The Gray Man – Is this the new Jack Reacher?

The latest Lee Child book “Past Tense” has been out for a little whilst now, I don’t think it was Jack Reacher at his best but then I’ve got a lot to compare with as I have read all the Jack Reacher books in order. If you are wanting to do the same then see my list of Jack Reacher books in order HERE.

Is there a new kid on the block?

I’m generally always on the look out for a new character that has similarities to Jack Reacher but also the author must have a good writing style that keeps you interested in the plot, again similar to Lee Child.

This takes me to an author called Mark Greaney. I’ve mentioned his books in another review HERE. Mark Greaney has brought out a character called the Gray Man. The Gray man is an assassin, a person who works in the shadows, no real fixed abode, no friends or family, to most people he is a myth.

Who is the Gray Man?

The Gray Man’s real name is Court Gentry, sent to do jobs that no one else wants to do. An Ex CIA Assassin, he goes in, then achieves his mission, then comes out without anyone knowing. This man is lethal, he somehow always finds a way to win against the odds. He is resourceful and doesn’t seem to have any compassion for his fellow man, go in, kill, let people ask questions later. His use of weaponry is on another level as he doesn’t miss his target. I think even Jack Reacher would have trouble fighting the Gray Man, he uses all the fighting techniques you can think of the only difference between The Gray Man and Jack Reacher is that people worldwide are wanting to kill the Gray Man.

The World of the Gray Man.

As you go through Mark Greaney’s Gray Man series you start to realise that various organizations are conspiring to kill him. He is dangerous and they want to get rid of this asset. When you factor this into the plot, wherever Court Gentry is located, you know that there are other people around him that could be a target. This creates tension and suspense just like a Lee Child Jack Reacher novel. Jack Reacher is similar in that he drifts from one setting to another, not because he is on the run but more that he likes to experience new adventures.

See the world of the Gray Man and what he is up against HERE.

What about the Author?

Lee Child is a brilliant writer, with a unique style. Not many authors can write like him, the scene setting, the fight scenes and the character descriptions make his Jack Reacher books stand out. Mark Greaney is close, he has his own style, each Gray Man book I think contains more action than most Jack Reacher novels and there is always a setting that looks like Court Gentry cannot escape from. There is a high level of detail and description given for each weapon used by the Gray Man. Like Jack Reacher, Court Gentry analyses what steps need to be taken for a mission to succeed but always has numerous back up plans as they both know that everything is capable of changing in at any time. Mark Greaney always starts his books with a set scene, a bit like an entrance trailer for a film, here is the Gray Man and guess what, he is in a tight situation.

What are the books currently out there?

Currently there are 7 books in the Gray Man series. The first book is aptly titled “The Gray Man” and kind of introduces us to Court Gentry. From this first book – you have to read from book one in my opinion, you go on this journey across the world, with various organizations trying to locate Court to end him. Meanwhile, Court is employed to take certain people out and gets double crossed along the way. The order of books is as follows:

1) The Gray Man

2) On Target

3) Ballistic

4) Dead Eye

5) Back Blast

6) Gun Metal Gray

7) Agent in Place

8) Mission Critical


If you are looking for a brilliant series of books that is like the Jack Reacher novels then this is it. Lee Child novels are great, yes we know that, but at one book a year you need something else to fill in your time and this Gray Man series will not disappoint. I would go as far as saying that the Gray Man will become a classic read in the future, which most other books in this genre will be measured to. Some of the torture scenes in the series and clever tracking of our main character are a joy to read.  You are never truly sure if the Gray Man is going to survive.  This is due to the amazing plot and the author’s talent for writing such incredible plots. Jack Reacher may have to move out of the way in the future, the Gray Man is here, book number 8 is on the way – click the picture below to buy now.

Also see my USA and UK books to buy here – HERE

If you have liked my review and want to leave me a comment below, that would be great – we review all good books that are like Jack Reacher and Lee Child novels.

Orphan X – Books like Jack Reacher

I happened to chance upon buying this first Gregg Hurwitz book titled “Orphan X” in my local book store.  Lee Child, the author of the famous Jack Reacher books had left a review on the back page saying the book is outstanding in every way.

