Top positive review
Another light plunge into espionage, murder and mayhem
Reviewed in the United States on April 12, 2020
A few years ago I found a late author by the name of Helen MacInnes, who began writing in the 1940s during the war. Really enjoyed her books (except, as often happens, the one where she tried to break out of her normal) and read them all. It was all about, as Wignall's books are, spies, killers and the like. She had a formula which, like many other successful writers, she used over and over again, but each different enough, so that you enjoyed them one by one and looked forward to the next. I don't know if this is what most authors want to do, but it is apparently what the publishers and the public wants. Me too, I guess, for the most part. That's why series, where it is the same hero each time, are so popular.
I have now read four of Wignall's books. One was a little different, a takeoff on I Know What You Did Last Summer, which he acknowledges in the book. That (Among the Dead) was a really good book too, although with a vague ending that left me unsatisfied. But the other three were all part of a formula that he does very well, and which formula it seems he uses in most if not all his other books. And, the Hunters Prayer, was probably the best of them so far for me. It's important to me that I like the protagonist, although I can appreciate a good anti-hero too, as long as not too dark or too edgy. And, although I admire the prowess of those who write about guns or some other technical thing, say, Stephen Hunter, I am often relieved when an author just calls a gun a gun and leaves it at that. Guns don't fascinate me except as a plot device like any other.
And there are some other things I appreciate about Wignall. It is a different hero each time, even if similar. He doesn't really write Reacher books, which is what I call all of those books I read and so often enjoy, where the hero is a virtual superhero, the best shot, the best fighter, and able to seduce beautiful young women within a unrealistically short time, even if they are otherwise virginal. Don't mistake me, Wignall's heroes are very good at their job, or it wouldn't be exciting and do improbable things too, just not to the same level as a Reacher or James Bond (both characters I love). I guess it's just refreshing for characters to have some humility or uncertainty, even if we know where it's heading.
In any event, I suspect I will gobble up every one of his novels rather quickly, as so far he hasn't failed me. Some people apparently give five stars to any book they liked a lot and maybe that's we are supposed to do. I reserve five stars for books like The Lord of the Rings, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, you know, classics, or something really different or outstanding, for the most part (I have violated my own rule at least once), because I feel there should be a distinction between really good and great (Amazon should use a ten star system). So, this could be a five for someone else.