The Chinese Proverb and One Single Thing, Tina Clough
ONE SINGLE THING is the second in the Hunter Grant series from NZ author Tina Clough. You don't have to have read the earlier book (THE CHINESE PROVERB, 2017) to get this outing to work, but this series is developing into something a bit special, and it's always best to get in at the start when that's going on.
Somehow I managed completely and utterly to miss posting a review of THE CHINESE PROVERB when I read it, so this is now a combined thing. The first book in the series was released in 2017, after an earlier standalone novel by the same author.
THE CHINESE PROVERB introduces Hunter Grant and his now partner Dao in an explosive start to what becomes a caring and supportive relationship. Grant discovered Dao unconscious in the NZ bush, a victim of horrendous abuse. Rescuing her, and extracting some revenge took all of the cunning and smarts this Army veteran could muster. A little prone to big portents and the overuse of metaphor, it was, nonetheless an interesting pairing of two characters with potential. Dao in particular is not your standard victim, damaged sure, but not bowed, so THE CHINESE PROVERB provided a decent bit of escapism and some solid dare doing.
Forward to this second novel ONE SINGLE THING, released in 2019 and Hunter and Dao are now living in suburbia, still hyper-alert as one of Dao's abusers still roams free, definitely posing an ongoing threat as some unfinished business awaits. Protected by some serious surveillance systems, but managing to live a reasonably peaceful life, they are approached by the Noah, the brother of journalist Hope Barber, because Hope has vanished. Her front door was wide open, her bag and phone still inside, and there are strange things about her disappearance - not the least of which is the discovery that she's escaped an earlier, recent, kidnap attempt. Is this something to do with her time in Pakistan or is there something else going on? Hunter Grant's army front line experience doesn't help him in the same way that it did when rescuing Dao, but her smarts and understanding of human nature helps fill in some gaps, and Noah's tech literacy works to their advantage as well.
As mentioned earlier it's not absolutely necessary to read the earlier book to get the backstory of Grant and Dao sorted out - there's more than enough fill in here to give new readers a good idea, without bogging down what's overall a really tense, and well paced thriller. The ongoing character development is good, and the chance to get to know how the fallout from Dao's past is going is cleverly done. The balance of personal and action, and the tightness of the dialogue and the plot development is getting better and better, and there's much in ONE SINGLE THING to make the possibility of an ongoing series quite tantalising.
Army veteran Hunter Grant thought he had left war behind in Afghanistan – a conflict that left him with physical and psychological scars. But finding an unconscious girl in the Northland bush and gradually untangling her story involves him in a war of a different kind in his own country.
Hunter sets out to find and punish the man Dao calls Master, but he soon discovers there is more to this than enslavement. Before long he himself is being hunted by the boss of a drug empire whose sole objective is to kill Dao – she knows too much.
Protecting Dao and waging war while trying to keep the police from stifling his enterprise takes all Hunter’s ingenuity and determination and exposes him to deadly jeopardy. He enlists his old army buddy Charlie and her helicopter to help him, but things become complicated when Dao disappears.
Journalist Hope Barber disappears two weeks after returning to New Zealand from an assignment in Pakistan, leaving her front door open and her bag and phone inside. Her brother Noah reports her missing, but the police are dismissive and refuse to give any reason for their reluctant to act, despite the evidence.
Noah involves Hunter Grant and Dao to help him find his sister, but the authorities will only confirmation that Hope's file is flagged 'no action by police'. Presuming there is a block on her file from either intelligence services or Interpol they start their own investigation, but as details about Hope's time in Pakistan start emerging they are faced with more questions than answers.
Was Hope under surveillance? Was she linked to terrorists? Who is the man Hope called 'my stalker'?
Hunter, who in 'The Chinese Proverb' used his frontline Army experience to save Dao, finds himself in unknown territory. When a key person from Dao's past life in captivity turns up, things reach crisis point and Hunter once again takes matters of justice and retribution into his own hands.