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Wicked Game

Published Date: 2nd November 2015

Available in

$0

EBook
9781910633427
£5.99
December 2015
Paperback
9781910633410
£8.99
March 2016
Audiobook
B01IUAB1EU
£20.99
4th August 2016

Description

2001. Age is catching up with Robert Finlay, a police officer on the Royalty Protection team based in London. He’s looking forward to returning to uniform policing and a less stressful life with his new family. But fate has other plans. Finlay’s deeply traumatic, carefully concealed past is about to return to haunt him. A policeman is killed by a bomb blast, and a second is gunned down in his own driveway. Both of the murdered men were former Army colleagues from Finlay’s own SAS regiment, and in a series of explosive events, it becomes clear that he is not the ordinary man that his colleagues, friends and new family think he is. And so begins a game of cat and mouse – a wicked game – in which Finlay is the target, forced to test his long-buried skills in a fight against a determined and unidentified enemy. Wicked Game is a taut, action-packed, emotive thriller about a man who might be your neighbor, a man who is forced to confront his past in order to face a threat that may wipe out his future, a man who is willing to do anything to protect the people he loves. But is it too late?

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Terse, tense and vivid writing. Matt Johnson is a brilliant new name in the world of thrillers. And he’s going to be a big name’ Peter James

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‘From the first page to the last, an authentic, magnetic and completely absorbing read’ Sir Ranulph Fiennes

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‘What shines through in Wicked Game is its authenticity – something perhaps only a former member of the armed forces and police (and Matt ticks both of those boxes) could achieve. I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel even though I was reading outside my usual genre. This is my quote that appears on the book, and I stand by every word: ‘Out of terrible personal circumstances, Matt Johnson has written a barnstormer of a thriller. Nothing is clear-cut in a gripping labyrinthine plot, which – despite thrills and spills aplenty – never fall short of believable’.’ David Young (author of Stasi Child)

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Wicked Game has been selected as a featured title for March by LoveReading

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UK Thriller Debut for April by LoveReading

Crime Thriller Hound Book of the Week

Wicked Game is an AirTours Top Summer Holiday Read

Author

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 1992, 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. Matt is currently working on a sequel, Deadly Game.

Website: www.mattjohnsonauthor.com

Online Reviews

‘Books of the Year: 5/5 stars! A real cracker of a book and I have no hesitation to give it five stars. I look forward to reading more books from this gifted writer’ Bookworm

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‘An action thriller of the highest order that deserves to be read widely. It is hard to believe such an accomplished work is a debut.’ Never Imitate

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‘Despite having read hundreds of thrillers, it’s rare to find one with this level of authenticity and with some real passion behind the writing, and that’s what ultimately helped me to connect more with the characters, because of how real they felt and how believable their stories were. I would describe Wicked Game as a thriller with a heart, and the story behind it and Matt’s own experiences are what makes it beat’ Book Addict Shaun

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‘A gripping and quite frantic story of espionage, misplaced loyalties, revenge, retribution and double-crossing. With twists and turns, and red herrings at every corner, Wicked Game is an impressive debut’

Random Things through my Letterbox

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‘The case is so intriguing, full of red herrings and twists, highlighting years of service by Finlay and his team, the trail of potential enemies left behind. This is in some ways a spy novel, with tantalising glimpses of M15 and Home Office interference. Above all else, though, Wicked Game is a tense, exciting thriller that presents the gigantic effort of Finlay to keep his family safe, trying to rediscover physical and military skills long put to rest, and facing seemingly insurmountable odds. The ending is stunning!’ For Winter Nights

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LoveReading Choice!

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‘Talk about a kick ass novel. From the very first page, I was shocked into holding my breath. It reads like an action movie but with all the bubbling tension in-between, some of it so quite and subtle that Matt lulls you into a sense of false security and then BANG! he thumps you, shocks you, jolts you into submission before doing it all again.’

The Book Trail

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‘This book oozes authenticity – I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much, and I’ll certainly be reading the follow-up promised at the end. It was a look into a world which was completely alien to me, and one which a lot of us take for granted – that men like Robert Finlay, and his younger equivalents, will be there for this country in times of trouble. And when barely a week goes by without us hearing about terrorist attacks somewhere in the world, on behalf of some cause or other, it reminded me of the thanks and respect these men like Matt Johnson – some of whom pay a heavy toll; some of whom pay the ultimate price – are due from us.’ CrimeWorm

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‘The sheer dogged determination of Robert Finlay provides one hell of an exhilarating ride, as he dodges bullets, explosives, and the shadows of his past, in this Wicked Game of cat and mouse. Expect nothing less than a thrilling journey, where secrets and revenge are delivered with guts and precision and the stakes are as high as they get – Finlay gives new meaning to the SAS motto of “Who dares, wins“’ Little Bookness Lane

