PrintE-mail Written by Tony Cowin

The Hunt, from renowned horror writer Tim Lebbon, is a blistering thriller that starts with a brick wedged on the accelerator and bodies stuffed in the boot. While a genre departure this new novel is still packed with terror and monstrous people Lebbon writes so well.

The story centres on Chris, a successful architect who hit a midlife crisis when his mid-body got fat. He tackled his issues head on by becoming an avid runner. Now he has it all; a great job, a house in the country, a loving wife and two beautiful daughters. His world is balanced until he comes home from his morning run to discover a covert organisation called Trail have kidnapped his family. The underground outfit supplies human quarry for a sport reserved for the wealthiest in society.

Chris discovers the ransom to be paid is his participation in a hunt through the Welsh mountains. He finds himself frightened and alone until he meets a stranger called Rose. She has a motive of her own; to avenge the murder of her family and take out the main Trail coordinator named Grin. Rose is the sole survivor of the Trail. It’s through her that Chris discovers his family are safe as long as he survives and keeps running. The subplot of the aptly named Rose and her ascent from a slow suicide through drinking to a skilled hunter is a great break up diversion interspersed through the dynamic chapters. This subplot is a clever device allowing us to see the impact the Trail leaves on people’s lives. While Rose is being trained in southern Italy by a mysterious assassin named Holt, we discover the horrors that await Chris and his family. These languid recollections read like a summer evening on the precipice of a lighting storm.

The fast pace of the novel is also alleviated by shifting focus to the kidnapped family and their plight. These parts introduce us to the strong teenager daughter Gemma, who is a revelation, and the brutality of Grin. The Hunt shares DNA with Ernest R. Dickerson’s 1994 film, Surviving the Game, and even Richard Connell’s 1924 novel, The Most Dangerous Game, but Lebbon infuses his own originality.

The characters are strong, the locations rich with the right balance of intimate details, and the focus on the damage Trail has upon people is haunting. The Hunt is packed with so much action, twists and breath-holding moments we're sure it’ll become a favourite for many thriller readers.

The Hunt is an Ironman novel; it swims along with pace, takes you on a thrilling ride and has the legs to run into a series.



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