Hunter: A Thriller by Robert Bidinotto

Hunter: A Thriller by Robert BidinottoHunter: A Thriller by Robert Bidinotto
Narrator: Conor Hall
Published by Robert J. Bidinotto on 9/13/12
Genres: Suspense
two-half-stars

Story: C+
Narration: B+

The Plot:

A series of vigilante killings have grabbed headlines in the Virginia/D.C. area. Of even more interest is the fact that with each murder, a recently published newspaper article that exposes how the victims of the murdered criminals were failed by the justice system is left on the body. Dylan Hunter, the journalist responsible for the articles, is a man on a crusade to expose the failings of a system that releases criminals to re-offend. When he attends a victim support group, he meets Annie Woods and the two begin a romantic affair.

Annie is a security officer with the CIA. After the Agency traitor she uncovered is assassinated right in front of her, she vows to find the ‘mole’ responsible for giving away the location of the safe-house he was stashed in. As her life begins to intertwine with Dylan’s, the threads of their separate causes start to overlap.

My Thoughts:

Hunter is a vigilante thriller with good pacing, an interesting and hyper-capable protagonist, and a dose of romantic elements thrown in. Overall, this was a decent listen although there were some areas that I struggled with.

The biggest stumbling block to my full enjoyment of this audiobook was the impact of a tendency to tell rather than show. In terms of the justification for vigilante action, there were multiple scenes that provided an information dump with an accompanying dose of moral outrage that explained why the criminals targeted by the vigilante killer were worth inclusion on his list of targets. When justification is presented in that fashion rather than by allowing me to simply “see” the precipitating events as part of the plot I often feel like I’m being hit with a big moral stick rather than reaching my own conclusions. That lack of subtlety and the simplification of good vs. evil affected my reading enjoyment. Symptomatic of this push to give the reader a conclusion rather than leading them is the way even the musings of the protagonist move from singular to a plural that seems intended to include the reader:

He had enrolled in that world of untruth as an eager volunteer. It had been for a vital cause: to protect his country and its people. Because our enemies use clandestine and covert methods against us, we would be insane to handicap ourselves and risk our very survival by foreswearing such measures in self-defense.
 
There’s a difference between deception and treachery. Sometimes, we must use deception to protect the innocent from evil.

 

My second area of discontent was a particular sex scene that seemed out of context and where I feel the following bit of dialogue didn’t meet what I assume to be its intended goal:

He grabbed the back of her hair. Pressed his lips into light contact with hers. His eyes, so close, bore into hers.
 
“You listen to me, Annie Woods. The one word that’s forbidden when we’re in bed is ‘no.’”

 

Dylan’s alpha/uber-male status had been established by that point and if the sudden inclusion of a scene dealing with sexual consent was intended to entice or titillate readers whose reading includes erotica that deals with power dynamics, it would have been more effective to build to it rather than dropping into the middle of an otherwise rather pleasant love affair.

From a plot standpoint, I wasn’t sure how the opening few scenes, which immediately grabbed my attention, would tie into the story (other than introducing Annie) but they eventually folded in nicely. As the story moved to Dylan’s perspective, I was intrigued by the turn the story was taking and the slow reveal of how it all was going to tie together. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding Dylan’s past and the explosive reveal of it.

While the vigilante’s identity wasn’t shocking (and I assume the omission of his name or immediately identifying information about him during his scenes was to build suspense as to his identity),  the scenes from the his point-of-view were engrossing and the tension surrounding whether he would survive each encounter (let alone get away with it) was ably evoked. The range of weapons employed and the creativity when setting the scene for the discovery of the bodies added to the strong pacing of the book.

Dylan and Annie are multi-dimensional characters and I was able to connect to them and their emotional turmoil. The interaction between Dylan and Annie, their increasing attraction to one another, and the secrets each kept from the other added a dollop of tension. If you’re not set on teasing out a path through a moral quagmire, Hunter holds its own in the vigilante sub-genre of thrillers. Although the inclusion of romantic elements should broaden its appeal to a larger audience, I actually would have preferred a straight thriller.

The Narration:

I enjoyed Conor Hall’s narration and, given the skill displayed, was rather surprised to find that this is the only listing under that name at Audible. Mr. Hall has a deep and resonant voice that is pleasant to listen to. He’s a perfect example of how even a narrator with what I’d consider a bass voice can deftly use slight pitch changes to give female characters completely believable voices in the context of the audiobook. His character differentiation was excellent – including tone, cadence, and occasionally accent variations in addition to the standard pitch alterations – and his delivery of the primary bad guy was particularly effective. He pushed the ‘teeth-gritted/hard-boiled’ voice a little too far for a couple of the characters, giving them a noir-like feel that I found unnecessary but he clearly has a facility for vocal characterization and I hope to hear more of his work.

Disclaimer:

I received this audiobook from the author at no cost to me and with the expressed expectation that my review would be objective.

two-half-stars

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