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‘It’s this first-hand experience of these terrible events (more of which you can read about in Matt’s guest post on crime thriller girl’s blog) which really gives Wicked Game an unshakeable feeling of authenticity which is woven deep into the fabric of the story.’ Espresso Coco

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‘I’ve always been a fan of thrillers, with the build up of tension, the action packed heroics and insane bravery. Wicked Game is a stonkingly accessible British thriller, with its roots firmly set in recent UK history and a strong sense of authenticity running through it. Although it takes a while to get going, it soon holds your attention to the max.’ Northern Crime

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‘The story itself is a complex web that the police, security services and Finlay himself are all trying to untangle. It is never clear who can be trusted and what agendas they are trying to move forward, except for Finlay whose fight for survival we follow most intimately through his own thoughts. The tension takes hold early on and never lets up as the danger gets closer to home and Finlay realises that only he can secure his family’s safety as he is forced to face his past up close and personal.’ Live Many Lives

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Guest post by Matt Johnson in Writing.ie ‘PSTD to Publication’

Debut spotlight, Shaz’s Book Blog

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‘But there’s more than just that insider knowledge and attention to details at play here and it’s that which makes Wicked Game well worth a read – Matt Johnson has a very real talent and gift for thriller writing. Wicked Game cracks along at a great pace with plenty of gripping and original plot twists and turns with a finale that wouldn’t be out of place in a book with a protagonist called Reacher.’ Mumbling About Music

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‘I’ve got to be honest: Wicked Game is not a novel I would normally pick up. I think we all have ideas of ourselves when we walk into a bookshop; I tend to head for anything looking quirky and a bit obscure, a bit Iris Murdoch. So I’m really glad that I was asked to read Matt Johnson’s debut novel. Not only did it totally destroy my pretentious, narrow-minded idea of what I ‘should’ be reading, it also allowed me to become more familiar with PTSD’

This Little Bag of Dreams

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‘Johnson has written a brilliantly multi-layered narrative that has a great plot, engaging characters, and although I knew the story, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it again. The original book was my very first Book of the Month and the new and improved Wicked Game absolutely gets my seal of approval, for what it’s worth. Johnson is an incredibly skilled writer and I cannot wait to read and review the sequel, Deadly Game.’ Segnalibro

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This gripping debut novel is set in 2001 and contains a lot of dramatic action which refuses to let up. I loved the main character Robert Finlay, a strong, determined yet resourceful policemen who would do anything to protect his family. The novel also uses many flashbacks of Finlay’s military past which I found as a reader gave me a better understanding of his character and evoked a lot of empathy. I found the vivid descriptions and settings really brought the novel to life for me, making it feel like I was right in the action. This is a breath-taking, debut novel which will have you on the edge of your seat.’ Thrillers, Chillers & Killers

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‘Wicked Game builds the tension in an intelligent and emotional way, has many layers to both time, place and sense of character and is basically a top notch “thriller” that has a dark heart and an emotional soul. It is not a book that will be read and then forgotton – this one will stay with you. As such it gets the highly recommended tag from me and in my “most anticipated” stakes the follow up to Wicked Game is somewhere high up my list. Excellent, thought provoking, clever and beautifully written.’ Liz Loves Books

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Brilliant piece in the Irish Times by Matt Johnson

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‘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.’ Lorna Sixsmith

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‘His experience as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years brings a huge wealth of knowledge into his intense and vivid style. However, it also led to post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) which eventually, through therapy, crystallised as a cathartic discovery of a passion for writing. With his first-hand real life experience Johnson has an understanding of what was going on in the minds of his friends, superiors and even terrorists. This is translated into excellent psychological portraits of the main characters. Facts mixed with fiction and unclear boundaries between both are basis for moving authentic narration and brilliant storytelling’ Crime Review

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‘Wicked game is an absolutely brilliant new thriller. The writing is so authentic that you forget this is a story. It feels as though it is real life that is being described as Matt Johnson navigates the intricate hierarchies and rivalries of the police, the army and the Security forces with consummate ease. The plot is fast-paced, twisted and exciting.  Finlay is a man who is prepared to break all the rules to protect his family, but he is also a very human and likable person.  I can’t praise Matt Johnson and Wicket Game too highly’ Promoting Crime Fiction

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‘Wicked Game is a chilling, exhilarating thriller, written by an author who clearly knows what he’s writing about. Matt Johnson served as a soldier and a police officer in London and witnessed terrorist atrocities first hand…The result is a thriller that lays before us a cat and mouse chase with the deadliest of consequences. The book combines the first person narrative of Finlay with the third person perspectives of Grahamslaw and the terrorists. This works extremely well.’ For Winter Nights

