Deadly Game – Matt Johnson #blogtour

Deadly Game A/W.indd

Alongside the amazing Ronnie at RonnieTurner, I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour today for Deadly Game. Written by Matt Johnson, it is the second in the Robert Finlay series. Deadly Game is published by the lovely Orenda Books.

Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed.

Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all …

Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate. Deadly Game is a stunning, terrifying and eye-opening thriller from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

My Review: I would like to thank Matt Johnson (author) and Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books (publisher) for allowing me the opportunity to read Deadly Game as well as taking part in the blog tour. I can confirm that all opinions in this review are my own and are completely unbiased.

Arrrrrggggghhhhh … 5 stars is not enough!!!!!

Starting with an interim report surrounding the events that occurred throughout Wicked Game as well as those during its almighty explosive ending, Deadly Game begins where Wicked Game left off.

With having the blog tour booked, I couldn’t jump straight in with Deadly Game (it’s the second in the series and that would be wrong), therefore I read Wicked Game (the first in the series) first then carried straight on with this. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been watching an all out action film series. It was just bang, bang, bang!! Chapter 88 blew my mind … I was not expecting what it threw at me. It hit me square in the chest!

Throughout Deadly Game, Matt Johnson’s authentic writing continues on from Wicked Game and with his ‘been there and done that’ attitude it sucked me in and grabbed me AGAIN, refusing to let me go until I’d finished the last page. Every single chapter is full of energy with a vice on every page, and with the overall cat and mouse chase, I was finding myself forgetting to breathe at times.

For anybody wanting an action packed, fuel filled, explosive read … Deadly Game should definitely be on their shopping list. In fact, it should be moved to the No.1 spot as that’s where it deserves to be and like me throughout the novel they’ll be sitting reading whilst all the more thinking ‘Good God’!!!

I just hope there’s more of Robert Finlay to come.

Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, 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. His bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, was the result. Deadly Game once again draws on Matt’s experiences and drips with the same raw authenticity of its predecessor.

Today I am very lucky to be interviewing ex soldier and cop, Matt Johnson as part of the blog tour for Deadly Game.

Hi Matt, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? It would be fair to say that I came to writing quite late in life. It would have been nice to have started younger, but I left school to join the army and, after that, was pretty tied up pursuing a career in the Met police. I worked in a number of differing roles and at a time when Irish Republican terrorism was very prevalent. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, the operations I was involved in and the experience I gained was building the knowledge I now draw on in my writing.

What are your ambitions for your writing career? I keep an entirely open mind on that as I’m already surfing something of a perfect wave that I suspect may soon come crashing down in an explosion of froth. I do have a hankering to see one of the books made into a film or TV series, if only to see what the professionals in that industry make from the characters. I would also like to see the stories I have sketched out – novels for the future – appearing in print as fully polished books. And, I have one rather odd ambition. I enjoy singing – it’s the Welsh blood – and I’m a great fan of Annie Lennox. I would love to have her read and enjoy my work and then offer me the opportunity to sing a duet with her!

So, what have you written? I’m working now on a third novel, a thriller to take up the baton following my debut Wicked Game and it’s sequel Deadly Game.

What is your most recent novel? Deadly Game, published this very month by Orenda Books.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? The main protagonist in both books is Robert Finlay, and I hope he’s unlike any cop you will have ever met. Finlay is an ex-Army special-forces officer, but he’s not an all-action hero. He’s a thinker, a strategist, a planner. And he has his own resourceful ways of getting things done. Finlay is also very committed to his family, putting their welfare and security first in his thinking. But Finlay is blessed with the ability to be resourceful, to look at problems and to come up with potential solutions that don’t occur to his policing colleagues. As such, he’s something of a one-off, a headache to his senior officers, but someone they nevertheless respect.

What genre are your books? Not an easy question to answer, as both books cross the generally accepted genre definitions. Some might suggest they are police procedural and, given my career background, it’s a fact that I am able to write about how policing works with authenticity. Others have described the story as a spy thriller, or a terrorism thriller. Whatever your take on the genre, it would say that both books are tales about family secrets, about betrayal and revenge, but with a strong leaning towards the security services, military and police. It’s the world I know, and which I am comfortable writing about.