If you would like a recap on my initial reviews have a look here ORPHAN X review.

The new Orphan X is available to buy today, see below for other books in the series.  There are now lots of books like Jack Reacher and Lee Child novels.  More and more characters are entering the crime thriller genre with a one man hero, I’ve read a lot of them, some I must admit haven’t made it to my website as I only review good books.  The best characters like Jack Reacher can be found here, it just saves you the hassle of buying a poorly written crime thriller book that is supposed to be like Jack Reacher!

The new Gregg Hurwitz book

The lastest installment in the Orphan X series is titled “Out of the Dark”.  Now judging by my latest reviews, you know I’m a fan of this main character.  Evan Smoak, a hero who seems like the average guy but underneath the average veneer is a killer trained for action.  Evan is a bit like the old Equalizer figure Edward Woodward (remember that tv series) You can buy it here 

After Evan saves someone, he tells that person to give his phone number to another one who needs his special services. He’s a ghost, with justice always on his mind.  If you like Jack Reacher you will love the writing style of Gregg Hurwitz.  A bit like Lee Child in the way that he adds more and more to the main character, explaining why they think the way they do, some slight defects in their character that makes them the way they are.

Is the book any good?

The plot for the latest book goes for the jugular, the President of the United States .  The President has a secret to hide and Orphan X is linked to that secret.  All the Orphans in the Orphan X programme are being wiped out and now Evan decides its time to sort out the leader of this programme once and for all.

What is exciting about this book is the way that this is possibly the hardest task Evan has had to face.  How do you eliminate the most defended person in the planet who has the most power in the world.  Evan also has the small matter of the “Nowhere Man” phone which has someone ready to call when they need help.

I love the way we have our hero also trying to keep and portray a normal life outside of this mission.  Trying to keep in contact with friends in his apartment block and a romance with a neighbour from previous books.  This is where it get slightly different to the Jack Reacher books as Jack never really has much interaction with the same people, he is more of a drifter through society whereas Evan is in a fixed location, in a fortified apartment room with his own intelligence office.

What is good about this book?

Lee Child and Gregg Hurwitz are both great authors, Gregg’s character Evan Smoak really gets you sucked into the book on the first page.  The president is also desperate as he has to rely on another trained Orphan to wipe out Evan so that no one finds out his secret.  The fight scenes are again special, all the skills and gun fights on display for us all to see.  We have great link ups with Evan and a previous enemy Orphan from another book.  There is a really sensitivity with Evan and the person in distress who calls the Nowhere man phone number.  It really feels like this plot is going to be too much for our hero and without spoiling the plot we know he is going to need some help from elsewhere!  I like this idea, Jack Reacher is his own man, a force of nature who deals with things on his own terms, Evan is the same but even though he doesn’t trust anyone, he knows that at some point he is going to need help.

What about Gregg Hurwitz?

For me Lee Child is one of the best writers of crime thrillers along with Micheal Connelly and now Gregg Hurwitz.  The detail, the scene setting, the fight descriptions, the weaponary and the plot endings are superb.  I can’t recommend this series enough,  if you like Jack Reacher books, then you will love the Orphan X series.  I would always advise people to start with the first book Orphan X, this book will get you into who Orphan X is and why Evan wants to stay hidden.  My warning to everyone who starts is to be prepared for late nights, some “NO WAY” moments and maybe some sadness once the you have finished the series.

Also by Gregg Hurwitz – Orphan X series.

Here are the books both UK and US options, buy direct by clicking the picture and let me know what you think in the comments below.


Last Man Standing by Stephen Leather

I sometimes switch between a Lee Child book and another of my favourite authors just because they are written at different times of the year. I realised that I had’t read a Stephen Leather book for a whilst as he was my usual “go to”, once I’d finished one of the Jack Reacher books in the Lee Child series. You can see my last review of a Stephen Leather book here and let me know what you think in the comments box. Stephen Leather Book – TAKEDOWN

Last Man Standing – Any Good?

