HarperCollines, 24 November 2022
Available as: HB, 432pp, e, audio
Source: Advance e-copy
I'm grateful to the publisher for an advance e-copy of Hunting Time via NetGalley to consider for review.
It's great to meet Colter Shaw again. The Restless Man sorted out his family problems - which involved murderous corporate goons trying to kill him - and is back here doing what he likes most, moving along, saving the innocent and claiming reward money (when he remembers to actually cash the cheques, that is). In Hunting Time and so he's rolled into the industrial town of Ferrington in his mobile home. But this time he may be taking on more than he realises.
Ferrington is a shabby, rust-belt town - it can't even afford an adequate police department anymore - with a proud manufacturing past, plenty of decaying factories, and a poisoned river. A new startup promises to bring jobs with its small modular nuclear reactors, but its IP is being targeted by sinister forces and then the star engineer disappears. Can Colter Shaw help, please?
What follows is an entertainingly wild chase through the woods featuring gangsters, a vengeful ex, crooked cops and a particularly sinister pair of "triggermen" who have designs on more that Allison Parker and her teenage daughter Hannah's lives. As ever, Shaw's survival skills are indispensable, the more so as modern conveniences - guns, food, shelter - are stripped away. However Hunting Time is in many respects a more pared down story than previous Colter Shaw novels. Shaw is not, directly, trying to solve a complex mystery. (Though he does do that towards the end, and when he does you'll see things in a new light, but that's almost incidental). Rather he has simple goals - finding and rescuing the two women.
That made Hunting Time, for me, a very focussed story, a very pacy and entertaining story. There is though more to it - the delicate exploration of the Parker family and especially the mother-daughter relationship, Shaw's allowing himself to become romantically involved again, and the grim background of the anti-hero, Jon Merritt, are all done with a great deal of humanity and sympathy. That more than makes up for a couple of late, shock revelations which were perhaps just a shade unlikely.
The story is told form several different viewpoints - Shaw himself, the two triggermen, Allison, and Jon. Each has part of the truth, but the pieces don't seem to fit together and what you understand will be affected by who you trust. With plenty of red herrings and some of the characters basically conflicted about what's happening, it's very hard to work out who to trust at all.
All that, and hints that Shaw may be on the fringes of a wider, international plot trading in industrial secrets (perhaps something that Deaver will tell us more about in a future book) make this a must-read for the his fans.
For more information about Hunting Time, see the publisher's website here.