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Book Review

Book Cover

The Hunt


Author: Tim J. Lebbon
Publisher: Avon
RRP: £7.99
ISBN: 978 0 00812 290 4
Publication Date: 16 July 2015

Chris loves the thrill of extreme sports. Having judged himself to be getting old and fat before his time, he discovered the adrenaline rush of pushing his body to the limit. Arriving home after a morning run Chris is confronted by an empty house in disarray, empty except for a stranger. He is informed that his family have been kidnapped and that he has been chosen to be bait in a hunt. Win and his family walk free, loose and they die. Chris’s only hope is Rose, a woman who he has never met, but as the only survivor of a hunt, she has returned to exact her revenge on the people who killed her family...

The Hunt (2015. 364 pages) is a modern thriller from Tim J Lebbon, who is better known for his fantasy novels.

The story literally starts at a running pace as we join Chris on his morning extreme exercise and the pace of the book never lets up. It’s not giving away much to say that he has found himself entrapped by a human hunting club for the rich and famous and at that level the idea of a man on the run for his life would not seem to be a particularly original one, given that the idea is not dissimilar to Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male (1939). There are many differences, but in the case of The Hunt what sets it apart is the cultural milieu in which it is set.

In the case of Household’s novel, this is a man who hunts for hunting’s sake, and does not need to pull the trigger, when he points a gun at Hitler but fails to kill him; he remains the good guy, someone who has made a moral choice, even if there are those who would disagree. For us Lebbon’s novel is set in the post Hostel (2005) where danger and death can be visited upon innocents, just for the fun of it, if you have enough money. This creates a very different social background where power, or your lack of it, can reduce you to a mere plaything, disregarding any morality.

Chris obviously reacts the same way as anyone would, incredulity, anger, bargaining, a veritable gambit of grief emotions. What stops him going completely over the edge is meeting Rose. This is no chance meeting, for a start; she turns up just after Chris’s family have been abducted. Rose, it seems, escaped her hunt and for that her family paid the ultimate cost. What happened to Rose and how she went from a housewife with a murdered family to a terrible angel of death and retribution forms the back-story to the book.

The story then weaves three plot strands together. In one we see what happened to Rose, the other details what is happening to Chris’s family and their ordeal. The main bulk is taken up with Chris in the wilds of the Welsh mountains being hunted. The book chops between these three further enhancing an already insane pace, appropriate to a book whose central character is a speed and endurance junkie.

Lebbon uses his own experience as an extreme sportsman to fill the book with authenticity; we really feel Chris’s accumulated exhaustion, his constant need for food and water, all the time running through the richly detailed descriptions of the Welsh mountainous wilderness.

It is difficult to say that the story is enjoyable as Chris and his family are the only innocents in the book, but it is disturbing, if for no other reason than there is a part of you that thinks that in our morally bankrupt world, this could really happen. Lebbon draws his characters well and they in turn draw you into the story. I defy anyone not to be so engaged that they do not read the book in one sitting.


Charles Packer

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