by Matt Johnson
Matt Johnson’s Deadly Game is the second book in the author’s Robert Finlay series of crime thrillers. The first - Wicked Game, also a 5 star read - is reviewed here.
Robert Finlay is suffering PTSD, a legacy of being in the Armed Forces, and not helped by a recent attempt on his life. He has had a liaison officer from MI5 assigned to him and his family, who had also been provided secure accommodation. Jenny, Robert’s wife, is worried about his safety but he’s being lined up for a return to work, not that anyone seems to want him. CID consider him a liability. He certainly should be aware that bad guys from his previous endeavours are more likely to recognise him spelling danger.
To return to work Finlay is assigned to a new taskforce within The Met investigating sex trafficking. The unit is looking into how the women are forcibly brought to the UK by an Eastern European gang who make them work as sex slaves. Finlay, along with his able and supportive new partner DS Nina Brasov, Finlay finds himself facing the ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the trafficking. It’s not long before Finlay and Brasov are put to work on the discovery of a murder victim after a key prosecution witness is killed, adding further difficulties in the case.
Can he stay safe long enough to take them down? Life would be easier if Finlay didn't suspect some of his own colleagues might be keeping things from him.
Robert Finlay loves his family, respects his colleagues and is a likeable guy. The short chapters entertainingly switch between Finlay's first person narration and others’ third-person narratives. The author brings first-hand insight to many of the organisations and services he writes about, and also the handling of the PTSD. So, while this is a fast-paced thrill-fest, it also reeks of authenticity.
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.
Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all… Picking up where the bestselling Wicked Game left off, Deadly Game sees Matt Johnson’s damaged hero fighting on two fronts. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate.