Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Cold Justice, the debut thriller from Ant Middleton. Probably better known for his non fiction books and the TV show SAS: Who Dares Wins, I’ve got to admit I was very intrigued when offered the advance copy by Sphere. I love a good action thriller and with the authors background, and a great sounding premise, this was right up my street. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
Mallory – he was the best of the best, a Special Forces leader and a hero. But then he made a fatal decision, gambling with the lives of his men with terrible consequences: two dead, and his young friend Donno left in a coma.
Back on the streets, with nothing to lose, Mallory has a darkness growing inside him, a dangerous need to seek out trouble. Then Donno’s mother asks him for help: her other son, Scott, has gone missing in South Africa, and she wants Mallory to find him.
Perhaps it’s redemption, perhaps he’s looking for revenge on the world, but suddenly Mallory has a purpose, and nothing and no one is going to stand in his way.
A THRILLER SO REAL IT HURTS.
I really rather enjoyed this book. Combining mystery, tension and an all action hero in Mallory, it’s the kind of story that is right up my street. I read through it in a couple of evenings and from start to finish it kept me thoroughly entertained. If you like action thrillers, then this is definitely one you should be adding to your reading list.
This is the story of former Special Forces operative Mallory (no first name) who is suffering a form of PTSD and overwhelming guilt as a result of his final operation in Afghanistan which ends in the loss of most of his team. When he goes to visit his former colleague, Donno, he is asked for a huge favour by Donno’s mother – to try and track down her younger son, Scott, who has gone missing without a trace. Mallory is understandably reluctant but once he commits he is all in. Little does he know how dangerous and intense the whole situation is set to become. But, let’s face it. It wouldn’t be much of an action thriller if Scott was just holed up at a mates house now would it.
Drawing on the author’s own combat experience, there is a real air of authenticity about the story, especially the scenes that recount the final fatal mission that changes Mallory and Donno’s fates forever. There is no doubt that the author knows his stuff – also no doubt that we aren’t treated to even half of the real work that goes on behind the scenes of such an operational But it’s enough to pique the interest, get the heart rate thumping and to make it clear that the conflict they are facing is not just with the enemy. Although spaced carefully throughout the book, the chapters give a real insight into the man and the tragedy that haunts him. Also what keeps him going and why he is determined to do right by Donno and his mother, even when the stakes are increasingly high.
The mainstay of the story, the reason why Scott goes missing and the subsequent battle that Mallory find himself caught up in spans several continents, all of which are carefully portrayed. From Birmingham to New Orleans to Johannesburg, you get a flavour of the different settings and how each informs and affects the storytelling. I’ll not look at Birmingham New Street in the same way again, put it that way. The chapters are short, the pacing just right and the tension well maintained throughout the novel, keeping me turning the pages and determined to see what is what and who the not quite so invisible enemy really are. None of the violence that occurs is unnecessarily graphic, just enough kept off the page to avoid being cliched or unbelievable, but still giving me enough entertainment and suitable quotas of eww and teehee ness about the dispatch of the baddies to keep me invested in the action.
But for me, one the real things that makes this book work is Mallory. He’s not the perfect all action hero, although it’s fair to say he’s pretty handy in a fight and has a real awareness of his surroundings and the imminent threats as you would expect from someone of his pedigree. But there is something engaging about him, something that made me want to see him stop the bad guys and find out what is really going on. Yes, there are times that his ability to evade the baddies seems a little exaggerated, especially as the majority of it is completed single handed, and the folks he is up against aren’t exactly amateurs. But he’s not Superman and he can be hurt. In fact his only real ‘kryptonite’ is his guilt over what happened to Donno, but it is also his greatest strength and what drives him to do better. And who wants to see an action hero who doesn’t kick ass in all the best ways?
Pacy, action packed and backed up by a great mystery and characters I really got behind, this was a fab debut and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Mallory in the future. It’s the kind of book you can see translating to screen adaptation, it has that kind of vibe to it and I think that action thriller fans will be kept very happy.
About the Author
Ant Middleton was the front man for Channel 4’s hit show, SAS: Who Dares Wins, among other major series, and a hugely bestselling non-fiction author. Born in Portsmouth and raised in rural France, Ant set his sights on a career in the armed forces and didn’t stop striving until he achieved his goal. Over the course of his career he has served in the Special Boat Service, the Royal Marines and 9 Parachute Squadron Royal, achieving what is known as the ‘Holy Trinity’ of the UK’s Elite Forces.