Blood and Ashes, Blood Tracks, by Matt Hilton
For the first time since this site began, Rebel Voice has taken the unprecedented step of providing two reviews from the same author in the one article. The author is Matt Hilton and he has been reviewed previously by this blog. His previous efforts were acceptable. However, in Blood Tracks and Blood and Ashes, Hilton has not only dropped the ball, he has taken a shotgun and blew the shit out of it. The ball is dead.
In Blood and Ashes, we meet Joe Hunter, a former British Special Forces soldier turned assassin. Hunter moves about the US righting wrongs and generally waxing lyrical about his own wondrous morality. He resembles a very poor man’s Jack Reacher but, whereas Child can write, Hilton cannot. His passages are over-elaborated and contain a great deal of nonsense about Hunter’s principles and scruples. This is repeated ad nauseam.
The story is related in the first person where Hunter is concerned and moves to the third person for chapters about the other characters. Hilton’s one of the few authors who uses exclamation marks in his writing. As Joe Hunter is an immensely tough guy, it’s strange to see him express himself using such punctuation during his internal monologues. It doesn’t fit.
We are treated to a novel that goes so far over the top that it falls flat on its face on the other side and breaks its nose. Hunter regales us with how tough it is to be ‘one of the good guys’. He goes on and on about the moral dilemmas that he faces as he kills. Don’t misunderstand, this is not deep psychological internal dialogue and reasoning. It is utter cac. It could have been penned by a 12-year-old having a bad day.
The storyline is also dire. Neo-Nazis allied with North Koreans – now there’s a combination – attempt to unleash a major dirty bomb in New York city, from the Statue of Liberty no less. It would be laughable if you hadn’t already spent time getting to that part of the story. The entire book was an exercise in futility that should embarrass Hilton, but likely won’t, as no one who understands shame would have written anything that odious in the first place.
In Blood Tracks, we meet Po, an ex-convict from Louisiana, and Tess Grey, an ex-cop from Portland, Maine. They are thrown together during an investigation into a major drugs czar from Bolivia of all places. With his vilifying of both Bolivia and North Korea, Rebel Voice began to think that Trump scripted these novels, but then again, Trump wouldn’t vilify neo-Nazis as they form a large part of his support base. Plus, Trump can’t write.
An undercover cop has been brutally murdered and a key witness has gone into hiding. Po and Grey set off in pursuit as the drugs cartel do likewise. There are deaths aplenty in this novel, including the reader’s interest which collapses around chapter two.
Sadly, the plot is as boring as former British PM, John Major. The characters are so one-dimensional as to be transparent. The dialogue is mawkish, childish and wooden. The locations are decent but described badly. The writing in this novel is atrocious. There are speculations and suggestions and sentimental insights running throughout which are then countered with more of the same. This makes Blood Tracks virtually unreadable. Rebel Voice was forced to browse, as the brain cells that would have died otherwise are in too short a supply to squander on such tripe. It really is that bad.
The research on both novels appears to have been non-existent. Rebel Voice got the impression that Hilton’s first few novels achieved moderate success and so he put less care into those that followed. Blood and Ashes came out in 2011, and Blood Tracks in 2015. It seems that Matt Hilton’s writing might be getting steadily worse.
Rebel Voice will not go into further detail of the plot of these two books as, quite frankly, it would be an unnecessary consumption of precious time. Suffice it to say, this site has no intention of ever reading or reviewing another book by Matt Hilton.
All of this does raise a number of questions. Firstly, why did Hilton’s editor not make suggestions for changes to the plots? The errors are so obvious that a blind donkey could have spotted them. That said, Hilton has ultimate responsibility, and both books read as if they were self-published in an extremely lackadaisical manner.
The second question is, how in god’s name did Matt Hilton ever attract a publisher? Novel writing is an exceptionally competitive business. It’s difficult to make that initial breakthrough. Yet, somehow, a writer with mediocre skills has managed to get a number of his novels published. Perhaps there’s a swinger’s club where agents and publishers go to shag, and Matt Hilton is their gimp? Perhaps not.
In any event, if you wish to read a gripping thriller with great dialogue, strong characters and intriguing storyline, then stay the hell away from Matt Hilton as his books will put you off reading, you might even end up in front of the box watching Love Island instead. Rebel Voice shudders at the thought.
Sult scale rating: 2.5 out of 10. The 2.5 is recognition for the author’s success in convincing two separate publishers to go public with his awful writing. He should sell second-hand cars.