Book Review: Wicked Game by Matt Johnson

I first read Wicked Game as an ebook, probably 2 years ago, when Matt had self-published it. It has now been published by Orenda Books and Matt kindly sent me a paperback copy. We’ve had lots of chats online about publishing and marketing books and I was looking forward to reading it again.

Wicked Game

I didn’t notice many changes at all (although there were many months of adjusting before publishing it with Orenda Books) but I do find it’s a very different experience reading a paperback to reading an ebook. While I like to try out new authors via my kindle and will often buy books when they are on special offer and then decide if he/she is an author to watch and read more of, I far prefer reading paperbacks especially if I find it to be a gripping read. I was discussing this recently with someone and we came up with the comparison of how a wine should taste exactly the same but there’s a huge difference between drinking wine from a nice wine glass or a mug and I kinda feel the same about paperbacks / ebooks. I miss the sense of knowing how much of the book is left and looking at the % read just isn’t the same at all for some reason. Anyone else find that? I also tend to read my kindle books late at night and yes, do fall asleep reading so perhaps the kindle books don’t get quite the same concentration as the paperbacks.

So did I enjoy it more this time? I enjoyed it immensely – whether that is because I prefer reading hard copies or just because it’s a great book, I’m not sure. Wicked Game is a stupendous thriller and you don’t have to look too far to see that others think the same as there’s many testimonials from well known and respected writers inside plus it has over 350 reviews on Amazon.

This is a fast paced thriller with excellent characterisation. Robert Finlay has left his SAS days behind, having made a lot of enemies that would be happy to see him dead, including the IRA. The Irish connection in this was particularly interesting. Even though most of us lived with hearing about the Troubles on the news as we grew up, it’s easy to forget just how bad it was in a way and this brought it back, the threat to many people was very real. Someone is trying to kill Finlay – is it the IRA, or an Iranian connection or an unknown? He doesn’t know and neither do the readers so it’s a real page turner.

There’s a definite sense of this being a memoir, particularly in the first half of the book. Matt was a soldier and police officer for many years, he experienced seeing colleagues killed, suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and writing became part of the healing process. There’s an immense sense of authenticity within these pages which makes it a thriller with a difference. In my opinion, it makes Matt’s book stand out in this genre.

I particularly liked the character of Jenny, Finlay’s wife. Although she doesn’t feature hugely throughout the book, she’s a full-bodied character, plucky, brave, determined and I hope we see more of her in the sequel Deadly Game which will be out later this year I believe. I’m looking forward to it already and yes, I’ll be getting the paperback!


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