"The Tracker" Book Review
Written by Tony Jones
Published by Black Rose Writing
Written by John Hunt
2018, 182 pages, Fiction
Released on March 1st, 2018
If you start a novel on Saturday and finish it the following day, in my book, that guarantees a big five HorrorTalk stars. It is totally exhilarating taking the plunge on a book you know nothing about, never having read the author before, with mild expectations, but then find it so damned good it is near impossible to put down. Make no bones about it, John Hunt’s The Tracker does exactly that. In 182 pages of pure horror pulp, it knocked me out, and that’s very hard to do.
I’m going to deliberately limit details of the plot, as giving unnecessary spoilers is very easy. The best way forward is to approach it the way I did, and that’s by diving in totally blind. The novel opens with a guy called Taylor walking into a police station to hand himself over to the law, as he knows the police are hunting for him big time. During his interrogation it is revealed he is the chief suspect for four brutal murders. Much of the first half of the book is told via the interrogation between lead detective Owen and prime suspect Taylor, who of course claims he did not commit the killings. He does admit he was present when all four occurred, and to the police looks guilty as sin. The book then enters flashback mode and Taylor’s retelling begins takes us back to the recent death of his mother when a sinister shadow begins to stalk him. Once the shadow takes a human form, a terrifying game of cat and mouse between this supernatural being and Taylor kicks off. Of course, nobody believes him.
To say anything more specific about the plot would ruin the surprises, and there are plenty of those on offer. It really is a book of two halves, both of which are equally great. I thought I knew where the second stanza was heading, but was completely wrong footed. Although the violence is sporadic, some of the kill scenes are particularly brutal, realistic and handled beautifully by the author without any kind of unnecessary glorification of the violence being played out.
When the massively overweight Taylor, and size is a key element of the story, is being relentlessly stalked by The Tracker of the title, it did remind me a little of the film ‘It Follows’, as the creature always knows where he is. Read the book to find out why. Before long Taylor is running for his life and the balance between flashbacks and the sequences in the police station are well constructed as the body count increases.
The Tracker is a very easy and addictive novel to read, and I’m sure in the right hands could be turned into a terrific low-budget film. It’s neither deep, long, or over-complicated and in its 182 pages, throws the kitchen sink at the bruised reader with plenty of fun twists along the way. You’re not going to have to think too much, but I still enjoyed the ambiguity on offer as it hurtled towards its conclusion, and that’s the beauty of this type of page-turning entertainment. In my old age I’ve got squeamish when it comes to body violence, so I don’t ever want to hear of bolt-cutters, a live rat and a bucket in the same sentence again, that was truly nasty. And I mean NEVER EVER AGAIN. This is brutal pulp horror, told with a clever plot laid on a plate for hungry readers looking for a fast fix, which I am delighted to award five blood soaked stars. I’m going to have to investigate John Hunt further. I’m already sold and have already bought his debut novel Doll House.