It has been five hundred years since The Arrival. Five centuries since the governments of Earth agreed to have humanity become the sword and shield for the interstellar races making up The Compact. In that time, Earth science has conquered disease and the mysteries of genetics, mastered interstellar spaceflight, and fought the enemy to a standstill.
But much is still the same as it ever was. Pride, envy, lust, avarice, wrath, and sloth still drive many to engage in all forms of criminal behavior, including forbidden sciences and unethical, illegal experiments.
When the separate worlds of Thomas Hunter and Rachel Torrence collide, their accidental encounter soon sees them unknowingly and unwittingly drawn into a web of deceit, suspicion, and betrayal. Even from those considered close and dear friends. The two of them, having only each other to depend upon, must somehow extricate themselves from the traps and snares set for them.
Failure to reveal the truths they uncover could eventually lead to the end of the human race. But doing so could destroy the lives they have built for themselves. This is especially true for Thomas, who has deep, dark secrets of his own he must protect at all cost.
I have also reviewed these other titles by Robert Leonard:
The Alexander Gambit (Book 1)
The Man Who Stole the Moon (Alexander Gambit Book 2)
Flight of Angels (Alexander Gambit book 3)
‘Hunter’ is a bit different from the works which made me a big fan of the author, but in absolutely no way is this a bad thing. In fact, this novel is competing for current top favorite in my head, both from Robert Leonard and in general.
The opening scene, like in every other book I’ve read from this author, is attention grabbing. The introduction to Thomas Hunter wields a sense of mystery, a feeling that is maintained throughout the story. Quite cliche to say it this way, but yes, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. It is a fast-paced and enthralling work told in third person, switching focus between the four main sets characters until their paths cross.
Those paths are all linked and yet their individual experiences all bring something new to the table. You have the mutants (transgenes) who are trying to flee from the violent oppression of the normals, the military scientist tasked with leading the hunt with her expertise in DNA, a non-military scientist who finally breaks away from the herd to really learn to live (including accepting the existence of more ‘vile’ people), and of course the man for which the book is named, who is of questionably inhuman and illegal heritage that manages to live on both sides of the tracks.
The author has truly thought of everything: history, economics, culture, religion, social issues…which all make for an immersive world, heightened by how all these details are worked in very naturally instead of seeming like an information dump. Equally fantastic is the individual stories of the main characters; there was not a single one I disliked. Each was interesting, genuine, and well-developed; even those whose role in the story were small.
The setting builds upon the futuristic theme of the poor and the delinquent living on the surface while the well-to-do and conforming citizens live comfortably in the tops of skyscrapers. The universe’s intrigue is deepened with a rich history. My personal favorite point was that during the colonizing of other planets, the USA gifted one particular planet to Native Americans as reparation for our ancestors’ robbing them of their lands here on Earth (as well as countless other egregious acts).
Regardless of touching on so much, the page turning pace of the story is never compromised. Each page carried something either entertaining or important (or both) and I could really go on about so much in the book (I feel like I’ve said this about some of the author’s other work too). However, I do try not to spoil anything. All I can say is if you like science fiction, fantasy, dystopian, or even action to any degree, for sure pick this book up. I cannot wait for the sequel to come out!
NOTE: There were a couple other things I wanted to mention, but didn’t know where to work them in during the review. Along with the Native American planet, lore from those cultures was also included. Since part of the story is figuring out what Thomas Hunter is, it was cool to see how that would comply. On that same line of thought, mythos, lore, and religion from the real world in general added a great depth to the book as well as Hunter’s story specifically. Another thing I loved about him was how, being of a different time and place, the sayings he used were lost on the people of the book’s current era, yet perfect for those of us reading today. Even with all these clues (and more), I admit it still took me a while to figure Hunter’s past/existence out. As someone diagnosed with the illness, I thought Rachel’s ‘PTSD’ experience and how Hunter played a part in it was super intriguing; especially how when later on, you can see that Hunter himself exhibits behavior indicative of PTSD.
((Reviews have been submitted to Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million))
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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden
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