What draws you to this genre? Familiarity. I’ve read that writers should either write about lives worth reading about of live a life worth writing about. Hopefully, I’m doing a little of each. I spent twenty-five years in this world. Although it is changing all the time, I still retain enough knowledge to tell a decent story.

When did you decide to become a writer? It came about quite by accident at a time when I was receiving treatment for PTSD. My counsellor asked me to write about my experiences, feelings and symptoms as part of my therapy. One day, almost casually, she commented on how much she enjoyed my writing and had I ever thought of writing a book. I hadn’t, but the seed was planted.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I don’t have a special time, but I do write better after lunch. I’m not a particularly good morning person, so I tend to start the day by walking my dogs, attending to emails and catching up with the social media. I don’t write every day, but once I get going I tend to set a minimum 2000 word target. On a good day, I can write much more and really get into the groove. But other days, distractions get in the way of plans. I’ve learned not to worry about it, so long as the story is actually progressing. Pauses can create an opportunity to re-assess and, often, I might have an idea that improves the original plot.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? As mentioned above, I don’t.

Where do your ideas come from? A combination of experience and an overly furtive imagination!

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? I had no outline at all when I wrote Wicked Game. I simply told a story, then tweaked and adapted it as I went. That changed with book two. I adopted a more considered approach, but not so conceived that I had the whole story planned. I still let the tale develop, with just a few chapters ahead being planned. With book three that has changed again, and the chapter plan is longer. That said, the characters haven’t yet told me how the story will unfold or end. I have an idea, but I’d wager that will change.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? Stephen Fry once posed the question if you write your first novel in a month at the age of 23, and your second novel takes two years, which have you written more quickly? He went on to explain his opinion that it is the second. In his words ‘The first took twenty-three years and contains all the experience, pain, stored-up artistry, anger, love, hope, comic invention and despair of that lifetime. The second is an act of professional writing. That is why it is so much more difficult.’ My first novel was over fifty years in creation, and took over ten years from idea to first draft. My second took a little over two years. That said, I’m now more aware of publishing timetables and demands, so I’ve set myself a target of twelve months for book three.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? Since starting to write, I have made an effort to read more than I used to. Now, I’m not just reading the story, I’m looking to learn how writers more skilled than me use words to express such things as feelings, experience, environment and action. When you add the skills and talent of an amazing editing team, I would say that my writing has evolved from it’s raw origins through to a more polished style.

Do you read much and if so which writers inspire you? Not as much as many, and not as much as I should. In any given year I probably only read about four or five novels and a similar number of research/non-fiction works.

What is your favourite book and why? That’s a really tough question as I have very eclectic taste. In recent times I’ve really enjoyed Claire Mackintosh, Amanda Jennings and Louise Beech’s work. In days gone by, I was a fan of James Herbert, Gerald Seymour, James Pattison and Lee Child. But, one book that always springs to mind is Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks. That’s a hard one to top.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Birdsong, of course. But for other reasons, I wouldn’t mind having been the writer of ‘Star Wars’.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? I’m so new to this world that any advice I come up with should be read with that in mind. However, there are a couple of things I have picked up in the last year. Firstly, to be aware this is a market where things are changing rapidly. The days are gone where the only way to achieve publication success was by persuading a literary agent to represent you. Nowadays, there are very many routes to seeing your work published. Do your homework, identify them and work hard to achieve your goal. But bear in mind, once that goal is achieved, you cannot sit back and relax. If you do, the world will move on and you will face having to catch up once more. Second, and at least as important – particularly if you self-publish – get your work proofread by someone who does it professionally and be careful who you go to, there are some charlatans out there. I messed up when I started and, after my first self-pubbed work was criticised, I was lucky enough to find Sian Phillips from who has been instrumental in polishing up my work and to whom I am greatly indebted.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Facebook: click here
Twitter: click here
Amazon Author Page: click here
Goodreads: click here

If you would like to follow the Deadly Game Blog Tour, you can do so at the following dates:



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