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‘More importantly, the novel possesses the unrelenting pulse of a thriller. Every five pages there’s an explosion, a chase, a mysterious encounter. On every page tension is carefully built, as a portentous revelation is offered or a memory smothered. Johnson litters his tale with the plotting equivalent of incendiaries: cops we don’t quite trust, a career that came abruptly to an end, a secret needing to be kept … Gripping stuff’ New Welsh Review

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‘Well don’t you just love it when you start reading a book like this and you know, you just know that this author has seen more than his fair share of action! It is on another level not just the technical stuff but that raw gut feeling, the adrenaline rush of how it would make you feel in that situation. Well this is it. Matt Johnson delivers characters that feel pain, emotion and fear. There are some pretty sit on the edge of your seat moments because you know certain events are unstoppable and you can’t avoid what will happen. A cracking book right to the end.’ From Dusk till Dawn

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‘Fall headlong into a gripping and absolutely cracking story, featuring an ex-SAS, turned Met Police Officer, battling for his life. This is the first in the ‘Robert Finlay series’ and the debut novel by Matt Johnson, who has experienced one hell of a career himself … Johnson turns his knowledge into the most fabulous and readable story that just zings along with authenticity and exhilarating attitude. I’m excited to be in at the start of what promises to be a fabulous new series, and honestly can’t wait for the next!’ Love Reading

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‘Overall I found the novel to be a great crime thriller which required a lot of research into the military and their procedures and practices to be executed to this extremely high standard and I would recommend to lovers of crime, thrillers. Even if you don’t normally read this genre like me give it a go because I guarantee you will love it.’

For The Novel Lovers

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From the first page through to the last the reader is completely hooked and drawn in by the writing and the descriptions, this is such an absorbing and thrilling read. The authenticity of the writing, and the knowledge of what happens in particular situations raises this above other thrillers. This is really a case of the writer having been there, done that, got the t-shirt, his experience searing through the pages. Experience and knowledge always trumps research, because one has been there and the other can only talk about it. Wicked Game really does give you, flash, bang, wallop and like bullets no words are wasted but hit the target every time. Matt Johnson is a new name in thriller writing and with his brilliant writing we have a new star writer.

Library Thing

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What I particularly liked about this, and I don’t really read many thrillers of this type, is how Finlay is an older male who is settled down with a wife and child and is feeling his age a little. He’s not some fit, handsome superhero. He’s an ordinary man, who has made career choices that have put him in extraordinary situations, which in turn have led him down a path where he has to face difficult decisions. It’s this normality about Finlay that appealed to me and kept me reading. The believability of the story. The authenticity. Even if you don’t normally read this kind of book, I’d really recommend you give it a try. You won’t be disappointed. Rebecca Bradley Crime

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The writing is direct: facts and histories stated, not left for the reader to pick over: there isn’t time to stop and sift the finer aspects of motivation – to do so would only slow the plot. That style of writing may not be to everyone’s taste but it becomes a real strength in this book as events cascade, ruthless killers spill into the open, and the agencies who should be tackling them are far less united and coherent than one might expect … You’ll enjoy this book if you’re into thriller and action: even if you think you’re not, the pace of the writing will carry you away. Robert Finlay’s not a man who gives up easily

Blue Book Balloon

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I had completely forgotten that the novel wasn’t set in present time, sadly terrorism is everyday news and I found at least one part of this novel very upsetting. It is quite graphic, especially at the beginning when he is describing events in Ireland. But there is also some humour and a great feeling of loyalty and friendship. I found Wicked Game a great book to read, one that shows how rewarding it is to read something a little different. Stephs Book Blog

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‘The life experience of Matt Johnson made Wicked Game real for me. It made me feel like I was reading an autobiographical piece of work. His first hand experience of counter terrorist operations and police work shows all the way throughout the novel giving it a level of authenticity par with the likes of Andy McNab and Chris Ryan. And the end … well, it is immense!! It’s left me desperate to read the next instalment … I need to know what life will throw at Robert Finlay next!’ Page Turners Nook

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‘Johnson creates a stellar character in Robert Finley. When the novel opens, he is just your everyday guy, but then once his past is revealed, he becomes so much more complex! He is sort of an anti-hero type and as his past and present actions are revealed, I found myself rooting for him. After reading this book, I cannot wait to start reading  Deadly Game and am expecting some big things…no pressure or anything.’ Clues & Reviews

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‘That’s all down to Matt Johnson’s amazing writing. Quite obviously, he knows what he’s talking about and it adds that extra level of authenticity to the reading experience. This would make an excellent movie or tv series. (Preferably with Richard Armitage in it. Just saying’.)  I could see scenes play out right before my eyes. Such a thrilling ride. Wicked Game is tense and dramatic. Highly intelligent and adrenaline fuelled, with some fabulous plot twists. I doubt I’ll be waiting long to read the next one in the series.’ Novel Delights

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Matt takes part in an interview with the Sunday Times

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Reviews