plot to regain white supremacy in an America ruled by Barack Obama. The Koreans are supplying plutonium isotopes and the Statue of Liberty, New York and the free world are under threat from these racist thugs.
Matt Hilton, who leads a quiet life, writing books in Abbeytown, knows what he is talking about. The violence is graphic and choreographed with all the precision of a classic ballet. Alternating chapters let Joe tells his own story, each move, each desperate blow, each telling shot, and show us the thugs, their machinations and their hot pursuit.
The novel is closely crafted, sparing in character, crowded with action. The plot builds from the threat to one family until we see how the threat involves everyone. Yet Joe Hunter is the key. It is his actions, his skill and training and his courage that will keep the world safe.
This is Matt Hilton’s fifth book. He is a master craftsmen, shaping and building his story to a dramatic and exciting climax.

Signed copies of Matt Hilton’s “Blood and Ashes” are available from Bookends, 56 Castle Street, Carlisle, and 66 Main Street, Keswick, and from

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