I’m thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Matt Johnson’s Deadly Game which is available now in the UK and June 1 for the US. It’s published by the wonderful Orenda Books
Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered. Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all… Picking up where the bestselling Wicked Game left off, Deadly Game sees Matt Johnson’s damaged hero fighting on two fronts. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate.
This is my first experience with Matt Johnson’s writing and I have to say I’m very impressed. I had every intention of reading Wicked Game, the first book in the Robert Finley series, but time has gotten away from me, life has intervened as it often does and I just couldn’t get to it, unfortunately. I say that because if you have the time you should really start with book 1 as I’m positive you’d get an even better feel for the characters and the ongoing story arc of Robert as well as who’s who in M15 and M16. Also, there’s definitely spoilers involved in this book as to who the “bad” guys were in book 1 as well as who got killed etc. So, that begs the question…how did I do with jumping in with book 2?
In all honesty, it took me awhile, maybe 50 or so pages to get a handle on the storyline, characters, plot direction etc but that isn’t the fault of the author at all, it was simply a matter of me not having read book 1 and also trying to get my bearings on the many terms and positions of a criminal justice system in another country. There’s a lot to get a handle on as I thought the details involving M15, M16, SAS, Operation Cyclone, etc were heavy, yet completely authentic. Obviously, Matt Johnson’s background as an ex-cop and soldier play heavily in the plot and it was all the more realistic for it. At one point, it reminded me so much of an episode of Homeland that I realized I REALLY better pay careful attention to plot details or, as often happens to me when I’m watching Homeland, I’ll find myself completely lost.
I feel that the blurb does a good job of giving you an idea of the story so I’d like to talk about some of the story elements I thought worked so well to create this action thriller that I think will really appeal to fans of political jigsaw puzzles:
- The characters – the author managed to create multidimensional, realistic characters, many of whom I liked (Robert, Kevin, Lynn, Jenny) and MANY I just had a suspicious feeling I couldn’t trust (Toni, Howard…well just about everyone else:)
- The dialogue – Can I just say…excellent! I can’t imagine how hard it must be to create dialogue in a thriller that needs to instill a sense a urgency, fear, anger, all the while being completely realistic.
- Narrative structure – The plot follows a fairly linear timeline (which I appreciate) starting in Romania in 1999 then continuing on in the early 2000s in London with action packed jumps to places like Egypt! It’s narrated for the most part by Robert with occasional chapters from other people’s perspectives which I thought worked perfectly to keep the pace flowing as well as keeping me on my toes as to who was (possibly) telling the truth or lying.
- Relevant, disturbing storyline – I always appreciate when I can learn something as well as be entertained from a book I read and (sadly) I learned so much about sex trafficking I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading the book. So heartbreaking and anger producing and you just know when you’re reading that Matt Johnson knows what he’s writing about. I had no idea and it was shocking to say the least.
If you enjoy political action thrillers ala Homeland I think you’ll find much to enjoy in Matt Johnson’s Deadly Game
About Matt Johnson:
Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. His bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, was the result.
Be sure to stop by the other awesome blogs on the Deadly Game tour