Publisher: Harper Collins (Trade Paperback – 22 November 2022)
Series: Colter Shaw – Book Four
Length: 419 pages
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
In the mood for a twisty and clever thriller guaranteed to leave you highly entertained? Then you should check out the recent release from best-selling author Jeffery Deaver, Hunting Time.
Due to starting on the genre a little later in life, I currently have a major backlog of famous crime fiction authors that I need to try to check out. One of these writers was Jeffery Deaver, who has made a major name for himself over the years with books in his Lincoln Rhyme (which includes The Bone Collector), Kathryn Dance and John Pellman series, as well as several stand-alone novels. His current series is the Colter Shaw novels, which follow unique private contractor and former survivalist Colter Shaw as he gets involved in a series of intriguing crimes. Hunting Time is the fourth book in the series and features a compelling plot that really grabbed my attention when I first saw it.
THERE ARE TWO FUNDAMENTAL RULES OF SURVIVAL.
#1: NEVER BE WITHOUT A MEANS OF ESCAPE.
Allison Parker is on the run with her teenage daughter, Hannah, and Colter Shaw has been hired by her eccentric boss, entrepreneur Marty Harmon, to find and protect her. Though he’s an expert at tracking missing persons–even those who don’t wish to be found–Shaw has met his match in Allison, who brings all her skills as a brilliant engineer designing revolutionary technology to the game of evading detection.
#2: NEVER BE WITHOUT ACCESS TO A WEAPON.
The reason for Allison’s panicked flight is soon apparent. She’s being stalked by her ex-husband, Jon Merritt. Newly released from prison and fueled by blinding rage, Jon is a man whose former profession as a police detective makes him uniquely suited for the hunt. And he’s not alone. Two hitmen are also hot on her heels–an eerie pair of thugs who take delight not only in murder but in the sport of devising clever ways to make bodies disappear forever. Even if Shaw manages to catch up with Allison and her daughter, his troubles will just be beginning.
SHAW IS ABOUT TO DISCOVER RULE #3:
NEVER BELIEVE ANYTHING.
As Shaw ventures further into the wilderness, the truth becomes as hard to decipher as the forest’s unmarked trails…and peril awaits at every turn.
This was an awesome and addictive read from Deaver and it is one that I had a wonderful time reading. Deaver has come up with a very clever crime fiction story for Hunting Time and I swiftly got drawn into the multi-layered story of hunters and prey. Told from the perspective of multiple characters involved in the case, you end up getting quite attached to the story as you see Allison flee from her former-cop husband, Jon, while Colter Shaw and other interested parties join the hunt. I loved the elaborate chase that ensued for much of the book, and you find yourself getting drawn to many of the new characters, especially as Deaver adds in some quick, but comprehensive, character background and history. While I was enjoying the story, I did think it was a bit one-note for most of the book as it seemed a simple revenge story that the protagonist was intervening in, although the various moves and countermoves of the participants was a lot of fun. However, it turns out that this was intentional by Deaver as he was building up to a pretty good twist towards the end of the book, one that I did not fully see coming. This big twist really changed the entire tone and structure of the story and you realise that Deaver set up this twist perfectly and allowed the reader’s assumptions to do the rest. This twist not only proved to be surprising and memorable, but it also completely changed everything that you knew about the main characters allowing you to see them in a whole new light. This ended up being a fantastically set out narrative and I was really impressed with the exciting and elaborate story that unfolded.
While I did have a wonderful time with the story, especially thanks to that twist, I did think that other parts of Deaver’s writing let Hunting Time down and impacted my overall enjoyment of the book. In particular, there was something off with the dialogue and character interactions featured within the book and which really threw me at times. Some of the dialogue in this book honestly didn’t resemble a normal or natural conversation between people, which often took me out of moment, derailing the pace and my attachment to the story. I also had a hard time connecting with the protagonist, Colter Shaw, possibly because I haven’t read any of the previous books in the series. While Deaver does reintroduce key parts of his backstory throughout Hunting Time, often to show how he developed his tracking skills, I found him to be a simplistic character, and his constant calculations of the odds and failed attempts to explain his business model were honestly irritating at times. That being said, Deaver did ensure that Hunting Time re-captured the main elements of the character, which allows for this book can easily be read as a standalone novel without any need to dive into the previous Colter Shaw books, which was a big help for a new reader like me.
I did feel that several of the other characters introduced in Hunting Time made up for the lack of a well-written central protagonist, especially when it came to husband-and-wife Jon Merritt and Allison Parker. Deaver painted a powerful picture around this couple, which included abuse, alcoholism and trauma, and the complex backstory he builds around them becomes a key part of the book. This character backstory becomes more and more relevant as the story continues, and the true revelation of their past comes back to haunt them in ways they never realised. Throw in a couple of entertaining hitmen, whose unique personalities also contain clues to one of the book’s big twists, and I ended up having a great time seeing how this story unfolded, even with some of the writing issues I mentioned before.
Overall, Hunting Time was a pretty fun book and it served as a good introduction to Jeffery Deaver for me. The story itself is very well set out, and I am still really impressed with how Deaver was able twist everything around and keep me in suspense. While I did notice a few technical issues, Deaver’s great storytelling and fantastic supporting characters ended up outweighing the bad and this came away as a very strong read in my opinion. I will have to try and grab more of Deaver’s books in the future, especially if the next Colter Shaw novel sounds as fantastic as Hunting Time did.