It feels like an age since I’ve written a book review. To be fair, it feels like an age since I was regularly reading and getting hooked into a story. Reading and writing have taken a bit of a back seat over the last few months. Life, eh? Then again, the alternative isn’t an attractive option.

Nevertheless, having dragged my way through a Charlie Parker novel (I’ll write about that another time), I came out the other side with a little momentum at the end and, looking through the books sitting on my Kindle, thought I’d give The Hunter’s Quarry a go.

There are a few things I should flag up here to give you some context. The first is that I have met Mark a couple of times and he and I have swapped beta reads in the past. I don’t know whether my input to his novel made much difference, but I have to say his input made a massive difference to a novel I was working on. The second thing is that I have read a few of his books, some of which I’ve got round to reviewing, others not. Any I didn’t get round to reviewing were down to time rather than the quality of the books – I’ve enjoyed them all.

As it happens, the beta read I did for Mark was of an early version of this novel. I’m not great at re-reading books. Usually, once I’ve read one, it never graces my eyes again. So I did hesitate about reading this again, even though I knew it wouldn’t be exactly the same. Curiosity won out, though, because I did wonder how much it had changed.

In truth, because I haven’t read both versions side by side, I can’t say for sure that much has changed, though I’m pretty sure it has. Overall, it was a little more polished – which is unsurprising when you’ve been through several drafts – but there was definitely an extra layer of depth.

The important thing for you as a reader, though, is not the comparison, but the review of the novel in its present form.

Bear in mind that I was going through a bit of reading slump. To jump-start my reading, I was in pretty much the same place you can be when you just need to wind down and want to watch a movie with Schwarzenegger, Willis, Stallone, etc. leading the way. The plot is a device to move things forward, but really it’s just an excuse for lots of violence, action and spectacle that helps you release tension by proxy. Some film buffs will dismiss these movies as not being serious, but they do keep bringing you back to watch them again and again.

The Hunter’s Quarry is the literary equivalent. It grabs you by the throat at the beginning, throwing you into a pursuit that’s already started. There’s immediate tension and the threat of violence is clear and present. From there, the pace continues, with some artful switches in scene and points of view that allow the characters to be introduced and the scene set without any sense of stalling. The characters, incidentally, all feel very real with both good and bad guys flawed in their own ways.

A majority of action films have car chases and, on screen, they can be spectacular. Translating these into the printed word aren’t always as effective, yet Mark has the ability to create a cinematic experience in this book. Just as he does when the protagonists are pursued on foot. And yet, as with all good books, the settings and action feel real. When a character is hit, they feel it, and they bleed.

I’ve made the comparison with movies, and if you like a particular brand of action movie, you can also have some fun picking up on the references. If you don’t pick up on them, don’t worry about it. The book stands on its own merits.

Since finishing this book, I’ve jumped into a collection of short stories and microfiction, and am currently reading a psychological thriller – both quite different. But I am going to give The Hunter’s Quarry the credit for lifting me out of my reading slump. Let’s hope 2024 continues in that vein – and before long I’ll even settle down and get back to my own writing.

 

If I’ve piqued your interest and you want to know more, click on the image below.