Joe Hunter used to be in Special Forces working against the terrorists. He did it for fourteen years and was good at it. Those skills don’t exactly translate well to civilian life so he finds himself working on the edge of things and solving problems that require the answer of gun or fist.


His sister in law, Jenny, wants him to travel to the U. S. to find his big brother, John. He abandoned her and the kids years ago and now she has gotten a note in the mail from his current girlfriend asking for help. Postmarked out of Arkansas, the note explains that John is missing and is begging for help. The girlfriend wants Joe to come help and so does Jenny. With the kids needing their dad and plenty of guilt among other factors, John agrees to travel to America and find his wayward brother.


John Hunter is up to his eyeballs in trouble and doesn’t know all of it. He owes money to some very dangerous people for one thing. The bigger issue is that he has several other enemies who pursue him for reasons unknown. But, Joe and a couple of his ex military friends are also on John’s trial and coming to help if they can get to him in time. It will all culminate in a violent showdown in Southern California.


Labeled by some as the poor man’s “Jack’s Reacher” the comparison is simplistic and flawed. Beyond the note of acknowledgement thanking Lee Child and the fact that Joe Hunter is ex-military, the two characters have little in common beyond a nose for trouble. The ability to get one’s self in trouble, no matter the best laid plans, is a requirement for every mystery or thriller character.


Character development and writing styles are massively different as well with most of Joe Hunter written from the first person perspective. Unlike the Jack Reacher character, Joe Hunter is verbose and occasionally guilty of a lack of focus on the issue at hand. One wonders if they were to meet whether Reacher would get annoyed at some point and cuff Joe in the back of the head while telling him to pay attention.


Of course, the major weakness in the novel is the storyline of the talented and crazed serial killer. Every few chapters, readers must immerse themselves into the tortured logic of his reality while he kills and kills again, plots and plots again, and is ever so clichéd and predictable. It is during these stretches that often seen to serve no purpose other that gratuitous violence that the tale bogs down.


Those weak and predictable chapters stand in stark contrast to most chapters featuring Joe Hunter and his quest. With occasionally clunky dialogue, plenty of action and violence, and lots of twists, most of the book goes at a rapid pace. The result is a strong tale in its own right and a book worthy of your consideration.


Dead Men’s Dust

By Matt Hilton

William Morrow (Harper Collins Publishers)

June 2009

ISBN# 978-0-06-171714-7

336 Pages




ARC provided through the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for my objective review.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2009


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