Book review: The Hunter by Tom Wood

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Meet Victor...he likes to think he goes unnoticed; bland, neutral, just like countless other people, difficult to describe and eminently forgettable.

But you’re going to remember him because Victor is a cool-handed assassin so deadly that he believes he is the evolutionary culmination of thousands of years of an innate human desire to kill.

He’s a man with no past and no surname, his idea of a relationship is a call girl he likes to use more than once and he’s the star of a stunning, high-octane action thriller which reads more like the work of a seasoned pro than a debut author.

Tom Wood’s fast-paced and explosive chase adventure has all the cinematic scope of The Bourne Identity and The Thomas Crown Affair and the nail-biting suspense of a Lee Child novel.

Victor is an inspired creation - unburdened by tiresome personal baggage, psychologically astute, an expert in human physiology, a master of black humour and utterly ruthless. And what he doesn’t know about weaponry isn’t worth knowing.

We first meet Victor on what seems a routine contract killing in Paris...no questions asked, two bullets in a middle-aged man’s chest and one in his head because ‘there’s no such thing as overkill’, a memory stick retrieved from an attaché case, job done.

It was a standard kill and collect, beneath his skills really, simple, boring, although something in the back of his mind warns him it has all been a little too easy.

And he’s right. Back at his hotel, there’s a team of professionals waiting to gun him down and he has to think quickly but carefully because in Victor’s line of work ‘those who made a first mistake were rarely around long enough to make a second’.

It’s just the start of a chase across four continents as Victor works desperately to find out who wants him dead and why.

Accompanied by a woman too beautiful to trust and pursued by a moonlighting British spy reputed to have ‘killed more people than Stalin’, Victor’s unknown enemies are as ruthless and efficient as himself.

Has the angel of death finally met his match?

Wood’s writing is concise and superbly descriptive, and the action sequences are meticulously imagined and choreographed.

A white-knuckle ride not to be missed.

(Sphere, paperback, £6.99)