2001. Age is catching up with Robert Finlay, a police officer on the Royalty Protection team based in London. He's looking forward to returning to uniform policing and a less stressful life with his new family. But fate has other plans. Finlay's deeply traumatic, carefully concealed past is about to return to haunt him.
A policeman is killed by a bomb blast, and a second is gunned down in his own driveway. Both of the murdered men were former Army colleagues from Finlay's own SAS regiment, and in a series of explosive events, it becomes clear that he is not the ordinary man that his colleagues, friends and new family think he is.
And so begins a game of cat and mouse - wicked game - in which Finlay is the target, forced to test his long-buried skills in a fight against a determined and unidentified enemy.
Wicked Game is a taut, action-packed, emotive thriller about a man who might be your neighbour, a man who is forced to confront his past in order to face a threat that may wipe out his future, a man who is willing to do anything to protect the people he loves.
But is it too late?
Welcome to my spot on the Wicked Game by Matt Johnson Blog Tour. Wicked Game was published by Orenda Books on 15 March 2016.
I'll start by saying that when I read the blurb for Wicked Game, I was unsure as to whether this book would be for me. I'm not the target market, and whilst I enjoy thrillers, I've never been compelled to read the SAS / Army type novels that are very popular. However, Wicked Game is published by Orenda Books, a small publisher that I trust, so I hedged my bets, and took a gamble. That gamble paid out - I won, the book won, Matt Johnson won and Orenda won! Wicked Game took me completely by surprise, it's a compelling, page-turning, heart quickening read and I enjoyed every moment of it.
Robert Finley is returning to uniform policing after years as a Royal Protection officer, it's been a tough job, always on-call, fraught with danger and stressful. Not that Robert can't cope with that, for he served for many years in the SAS and was heavily involved with fighting the IRA, and the siege at the Iranian Embassy. But he's older, he's now married with a small daughter, and it's time to take things a little easier.
Ah, the best laid plans, and all that .... Suddenly, policemen are being killed. Car bombs, drive-by shootings, even an suicide bomber in India. At first it seems like these are random attacks, but it isn't long before Finlay starts to make a connection - these guys were all his former SAS colleagues, and somebody is after him next.
What follows is a complex and tense story involving the Government, high-ranking Police and Army officers and a bunch of terrorists who are determined to get their man. Whilst the story is very complicated, Matt Johnson is a very skilful author and is able to tell the tale very eloquently. His descriptive prose and his very accessible terminology enables the reader to follow the story very well.
Matt Johnson's voice is authoritative, he has obviously drawn much of this story from his own life, and this adds an authentic voice to what is a gripping and quite frantic story of espionage, misplaced loyalties, revenge, retribution and double-crossing. With twists and turns, and red herrings at every corner, Wicked Game is an impressive debut, and I am delighted to hear that the author is planning more for Robert Finlay, let's hope it's soon!
Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent's Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People's Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital.
Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition.
Wicked Game was the result.
Matt is currently working on a sequel, Deadly Game.
Find out more about Matt Johnson at www.mattjohnsonauthor.com
Follow him on Twitter @Matt_Johnson_UK