Today I am delighted to take part in the Blog-Tour for Deadly Game by Matt Johnson. Along with the About the author, About the book and my review, this blog post also features a fantastic guest post My First Crimefest by Matt Johnson.
About the Author
Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 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.
About the book: Deadly Game
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 …
Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate. Deadly Game is a stunning, terrifying and eye-opening thriller from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
My first Crimefest – Matt Johnson
As 2016 dawned, I had never heard of Bristol Crimefest so when Orenda Books publisher, Karen Sullivan asked me to attend and take part in a couple of interview panels, I really had no idea what I was signing up for.
I arrived at the Bristol Marriott hotel, checked in to a very comfortable room and then went to register for the festival. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I asked festival organiser how many people we coming. The answer? Five hundred and fifty! I think he saw my shocked look as he then reassured me that there would be know more than a hundred and fifty at each panel!
First evening was spent with fellow Orenda Authors when our wonderful publisher, Karen Sullivan, took us all out for a nice Italian meal. I had the chance to meet and talk to Michael Grothaus, Michael Stanley, Yusuf Toropov, Kati Hiekkapelto and Paul Hardisty.
Returning to the hotel, I began to notice faces that I recognised. Mari Hannah spoke to me (absolutely charming) and Rod Reynolds (looks so young). Then I saw an ‘old friend’ Michelle Davies, who I met in Glasgow in March when we did our very first interviews together. A great catch up was had.
And then it was time for bed!
Day one dawned. Breakfast – full english, of course – as you should always go into battle on a full stomach, and then off to meet the team for the first panel. Pete Adams (hilarious), Daniel Pembrey (young, talented AND handsome) and the wonderful Lisa Cutts. Lisa is a serving detective and – not a lot of people know – her father was my first DI (detective inspector). Lisa and I had spent the previous evening in the bar talking JOB, as coppers often do!
Lisa and I met up with our ‘moderator’ Caro Ramsey. Caro is from Glasgow and turned out to have a very sharp sense of humour. With another natural comedian in Pete Adams, it didn’t take long before they had our audience laughing. Lisa, Daniel and I simply followed where they led.
The hour passed very quickly, and then we headed off to sign a few books.
Then, a very strange thing happened. At 7pm I joined a large queue of people as we headed for the main hall. There were to be announcements, the Crime Writers Association were publishing the long-lists for the 2016 Dagger Awards. I was aware that my publisher had nominated Wicked Game but, well, let’s get real, there are hundreds of entries and some very talented and experienced authors in the mix. As the announcements started, I found myself chatting to some folks so I wasn’t paying as much attention to the stage as perhaps I should have been (guilty m’lord) but I then thought I heard my own name being announced. A few moments later my hand was being squeezed by more people than I could count.
Wicked Game had been long-listed, for the John Creasey New Blood Dagger, along with eight other entries. My publisher gave me a kiss, my phone started buzzing. I was stunned, and speechless. Especially when I realised the text on my phone was from Peter James – news had travelled fast.
That night, I celebrated with fish n chips and a cider, at the Catch22 resturant (very good, well recommended – try the grilled fish) opposite the hotel. I met Mick Heron (Spy novelist) and, as he was also listed for another Dagger, we quietly celebrated together.
Next day, I was on the red-eye panel, the one that starts at 9am, the morning after some people were in the bar until the wee small hours. To my surprise, we had a full house again. This time we were under the guidance of Laura Wilson. On the panel were Sara Ward, Yusuf Toropov, Anja de Jager and a certain Mr James Law, former submariner and the author of a best-selling book by the name of ‘Tenacity’.
Put an ex-navy man and an ex-soldier together and the inevitable happened. First he took the rise out of the Army, then I remembered a navy joke, and soon the craic was well under way. What the people outside the room must have thought of the laughter, I don’t know. What our fellow authors must have thought, I dread to think!
Soon came the time to head home. All too soon as I had made some great new mates and met some fascinating people. I was really quite amazed at how friendly and welcoming the crime-fiction community is.
One thing that is clearly evident is the amount of self and personal experience the author has woven into the story. Writing police and military procedurals means having to do a lot of research and readers can be very nit-picky about the details.
I think Johnson hits the nail on the head when it comes to the bureaucratic idiocy of police and security institutions. On top of that he has the backstabbing ruthlessness of security operatives down to a tee. As long as they achieve their end-goal they are willing to take down anyone. Luckily Finlay is used to watching his back, especially after the events of Wicked Game.
Human trafficking and sexual exploitation is a hot topic at the moment. Finally it seems to be getting the attention it deserves. People often think of it as a problem in third world countries and not as a first world problem. Unfortunately they are wrong it is very much prevalent in most countries. There is an endless supply of vulnerable young girls and women falling into the hands of well structured organizations. A lot of money to be made at the expense of innocent victims.
Finlay stumbles into the midst of one of these gangs, well let’s just say he is pushed in the right direction for the wrong reasons. Under the misconception that he is on holiday to help deal with his PTSD, he is unaware of his status as an unwitting undercover operative. It’s not until he makes a connection to a human trafficking ring that he comprehends he has in fact been used as a pawn by his MI5 liaison officer.
There is plenty more going on, however I will leave that to you to discover. It is a fast-paced story with strong characters and plenty to sink your teeth into. It is a blend of police procedure, action and thriller featuring important aspects of modern crime. Quite the read.
P.S: The author provided all the links (links to Twitter accounts of people he has mentioned) in his guest post My First Crimefest. I just wanted to say kudos to him for doing that.