Here’s my review of James Phelan’s “The Hunted” that I finished this afternoon…
This was the first ‘Jed Walker’, and indeed the first James Phelan book, that I’ve read. The book had a reasonable plot that took some time to unravel and the closing sequences in St Louis, Missouri, clipped past quickly enough to keep me reading to the end. The writing style is plain and simple. Unlike lesser authors in the genre, Phelan did not bog his story down by dwelling on dull descriptions of equipment or tactics.
The overall plot, involving the hushed-up discovery of weapons of mass destruction during the Iraq war, was believable and eventually well described.
When Phelan gets going his action sequences are fast and well-executed. For me, the plot progresses too slowly against his overt use of various ‘clocks’ to try and evoke a sense of urgency. The ticking clocks became too obvious while the characters seemed to move with too little urgency. Perhaps that was because I had not managed to get very involved with Jed Walker or the other leading characters, except for “Squeaker” who was drawn quite well.
On the front cover Lee Child is credited with saying that ‘Jed Walker is right there in Reacher’s rear-view mirror.’ I think that is an accurate assessment – it was a good story well executed, but Phelan seemed to still have some work to do before he could match Child’s storycraft skills. That’s not a huge critcism as Childs sets a high bar.
I’m looking forward to reading some more of Phelan’s books – I’m starting “The Spy” tomorrow and then have “Dark Heart” to follow. I’m looking forward to seeing how his writing develops across the novels.
“The Hunted” scores 3 / 5 on the ‘Cloak & Dagger’ scale.