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. 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 SAS regiment, and a series of explosive events makes it clear that he is not the ordinary man that his colleagues and new family think he is. And so begins a game of cat and mouse in which Finlay is forced to test his long-buried skills in a fight against a determined, unidentified enemy.
Robert Findlay is a highly trained army professional. Not so much front line as logistics, he has seen more than his fair share of combat, including some very dangerous exploits. Now though, he has found what he most treasures in the world – a wife he loves and a beautiful daughter. So he decides to leave the Royalty Protection Team for a job in the police force that will allow him to spend more time at home and which will be altogether less stressful.
Just as the soldier who shows his mates a photograph of his family whilst under fire in the trenches inevitably is the next to die, so you know that Findlay isn’t at all likely to achieve his longed for peaceful life.
But this is no cliché, rather Wicked Game has a depth of characterisation and Findlay has a back story that is well thought through and bristles with authenticity. Matt Johnson has taken his knowledge of the armed forces and his experience of policing and has put together a convincing and engrossing plot that thrills to the core.
Findlay is a reliable first person narrator, and the book switches between the first and third person narrative. Though army and SAS books would not normally be my first port of call, this book is so much more than it’s setting. Full of intrigue, inter- forces rivalry and unreliable characters, the tension really does ramp up as you read it.
When Findlay begins to suspect that his ex colleagues are being targeted, he knows that soon he will be on the target list and he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his family safe. But who, if anyone, can he trust?
Wicked Game is a satisfying fast paced read that is full of dramatic and explosive moments. A thoroughly good read.
Wicked Game was published by Orenda Books on 1st June 2016
About Matt Johnson
Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, 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. His bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, was the result. Deadly Game once again draws on Matt’s experiences and drips with the same raw authenticity of its predecessor.
(Also, his bees make excellent honey!)