Review - THE HUNTER, Tony Park
Way back when AustCrimeFiction first lurched into life, it felt like keeping up with the local crime and thriller book output would be achievable. That's been one of the wider and deeper and more delusional pipe dreams of many. Which needless to say makes THE HUNTER the first Tony Park novel I've picked up. Bit of a mistake that.
As sweeping, action packed thrillers go, THE HUNTER ticks a lot of boxes. Set in Africa you'd be forgiven for expecting a story arc that matches aspects of the landscape, big, broad, sweeping with more than a bit of danger lurking under the surface, and you do get a lot of those aspects in spades. You also get a central character who's part hero, part sympathetic character, part bit of a "lad". Hudson Brand negotiates his way through these multiple sexual encounters, lost loves, a bit of longing, and a lonely, essentially unconnected personal life whilst working as a safari guide, and a private investigator. Both of those worlds collide quite conveniently when he's investigating the possible insurance fraud behind a road death, and ferrying the dead woman's sister and husband around on a safari / search for answers.
There's a lot of complications to the plot in THE HUNTER, what with the search for the truth about the car accident death of Kate; the possibility that her friend Linley's up to no good with the insurance claim; poaching; safari's gone pear-shaped because of other idiot safari guides; the involvement of sister and brother-in-law; a robbery scam going on between two women; the occasional foray into the bush to gaze at the wildlife; and the search for a serial killer. Not all these elements are always held up in the air as firmly as they could be needless to say.
Whilst in the main this is still a real page turner, and the complications are delivered in a manner that makes them readable and enjoyable, there are a few elements that got a bit wobbly. The serial killer search aspect does seem to spend an inordinate amount of time wallowing around in the lead investigator's marital situation, and, with the benefit of hindsight in particular, the whole insurance scam / sister / grumpy brother-in-law thing was a bit drawn out, when the resolution had declared itself about half way through the book. On the upside much of the action is really good, and some of it particularly funny, so here I plead a certain sneaking liking for the two women thieves who had quite a lot of style, as well as hefty doses of front.
Now I just need to make sure that THE HUNTER's not the last of Tony Park's books that wind there way up Mt TBR.
Safari guide and private investigator Hudson Brand hunts people, not animals. He's on the trail of Linley Brown who's been named as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. Linley's friend, Kate, supposedly died in a fiery car accident in Zimbabwe, but Kate's sister wants to believe it is an elaborate fraud.
South African detective Sannie van Rensburg is also looking for Linley, as well as a serial killer who has been murdering prostitutes on Sannie's watch. Top of her list of suspects is Hudson Brand. Sannie and Hudson cross paths and swords as they track the elusive Linley from South Africa and Zimbabwe to the wilds of Kenya's Masai Mara game reserve.