When an author brings in a new younger main character, you get slightly worried, as there are bound to be comparisons to the character that you first started the series with. This new character Matt Standing is absolutely brilliant. Hard SAS soldier who leaves a whirlwind of destruction behind. If he has to sort something out, he will stop at nothing to defend one of his own. Normally I’d wait until the end of a review to explain why you should buy this book but I’ll just say it now, “BUY IT”!!! HERE LAST MAN STANDING 

Good things in this book?

The plot got me straight away as I finished the book within 4 days of reading (mainly at night due to work). I really needed to know what happened to Matt Standing’s best friend and whether Standing was going to survive until the end of the book. The plot starts with Standing on a mission that goes wrong and requires one of his team to put their own life at risk to protect them. Fast forward and Standing gets a call to say that this same team member (Navy Seal) is on the run from the Russians and the FBI as he has killed some bodyguards and members of the government. As with most of the books like Jack Reacher, this has a fast paced plot that feels like a 90 minute film. From page one there isn’t any dull moments, each page gripping you until the abrupt conclusion. Is Matt’s friend a killer and if so what has made him this way?

Why is this book like Jack Reacher novels?

A one man army who ventures both through the UK and USA creating a storm of deaths behind him. This sounds a lot like Jack Reacher who is known to do the same in the famous Lee Child book series. Matt Standing has a special nack of being in any combat situation and keeping calm, seeing the story play out in front of him and taking the initiative. Whether that is biting someones ear off, shooting someone point bank in the head, he feels like if it gets the job done then he will do it. When you realise he is up against some big players as in the Russian spetsnaz (Russian SAS) and the super rich who can track you at any moment as money is no expense, Matt has to find unconventional ways to try to survive. If you like Jack Reacher earlier books, you will really enjoy the rough raw fight scenes, the gritty dialogue and the character development that takes place along the way between the lead character and an old friend from the SAS called Spider Shepherd who was the original main character that author Stephen Leather started with. 

Is this book better than Lee Child Jack Reacher Books?

I must admit this book is very good, Stephen Leather is a brilliant author and has created a really interesting character in Matt Standing. There are lots of similarities to Jack Reacher in that Standing can look after himself, hates the sense of injustice, investigative and can leave a trail of destruction. He is also very confident in his abilities which is what Jack Reacher portrays when he is up against it. I would say that it is better than some Jack Reacher books, not all of them but up there with some earlier Lee Child novels due to the rough feel of the fights and dialogue.

If you are interested in this book then BUY IT HERE, then please leave me a comment below.


My Name is Nobody – Author Mathew Richardson

Sometimes you get one of those presents at Christmas that you are just not sure about. This was one of those presents, a book by an author that I hadn’t heard of so I just didn’t know anything about it. The title intrigued me though “My Name is Nobody” sounds like a great title for a Jack Reacher book, this was perhaps the main reason why I started to read it!

Who is the main character?

As you know I love a good book with a great main character. This book is no exception, the name is Solomon Vine, a MI6 spy, the greatest of his generation. Now Solomon is not Jack Reacher, not by a long shot. He seems like he wants to go back to his old life, no paranoia, friendships and community but his life as a top spy is where he is at. Isolated, trusting no one, always using counter surveillance to cover his tracks and when he does have to defend himself then he is skilled enough to always come out of any fight victorious.

The one thing that is unusual about Solomon is that he does have a conscience, willing to question the decisions that are made at MI6 headquarters and not always ready to obey his orders. This is one of the things that kept me reading this book, the genre is not really my thing as I kind of like the all action Jack Reacher, Lee Child novels or even the David Baldacci thrillers, so whilst reading this book, the spy genre has now really got me hooked.

Okay – what’s the plot?

The book starts off with Solomon interviewing a top suspect in the CIA most wanted list. Solomon is working with his best friend and colleague Gabriel Wilde, trying to obtain the suspects contacts so that they can stop the supply of fake passports and illegal fire arms. Things do not go to plan and the suspect ends up dead. Blame lies with Solomon, who then gets suspended and the real substance of the story starts to unfold. With underhand MI6 tactics, a conspiracy and a mole in the Whitehall ranks, Solomon must work out who is behind this harmful plot before its too late.  The tension and danger that he encounters is like something out of a brilliant spy film. (See below)

Good points?

I did enjoy the way the author writes the plot, a bit like Lee Child in that it goes back and forth in history, we get to see Solomon’s past, how his life has ended up in MI6 and also his current friendship with Gabriel Wilde. Both main characters are intelligence experts and both have been trained by top agents. Solomon is also still in contact with his old trainer which does give the book a great depth and a link to the past.

As with most spy films, the plot twists and turns and I kept trying to guess who the rogue person was or the mole or whether Solomon was kind of losing the plot due to the demanding nature of watching people and situations for weeks at a time. The brilliantly written descriptive setting, brought me a better understanding of the work needed into bringing suspects of this level to justice.

The ending was also very clever as it flipped the book on its head for the reader – (I won’t spoil this for you!)

Is there any Jack Reacher action?

There are a few fights and close calls with the enemy, on one occasion Solomon has someone counter spying on him and he has to retaliate back to keep off the radar. I feel that if you liked the last Lee Child book titled “Past tense” then you will like the speed of this book as well. Think of it a bit like a journey from the crime through to the conclusion and you are there willing Solomon to work it out and save his career. So there is not as much action as the earlier Jack Reacher books but enough to keep you interested.

Final thoughts

I didn’t realise this was the first novel from Mathew Richardson, so it is a great starter book. I would have liked it to bring slightly more action but again this genre is one that I am quite new to. There are a few occasions where the plot slows down, I think the best parts are when Solomon has to evade capture and the paranoia gets really tense. I liked the description of Whitehall, the London scenery and the characters, overall I would recommend that you buy this book if you are looking into the spy genre.


You can find more about the author here : https://www.matthew-richardson.com/

Click the image below if you like spy films, this is one of the best!


The Ultimate best Characters like Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher Books in Order

I’ve spent a year reading and rereading the Jack Reacher series. I’ve loved every book that Lee Child has written and reviewed them on my website. This has given me the opportunity to check out other books that are like Jack Reacher, other books that have a powerful character lead. These books are real page turners, these books are seriously addictive and these books will leave you wanting more.

My list is based upon the following:

Is the main character like Jack Reacher?

Does the plot of the book grip you straight away?

Are there anymore books in the series that will keep you going throughout the year?

Number 5

Will Robie – Author – David Baldacci

Amazing hit man who you would want on your side in any battle. Great book series that involves other characters’ and brings out main characters’ history.

See the reviews HERE!

Best Book in the series – THE TARGET – 9.3/10

Number 4

Carter Blake – Author – Mason Cross

Brilliant character who finds people who don’t want to be found. The books have amazing plots that keep you guessing all the way through.

See the reviews HERE!

Best Book in the series – PRESUMED DEAD – 9.3/10

Number 3

John Puller – Author – David Baldacci

Physically strong character – combat veteran military. Various plots which include aspects of John’s family. The books have strong plots that are really creative and usually feel like film topics.

See the reviews HERE!

Best Book in the series – THE ESCAPE – 9.4/10

Number 2

Evan Smoak – Author – Gregg Hurwitz

Unusual character – ordinary guy with an amazing hidden skill set – Helping people less fortunate with plots that are really varied.

See the reviews HERE!

Best Book in the series – HELLBENT – 9.4/10

Number 1

Victor – Author – Tom Wood

Ruthless assassin – paranoid and emotionless – intriguing plots, gritty fight scenes and tension built through the books

See the reviews HERE!

Best Book in the series – KILL FOR ME – 9.7/10

Other character to mention are JOE BECK by Author Alastair Brown and JOE REZNICK by Author JB Turner. They may make the list in the future but just miss out due to the top writing of the authors in the top 5. If you like books like Jack Reacher, these are the books to buy.



Get the latest Jack Reacher book by clicking the photo and see my review here!


