John Smith is an ex-CIA man-turned-assassin with some extraordinary mental powers, and after a close friend – who also happens to be a reality TV star - is strafed down at her own wedding it becomes his personal mission to find out who is responsible. On paper, this should be an easy assignment for someone with Smith’s very unique set of telepathic abilities but when he discovers that an encrypted site called ‘Downvote’ has appeared on the darknet, and that its modus operandi is to encourage flashmobs to kill celebrities and collect a bounty, he realises that he has finally met a nemesis more capable than he is. Smith must travel the world to try and take this super genius down, but how can he stop someone capable of weaponizing the internet and turning us all into killers? Somehow the mastermind always remains one crucial step ahead, and time is running out for Smith because he is the next target….
Hunt You Down is the second book in the John Smith series but if you haven’t read the first one don’t worry, Smith is pretty much a psychic Jack Reacher with a troubling alcohol and pill addiction (but who could blame Smith for self-medicating when you consider the unwanted thoughts barrelling around inside his head?) If that sounds like a bad review it isn’t because although the protagonist may be derivative this is a very clever, thoughtful and slightly worrying thriller that is the definition of the cliché ‘pulse-pounding’. Christopher Farnsworth has tapped into our neuroses about the internet and the mindless herd instinct of many of its users and come up with a villain who wouldn’t be out of place in the new, grittier Bond universe. The writing is tight, the first person POV serves the narrative well, the pacing is fast and furious and the action is muscular. In fact, there are only a couple of complaints: the female characters are underwritten (something which almost seems to be standard for this genre, but is irritating nonetheless) and Smith should probably easy up a little on the acerbic wisecracks (or get himself a better gag writer). Still, this is exciting stuff which is worth reading for the concept alone and if you’re even remotely concerned about how cyberspace is turning us all into zombies, Hunt You Down will probably keep you awake at night.
HUNT YOU DOWN / AUTHOR: CHRISTOPHER FARNSWORTH / PUBLISHER: ZAFFRE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW