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Book review: Hunt You Down by Christopher Farnsworth

When you have the rare telepathic ability to read peoples minds, your adversaries hardly stand a chance
When you have the rare telepathic ability to read peoples minds, your adversaries hardly stand a chance

When you have the rare telepathic ability to read people’s minds, your adversaries hardly stand a chance…

But has former CIA operative John Smith finally met his match with an elusive criminal mastermind on the dark side of the web?

Hunt You Down is the second book in US author Christopher Farnsworth’s heart-pounding and offbeat thriller series which began with Killfile and stars a maverick troubleshooter whose psychic powers were honed in a government experiment to develop ESP in a select group of agents.

Now working as a private contractor, Smith is a man for all seasons whose sometimes unethical exploits are steeped in an entertaining and addictive mix of violence, high-octane action sequences, the darkest shade of black humour and white-knuckle suspense.

Farnsworth’s perfectly balanced blend of genres guarantees a rollercoaster ride with a man whose mind-reading antics ensure there are no dull moments, and whose bare-faced bravado leaves readers hardly a moment to draw breath.

As a fixer for America’s ‘one percent,’ John Smith cleans up the messes of those rich enough to afford him. But he is no ordinary gun for hire. Smith is a psychic who has lived ‘with other people’s monkey-chatter’ echoing in his brain all his life.

Arriving at the wedding of Kira Sadeghi, a reality television celebrity he recently saved from kidnappers, Smith witnesses a group of gunmen open fire, hitting the bride amongst others. Although he is unarmed, Smith cripples one of the killers and is able to prise one word from his mind… ‘Downvote.’

Eager to learn more, Smith hacks into the brain of an FBI agent investigating the attack to discover the bureau has been probing a deadly new threat called Downvote, an encrypted website on the ‘dark net’ that lists the names of celebrities and offers a hefty bounty for anyone who can kill them, unleashing an anonymous and deadly flashmob with a keystroke.

Finding a mastermind on the internet is like trying to catch air… unless you are John Smith. Motivated by money and revenge, Smith – accompanied by Sara Fitch, a scary but smart female bodyguard – traces a series of electronic signatures to a reclusive billionaire living at sea.

The hunt for their prey will lead from Hong Kong to Reykjavik to a luxury gambling resort deep in the Laotian jungle. Yet always this evil mastermind remains one step ahead. The only way Downvote’s creator can stop Smith is to kill him…because while this elusive genius can run, there’s no hiding from a man who can read minds.

Despite his extraordinary paranormal gifts, Smith is still a pleasingly plausible hero and Farnsworth’s mind-reading plotlines offer plenty of scope for darkly humorous interludes and the chance to spring the most devilish surprises.

With a sprinkling of romance in the shape of the delectable Sara, a clever, fast-moving plot, the thrill of an intriguing psychic seam and a riveting dénouement, Hunt You Down is in serious danger of being consumed in one sitting!

(Zaffre, paperback, £7.99)