The New Lee Child Book – PAST TENSE (Jack Reacher 23)

I have taken a little while to write this review of the latest Jack Reacher book. Being a Jack Reacher fan, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t just jump to a conclusion straight after reading it. I wanted to check that after reading 22 Lee Child novels, I didn’t want to confuse previous books in the Jack Reacher series with this book, as we all know Jack Reacher has changed kind of evolved since the first book in the series “Killing Floor”.

PAST TENSE – The Review

After waiting a whole year between reading the last Lee Child book titled Midnight Line – SEE REVIEW HERE, I have had the opportunity to look at lots of other books that have really good strong characters in that are like Jack Reacher. Now my thoughts of the previous book were that it was good, not the best Jack Reacher book but as with any Lee Child book a decent read. This is my issue with the latest Jack Reacher book “Past Tense”, I’ve been used to the old Jack Reacher character, fast paced, act now sort the consequences out later, a guy who was a force of nature in any situation. Now the new Reacher is maybe a tad ponderous, slightly slower pace. Still hard as nails but would rather sort things out by thinking things through.

Now there is nothing wrong with the new Reacher, nothing at all. The book is a great read, the plot keeps you guessing the characters are intriguing yet there is something that seems to be missing from this latest book.

What’s the Good?

The good as is always the Lee Child writing. The classic description of vast land, roads and where they could lead. Even the sense that you are in the open spaces ready to look out and choose your own path whist in the USA. I love this part of Lee Child books, the descriptive characters and the way that they interact, you can almost generalise who these people are without even meeting them.

The plot is also clever, I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet but Jack Reacher is wondering as usual where to go next. He sets out on an road trip across America but doesn’t quite get very far. In the New England woods, he sees a sign to a place he has never been – the town where his father was born. When he arrives at the town, he is told no one named Reacher ever lived there. Straight away you think why would people lie about this? And then you are into the book, clever Lee Child eh!! The other part of the plot is that there is a young couple trying to get to New York City who stop off looking for a hotel and wander into a motel in the middle of nowhere. They then become trapped as their car won’t start and you know that this isn’t going to end well.

Lee Child weaves these two stories together really well and this is what kept me reading as I was interested to know about Jack Reacher and his family heritage.

Is this book like any movies?

If you have read anything on my website before, you already know that I am an action movie fan. I know the books which liken to a movie and this latest book by Lee Child is no exception. Straight away as the plot thickened at the Motel and the young couple became more and more intense, I pictured a film. Jean Claude Van Damme (remember him) starred in a 90’s film titled “Hard Target”. Now Hard Target was a well directed film by John Woo who at the time was one of my favourite directors. The plot of the film is that Van Damme is forced to join a game whereby trained hunters have to kill him. Cue lots of high Van Damme kicks, shocked facial expressions and crazy action stunts. This film and the plot is quite similar to the latest Jack Reacher book called “Past Tense”. Yes watch it and see for yourself and let me know if you agree with me.



What is the Bad?

There isn’t really anything bad in the book, for me the author Lee Child doesn’t really write any bad books. All Jack Reacher books have been either Amazing or great/good. This one doesn’t quite fit into the Amazing category, not because it hasn’t got good parts to it, more the fact that Lee Child has so many top books that this just doesn’t quite reach the heights of some of the others. This is going to happen when you have written 23 books with the same character as we are all comparing each latest one to our personal favourite.

One thing that I found in this book was the pace of the plot. For me it was slightly too slow but this does help with the setting of the various scenes so that we can picture what certain areas and towns are like. We can even imagine what lifestyle the people have just from the pace of the book and the low interaction between certain people in the community. The last section of the book picks up pace, mainly due to Jack Reacher being on the hunt which is really what we all want to read, its maybe that this latest Lee /child book takes a little while to get there.


Great fights, Reacher family history and classic bad guy menace does mean that I like this book. I don’t love it but would buy it as a fan and also as a present for one of my friends. There was a slight air of dissatisfaction once I had finished it, mainly as I knew that it was going to be another year until I got to read another Lee Child book but also because I had put so much anticipation into this that it perhaps didn’t reach my high level of excitement.

