|To Kill For (The Killing Machine) by Phillip Hunter|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Ex-British-Para Joe is back after To Die For with revenge more than on his mind. A gritty London gangland story that's a bit formulaic in places but packed with so much action it would make a great film.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: September 2014|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
Contains To Die For spoilers
Ex Falkland Campaign para Joe is out for revenge. Brenda, a woman he could have loved, is murdered and Joe himself may have been the one forced to kill Kid, an abused young girl he'd sworn to protect. Joe will find the name behind the deaths and make sure they too suffer fatally. The only thing is, in a world of fluctuating loyalties and deceit, he may not survive long enough to carry out his ambition, even if he was the only one searching… But he's not!
British author Phillip Hunter wins my imaginary prize for the best book blurb bio of the year. After listing his English and screenwriting degrees, the publisher adds He was also part of the team that sequenced the human genome. Doesn't sliding that in last just smack of English understatement and modesty? However, Phillip's transition from testing human internal bodily liquids to describing their frequent and copious spillage is anything but understated.
Phillip's crime fiction is gritty, bloody and no holds barred in the Get Carter/Long Good Friday tradition. In fact it's interesting that Phillip has an MA in screen writing because, for me, this would make a better movie than it does a novel.
This, the sequel to To Die For, works as a stand-alone but one of my problems is that Joe feels a little like a cardboard cut-out. I wanted to get closer to him but found it difficult to engage with his hard shell. (Unfortunately I hadn't read the first book so perhaps we learn all we need to know about his internal workings there?) He looks back at his relationship with Brenda, regretfully apologising for not being romantic but we get the feeling this isn’t a book about relationships or indeed emotions.
As Joe goes through the obstacles it feels a little formulaic, ticking each human obstacle off his list rather than allowing us to care about him or know enough about his victims to dislike them. Perhaps the reason is that he's so numbed by pain and violence that he has become a 2-D cut out?
Indeed this is an out-and-out, one man vigilante force trail of revenge as Joe tries to get to the instigator of his pain while they both live. The fact that another party also wants the guy adds to the sense of danger as Joe tries to stay one step ahead of them as well as the police. The police here being a particularly bent, cynical bunch you wouldn't want to ask for directions let alone get on the wrong side of while adding suspense as we don’t know how they'll react.
In the end what you think of To Kill For will depend on what you'd like to get from it. If you're interested in learning more about gangland culture from those on the inside, there's not a lot of meat on these bones. However, if you fancy an action-packed thriller that may sometimes seem a little superficial on the page but would make a great Jason Statham movie on the screen, you've definitely come to the right place.
(Thank you, Head of Zeus, for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If this appeals and you like a bit of grit with your gangland thriller, we heartily recommend Something You Are by Hanna Jameson.
You can read more book reviews or buy To Kill For (The Killing Machine) by Phillip Hunter at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy To Kill For (The Killing Machine) by Phillip Hunter at Amazon.com.
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