Coming as I do from a background in private security and the police force, people would be forgiven for thinking that my crime writing would be in the form of ‘police procedurals’. That isn’t the case. I prefer to think of the books I write as crime thrillers.
In my debut novel – Dead Men’s Dust – crime is important in shaping the story, but it is more as a nucleus for the action rather than it is a need of the hero, Joe Hunter, to solve the crime. Hunter is a problem-fixer with his own brand of justice. In Hunter’s own words: “I was the weapon sent in when all the planning was done and all that was left was the ass-kicking.”
I came to the crime genre via a different route than many others. Whereas other writers cite their early influences as being Chandler, Hammet, Parker, or even Christie, my reading pleasure was the pulp stories of R.E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. I loved the action-driven stories of Howard – whose Conan the Cimmerian typifies his style – and the weird, dark worlds of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. When I’d devoured all of their work and began looking around to widen my tastes, I found men’s action adventure in the form of Don Pendleton’s Executioner: Mack Bolan, George G. Gilman’s Edge, Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir’s The Destroyer and others. In these books, the hero was a man of action who wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed. In some eyes he could also be seen as an anti-hero, but when studied closer was actually the eponymous man of honour. Such an idea has always appealed to my senses, and when deciding on whom exactly Joe Hunter would be I knew immediately: the gunslinger, the knight errant, the lone wolf samurai warrior. More recent authors have also influenced my writing, primarily Robert Crais, John Connolly, David Morrell and Lee Child. At the core of all of the aforementioned authors’ books, there are men of the same ilk as Hunter: tough guys who will fight against injustice.
Hunter is a retired counterterrorism soldier with the skills necessary to deal with violent criminals. He now works as what he loosely terms a ‘security consultant’, and is someone to call on when normal lawful process has failed. He doesn’t like bullies, or men who harm women or children, and he is ready to show such the error of their ways. Hunter sums up his ethos in his own way: “Some may call me a vigilante. I think I’ve just got problems to fix.”
In Dead Men’s Dust Hunter sets off to the USA in search of his wayward half-brother, John, who was last seen fleeing the site of a gruesome murder. John is on the run from the FBI and mob hit men, but his problems don’t end there. He has also attracted the attention of ‘The Harvestman’, a serial killer with the habit of taking bones as souvenirs from his victims. Hunter, and his old army friend, Rink, must find John before he falls prey to the Harvestman. The cat and mouse chase takes the action across the USA to California and then to a climactic showdown with the killer in a desolate corner of the Mojave Desert.
Dead Men’s Dust is the first in the series featuring Joe Hunter, with Judgement and Wrath to be published by Hodder and Stoughton in October. Further Joe Hunter thrillers will follow at six-monthly intervals.