You as a Reacher fan will buy the book, lets face it that is just what we do. I just have this slight nagging sense that maybe the game has moved on, Jack Reacher (speaks quietly) may be getting a little old now or maybe I just have too high expectations.

A brilliant alternative book series that I have really enjoyed so far is Victor the Assassin by Tom Wood. SEE THE BOOK REVIEWS HERE

Let me know your thoughts in the comments box below.


Introducing Joe Beck by author Alastair Brown

Remember the 1980’s action films?  Before Jack Reacher came on the scene, before any books like Jack Reacher were available there were films with one hero who saved the day against numerous baddies.  Films like Die Hard with Bruce Willis, Rambo with Slyvester Stallone and one of my favourites Commando with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Commando was about one man who had to go against an army to get his kidnapped daughter back.

If like me, you used to love these type of films, with over the top violence, an easy story to follow and a happy ending then this new book I have read is just for you.  The start of the book hooks you right in, two deaths and Joe Beck at a funeral wondering what had happened to one of his best friends.  A friend who he would call a brother, did his friend commit suicide or was this a murder?

Who is Joe Beck?

He’s a former cop from Nebraska turned unlicensed outlaw private eye, after being convicted for a crime he didn’t commit and spending a year inside the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Unlike other private eyes, he’s effectively a drifter with no formal office or fixed abode, who operates with three things: a cell phone, an unregistered Smith & Wesson pistol and a Smith & Wesson six-inch HRT boot knife which he keeps in a holster strapped to the crux of his leg.

Motivated by nothing other than money and justice for the wronged, he’s part saviour, part mercenary. Basically, an avenger for hire, who you can call up or bump into and try to persuade him to help solve your problems. And, standing an imposing 6’5″ and with a full muscular frame built like the side of a house, he’s not somebody you want to wind up on the wrong side of.
He’s basically the sort of private eye you don’t want looking for you. The kind who shoots first, then asks the questions later. He thinks nothing of beating a guy’s ass for answers or cutting his throat, if he thinks he’s lying.
He survives on coffee, beer, whisky and mammoth portions of meat-based meals. And he has a soft spot for beautiful women and can’t resist helping a damsel in distress. He roams the length and breadth of America seeking out suspects, dishing out vigilante justice and bringing the untouchable criminals of the world to a permanent end and knocking their criminal enterprises onto its knees.
He’s big. He’s bad. And he’s as hard as they come. You’d best hope you’re not the one he’s looking for and you’d better not stand in his way.

As you can see, Joe Beck is just like Jack Reacher, as person that you don’t want to mess with but someone who is fighting for justice in the world.

I managed to get an email chat with Alastair Brown the author of the Joe Beck book titled “Army of One”.  See the whole conversation below.

What inspired you to create Joe Beck?

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Even since elementary school. I would always write stories and win the weekly ‘Super Writer’ award. It’s always been in me, I guess. One day, I just decided to do it and started typing words into a note-taking app on my phone.
At first, It was a collection of random thoughts and happenings, scenes for an action novel with a male lead character. A detective who operated outside the law, followed his own rules and got the job done, no matter the means. Eventually, after a bit of trial and error and a good bit of visualizing and re-visualizing, outlining, planning, writing and re-writing, those words became my first novel – Army of One: Introducing Joe Beck.
I guess the real inspiration for that book, though, was the antagonist. And the seed came from a box of shortbread I saw sitting on the table one day in my family’s kitchen. The title on the side was ‘Chairman’s Collection’ and, without wanting to spoil the plot of Army of One for anyone who hasn’t read it, I saw that title and began to wonder, who’s the Chairman?

What do you want to get out of writing these books?

Obviously, anything is possible. Right? If I ended up writing ten, twenty, thirty books, sold a million copies and had them made into a TV or movie series, then that would be terrific.
But what I’m doing it for is entertainment. My own and that of the readers’. For me, there’s nothing better than hearing somebody say ‘I read that book you wrote and thought it was great.’
At their core, books are a form of entertainment. They compete with just about everything else out there for people’s time, whether that’s against sports, music, movies or browsing the internet. People invest their limited time in return for enjoyment. And to be able to say I’ be given that somebody who’s bought a copy and used their time to read it or read it for free on Kindle Unlimited, that’s my nirvana.

