Dead Men's Dust by Matt Hilton

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Dead Men's Dust by Matt Hilton

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: The first in an undoubtedly lengthy series of Joe Hunter thrillers introduces us, with a bang, to a man who is ready for a fight with nothing to lose but blood.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: October 2009
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0340978238

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Joe Hunter helps people. That's what he does. He's been around the block and to say that he has learned a trick or two along the way might be something of an understatement. No-one really knows much about Joe Hunter and certainly his past is not something that many would be brave enough to poke around in.

I hadn't been a secret agent; it wasn't for me to use guile and trickery to root out the bad guys. I was the weapon sent in when all the planning was done with and all that was left was the arse-kicking. Arse-kicking I was good at. It got results.

The fact that subtlety is not really Hunter's thing has served him well; Hunter deals with bullies, you see, in a sort of in-at-the-deep-end-guns-blazing kind of way and so when Hunter's half-brother, John Telfer goes missing in America, our hero takes it upon himself to track him down and find out why he had to take off in the first place.

Arriving Stateside, and with the aid of a trusty Yankee sidekick Jared 'Rink' Rington, Hunter heads off into America's deep south all the while knowing that he is probably running straight towards more trouble than he bargained for. Because Hunter is not the only man looking for John Telfer - in fact, John Telfer is being stalked; and not just by his brother and a gang of merciless thugs who want their property back. John Telfer has somehow managed to catch the attention of America's most notorious serial killer, The Harvestman.

Let's first begin by explaining that Dead Men's Dust is a debut novel from a British ex-policeman and private security specialist, so he presumably knows his apples (and if the press coverage of Hilton's novel being discovered, on the off-chance, in an agency slush pile and successive whopping advance is anything to go by, then he most surely does), and sticks cleverly to his field of expertise.

The story is written in alternating chapters, in the first person (our hero, Joe Hunter) and then in the third person - a rather unpleasant individual who gets his kicks by going around the country murdering people for no good reason other than that he likes the look of their fingers, which he then removes and keeps as souvenirs. It's an interesting writing style that occasionally frustrates (at first it is a little bumpy and one arc of the story moves more swiftly than the other), but fairly quickly becomes a little bit like watching a movie that is shot from two alternating story lines.

Hunter alone is interesting enough; he is tough and resourceful; a seek-and-destroy black ops specialist who gets the job and basically everything else in between done, but with a moral code that keeps him from going over the edge. However, when coupled with a fine supporting cast of heroes and villains, the readers' expectations are fairly guaranteed to be fulfilled.

Now, if you can get past the over-abundance of clichés - I could not… but then I am probably far too fussy about these Army Of One kind of novels and frankly, if your name is not Scott Mariani, you are already struggling to get my attention – then you will no doubt see that Dead Men's Dust is a pretty good read overall. Towards the end, you'll also be glad to discover some surprises; none of them earth-shattering, though they are satisfying enough and thankfully, Hilton weaves in a couple of potential plot threads that will lead us neatly into the next installment in this series.

As you can see, I have given Hilton's debut four stars but I do have to tell you that these stars are four Bookbag stars and not four of my personal stars. From my personal perspective, there are better novels out there in this genre. I mentioned Scott Mariani and you should definitely take a look at The Doomsday Prophecy. Mariani's hero, Ben Hope, is spot on and for my money, just a bit too hard to beat and anyone thinking of writing this kind of novel, ought to read him first! In any case, you may also enjoy Vanished by Joseph Finder as in the Army Of One category, it is definitely worth a look.

Having said all of the above, I will, in all likelihood, read Hilton's follow up, just in case. He certainly has the right idea and maybe it will be even better?

We at Bookbag would like to extend our thanks to the kind ladies and gentlemen at Hodder for sending this copy to us for review.

Buy Dead Men's Dust by Matt Hilton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dead Men's Dust by Matt Hilton at

Buy Dead Men's Dust by Matt Hilton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dead Men's Dust by Matt Hilton at


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