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Book Review

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Hunt You Down


Author: Christopher Farnsworth
Publisher: Zaffre
RRP: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 78576 311 3
Publication Date: 02 November 2017

Providing contract security and other professional services should be a perfect match for John Smith, Trained in black ops and with the skill of being able to read minds however does come with a personal cost. When a reality show celebrity is gunned down at her wedding Smith is employed to hunt and kill the people responsible, but as the investigation proceeds Smith discovers that what lays at the heart of the dark web can be used to bring to the surface the darkness which hides in man…

Hunt You Down (2017. 349 pages) is a thriller novel by Christopher Farnsworth.

The central character takes on all the tropes of a broken down detective, the black humour, the heavy drinking and the disappointed melancholy of a man who has spent too much time looking into the dark souls of his clients and victims. Smith is not wholly amoral, but we do get the feeling that he has killed and often for money.

When Kira, the daughter of one of his clients, is gunned down at her own wedding, Smith discovers that the killers were motivated by an internet site, Downvote. It’s an interesting notion that a computer site or program can act on large sections of the population to change behaviour and in light of the revelations of possible foreign interference in various elections, using nothing more than Facebook, the central premise of the novel does resonate with events in the real world.

Although Smith quickly identifies Downvote as the thing which motivated the gunmen, he is ill equipped to chase down something as ephemeral as a website on a server. Enter Stack, a reclusive tech billionaire who has his own reasons for helping Smith. Following some revelations Smith finds himself reluctantly partnered with Stack's personal bodyguard, Sara, as the two bunny hop around the globe chasing the elusive Godwin, the creator of Downvote who always seems to be one step ahead of the pair.

So far we are in normal thriller territory. Farnsworth has chosen to imbue his main character with certain abilities. Smith can read minds, if he is close enough to the target, he can also see through their eyes, to get a look at what the other person is looking at. He can also directly affect another mind; mostly this is used to project sensations of pain and injury in order to disable them. Lastly he can create blank spaces in perception, useful for smuggling guns or like Doctor Who’s psychic paper, make people see credentials which do not exist.

There are certain restrictions which Farnsworth has placed on Smith's abilities, the most important is that he always gets a little of the pain and death back, which has him reliant on booze and pills just to get through a normal day.

So do Smith’s abilities add to the plot? In many ways yes. Farnsworth has handled well what it is like to be able to listen in to another’s thoughts, but this also has a negative impact on the overall detecting side of the novel with Smith and Sara being pretty much able to rip their next location straight from their latest victim's mind. It does feel as if the chase, although handled well, is too linear.

That said the writing is crisp and clear and Farnsworth keeps the plot going at a brisk pace. I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would, as Farnsworth keeps enough of the story rooted in reality to make the overall premise plausible.


Charles Packer

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