What inspired you to create Joe Beck?

I had read some of the Jack Reacher, Spenser, Jon Reznick, and Harry Bosch novels and really enjoyed them. I also thought I could do this, too. And so I set about doing something with a strong male lead, as that’s what struck me most about those books – the power of the main character.
Initially, while concepting ‘Joe Beck,’ I burned through lots of thoughts and ideas, from doing something about a Texas Ranger to a New York cop. But I quickly realized, if I was going to do the character I wanted, he couldn’t be confined to any particular organization and its bullshit practices and procedures. I also realized, if I set it in one particular place, it would become a bit episodic with recurring similar characters. I didn’t want to write about the exact same people each and every time, so I decided to make him a drifting private eye. That way, I allowed myself the flexibility of being able to write about anything and anywhere.
After I had the premise sorted, I had to come up with a name. I new it had to be something memorable, something cool, something that would stick. I went through a list the length of my arm on that one and narrowed it down to being between four or five I initially liked.
Then, I started thinking about the depth of character. I knew he had to have a plausible background and basically be big and bold, a bit larger than life. Otherwise, why would people take note? A five-foot-six stiff in a suit drifting around and looking into things? No thanks. People wouldn’t buy it. They wouldn’t care. It wouldn’t capture them into suspending their belief and taking them to a reality other than their own.
So, I put a lot of thought into it, drew out what I liked about the characters I’d read before, and just came up with him and his background. Like many authors do, at the core of it, he’s basically me, I guess, given some of his traits and motivations. Except I made him bigger, badder, louder, cruder, and a whole lot more violent than I would ever be. The character actually came before I settled on the name. One day, Joe Beck just hit me. He was originally going to be called something else!
It’s funny, actually. When writing, it’s like channelling an alter ego in a sense. I find myself thinking, OK here’s the scene. What would I really do in this case, then what would I probably do if there were no real world restrictions. That’s pretty much it, I guess, me without restriction of any sort. Not to the sci-fi extent, though, because that would just be silly.
But all in all, it’s great fun.

Conclusion – What other Books is Joe Beck in?

Army of One: Introducing Joe Beck
The first book in the Joe Beck series.
Ex-cop, turned unlicensed outlaw private eye, Joe Beck is in McAllen, Texas, for the funeral of an old friend who took his own life, but winds up being taken hostage at gun point, alongside a prostitute he only just met, by three men he’s never seen before. Three men who know more about Joe Beck’s dead friend than they ought to.
What will happen? What do they know? And how will Joe Beck react?

Payback: A Short Joe Beck Thriller

The second book in the Joe Beck series.
Ex-cop turned unlicensed outlaw private eye Joe Beck meets Brandi Burrows, a brunette bombshell, at a bar in Trinidad, Colorado. She’s slim, tanned and attractive. She has it all. Except, her left eye is horribly blackened, caused by the hand of an abusive ex-boyfriend.
Beck offers to deal with the guy, no questions asked, but winds up getting sucked into handling a local outlaw biker gang.

Easy Money: A Joe Beck Thriller
The third book in the Joe Beck series – Due to be released in 2019
Ex-cop, turned unlicensed outlaw private eye, Joe Beck is in a snowy Detroit, Michigan, hot on the trail of a murderous drug dealer wanted by the U.S. Marshals. He witnesses an unrelated murder on a deserted main street and deals with it in the way he does best.
But his actions don’t go unnoticed.

A fourth book is in the works!
Plus there’s a fourth book in the series, which I’m currently working on, although I can’t give away much more details just yet. But be on lookout for Joe Beck Book Number 4!

As you can see I have read the first book in the series and absolutely loved it.  Jo Beck is just like Jack Reacher, probably more of a straight forward get the job done rather than a thinker but with his skill set he cannot be underestimated.

