Suppose you were adopted at an early age. Suppose you didn’t know, and didn’t really care, whether your birth parents were alive. Suppose you’re Wyatt Hunt. A guy’s guy in your early forties, with your own boutique investigation firm, living in a converted San Francisco warehouse that also hosts your Cooper, Kawasaki motorcycle, basketball court, surfboards, guitars and computers. Life is basically good.
And then someone anonymously asks, “How did your mother die?”
Suppose, when you investigate, you discover your birth mother was murdered and your birth father had been tried for her murder. Twice. And that when he was released after the second trial, he abandoned you. For your own good, he apparently said. But the fact remains he moved on, without you.
How would you feel? What would abandonment do to a guy’s guy like Wyatt Hunt?
This, and more, John Lescroart explores in The Hunter.
Lescroart gives Hunt the almost impossible task of investigating a crime that is forty years old, with very few living witnesses. He then throws more obstacles Hunt’s way, forcing him to pursue the case without much, if any, help as the case claims more lives, evidence eludes discovery, and his body threatens to let him down.
There’s a rule in writing fiction: put your protagonist in a tough spot and then throw rocks at him. Lescroart has a major-league arm.
One of the fun things that Lescroart does in his novels is link characters in one series with the characters in other series. He does this first by setting all the novels in San Francisco and allowing his characters to frequent the same places (such as Lou the Greek’s), and second by bringing characters from one series in to play a small role in a novel from another series. In The Hunter, for example, Abe Glitsky (most often appearing in Lescroart’s Dismas Hardy series) makes a few appearances, linking the Hunt series with the Hardy series. The result is similar to ensemble acting, where any character’s story is part of a larger collective story. Perhaps Lescroart does not have more than one series — perhaps his works all form part of the Hardy-Farrell-Glitsky-Hunt series.
The Hunter has a complex plot that spans more than four decades and crosses international boundaries. Luckily for the reader, Lescroart is an expert at weaving strands of a story seamlessly and making complex plots easy to follow. However, I admit that I had no idea who Hunt’s mysterious tipster was, until Lescroart spelled it out. I went back through the novel, and the clues are definitely there, cloaked in innocence. Either Lescroart is a master at placing clues innocuously, or I need to learn to be a more astute reader. I prefer to believe the former.
This book is a great read. It delivers a strong story, with enough suspense to keep you turning just under 400 pages. And with the added bonus of a protagonist that you will care about and want to follow through those pages.
What would discovery of his abandonment do to a guy’s guy like Wyatt Hunt? Lescroart handles this aspect of the novel very well – before he’s finished with Hunt, and Hunt is finished with the case, Lescroart takes his protagonist apart and slowly puts him back together.
But healing, as they say, is not an end. It is a process. There are hints at the end of the novel that it is not only the healing that will continue, but also the aftermath of the investigation and the desire some may have to silence Hunt and his colleagues, who unearthed secrets that many wanted, and some still want, buried.
The novel will appeal to Lescroart fans because of the story and the fact that it fleshes out Hunt, and makes him a fully-rounded character. Readers who are new to Lescroart’s novels will enjoy The Hunter as well, without missing any continuity from previous Hunt novels.
Read The Hunter. You will be well entertained.