I reviewed my good mate Matt Hilton's debut novel, Dead Men's Dust, on Amazon and received criticism from one guy in particular who pointed out Matt and I are mates (what a bombshell - he must be good at Cluedo!). We're intrinsically linked for all to see over at TKnC for God's sake!
I wrote the review in my full name and never hid the fact we are mates (it never crossed my mind as I was speaking from the heart), so I guess in hindsight I was on a hiding to nothing. I don't quite get that Amazon thing where many people go to the trouble of slagging off hard-working authors under the pretentious premise of: 'just letting my fellow readers know so they don't waste their money.'
Well, one thing's for sure...your money's in safe hands with Judgement & Wrath...
From the outset I felt JAW was an improvement on DMD, which is no detriment to Matt's debut as I thoroughly enjoyed it. JAW's basic plot is ex-Special Forces Agent, Joe Hunter and his trusty sidekick, Rink, were hired to protect a female from her mega rich, bullying boyfriend. But when Hunter discovers things aren't quite what they seem, and into the mix is thrown a billion dollar pharmaceutical deal with the military and a psycho' killer known as dark angel, Dantalion, the proverbial shit hits the fan big time. So much so that the FBI become heavily involved and the contract killer is unable to accurately update his precious coded book that's chained to his side detailing his numerous victims.
Dantalion is arguably more crazy than the Harvestman, Tubal Cain, from DMD. I think he's certainly more cunning, cold-blooded and indiscriminate than Cain, which seems implausible to even suggest! The story alternates viewpoints between Hunter in the first person and Dantalion in third person. This works a treat and creates many plots twists whereby Hunter (and the reader) thinks one thing, yet in the next chapter you discover another more intriguing or disturbing angle.
If I was to be hyper-critical, like some reviewers who seem to revel in being negative, I noticed a few coincidences where luck played a part in life or death situations. On reflection, I feel this was realistic enough to be both acceptable and necessary to keep the story going, and was evenly spread between Hunter and Dantalion, as with the amount of conflict in this action-packed crime thriller there just had to be moments when things didn't go perfectly to plan for either character.
On a lighter note, I had to reach for my dictionary a few times and wondered if this book was really written by that down-to-earth bloke with the broad Cumbrian accent! This time round it was nice to get to know Hunter and Rink a little more and see they had a softer, more human side.
I must say I was surprisingly impressed with the research Matt must have put in to make JAW as authentic as possible. When I read a novel I like to learn new things and whether it be the Floridian landscape, insights into the military, unarmed combat or weaponry, I wasn't disappointed.
I won't give away the explosive climax, but to summarize: if you like rapid-paced action thrillers with penetrating end-of-chapter hooks throughout; plus sprinkles of dry humour and the thrill of the chase when good meets evil, then look no further than Judgement & Wrath.
Hopefully I've answered the question in the title. Feel free to let me know either way.