I recommend that you go and buy this first book and add another brilliant crime thriller book that is like Jack Reacher to your collection.  Let me know what you think in the comment below.


Like Jack Reacher – Carter Blake by Author Mason Cross

The English summer which is usually full of bad weather, some days are slightly mild whilst others are absolutely freezing. This is when I kind of think okay lets get a book and stay indoors as going outside isn’t really an option. However the summer that we just had was off the charts, most days we were waking up to the sun, each day was a total surprise. This new-found summer season meant that I was rather busy, mostly with sun bathing and outdoor activities with the family but also sorting out the garden which consisted of watching the grass and then panicking as I watched it disappear into dust!

I saw that the author Mason Cross had tweeted about his latest book on offer for 99p. Yes 99p which is really a freebie in a way. I thought to myself “hey, why not, what is there to lose”. His last books were really, really good and the main character was like Jack Reacher in most ways. See my previous review here

So here we are in late summer reading the book.

The thing about Mason Cross books

I thought I knew what the main character Carter Blake was like from reading the Mason Cross previous books. He seems to be Mr average in appearance but with an intensity and a problem solving mind that helps him achieve his goals, which is to find people that don’t want to be found. Jack Reacher intense but not so brutal, maybe a conscious that keeps him in check when the need arises. In this book Carter Blake is at a loss from the start. Someone has seen their sister, they are sure of it, one glimpse whilst passing on a bus. No big deal you think, the only problem is, their sister died 15 years ago. Blake is asked to find this person. This thing is, he isn’t 100% sure that she is alive either. Carter is stuck, which I quite liked as Mason Cross delivers a real clever plot by using first person writing so that you can feel the anguish and turmoil in Blakes thought process, not fully realising if he is on the right track.

Is this the best Carter Blake book?

For me I think it is. The plot situated in a Mountain area, a small town with locals whereby news travels faster than social media. There is a feeling of Carter being out of place in this back water area where everyone know each other and they don’t take kindly to strangers. The writing is top-notch from Mason Cross, scenes set to entice you into the drama as you realise death has hit this town and people are paranoid. A serial killer could be on the loose, the deaths start to mount up and the police plus Carter Blake don’t seem to be able to find out who is responsible

I found that what was brilliant about this book was the feeling of not knowing who was responsible for the killings. It made me want to keep turning every page until I found out. Usually you have a slight suspicion when you are reading a book about who the baddie really is. It was a bit like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher in that the writing was cleverly done so that each day is named at the start of the chapter and you can feel the tension build until the very last chapter as the days pass.

Is there any Jack Reacher action?

There is some action, mainly gun fights and the odd outside of the bar scuffle. Tense moments between the police and some rogue cops who think that Blake is treading on their toes. Nothing as gruesome as some Jack Reacher books or the Tom Wood novels SEE HERE!

Final thoughts

Without spoiling the plot for you, I was really surprised by how good this book was. Don’t get me wrong, Mason Cross is a brilliant author but for some reason I couldn’t imagine this topping the previous book I had read “A Time To Kill”. Each character is likable, each scene is descriptive, there is enough action for any reader of the Jack Reacher series. I suggest you go and buy it, then like me you will go onto the next book by Mason Cross. I have already ordered the previous book “Don’t Look For Me”. You can buy it HERE!

On a special note, the ending had me shocked, a bit like if you had watched an old movie (one of my favourites) titled “Usual Suspects”, it leaves you looking at the last page saying “WHAT”!!!!!!
Leave me some comments below – what do you think about this book and the Carter Blake series?


Best crime thriller of 2018 – “Kill For Me” by author Tom Wood

I had been waiting for this book since reading the previous Tom Wood “The Final Hour” in July 2017 on holiday. This summer had high hopes, England were through to the semi-finals of the World Cup, Roger Federer (my favorite tennis player) was through to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and Tom Wood’s new book was out soon.

Then it all went so, so wrong, England crashed out of the World Cup by losing to Croatia, Roger Federer lost to Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon. It was all left to Tom Wood to bring out a book that would be a decent read, maybe even better than the previous book “The Final Hour”.

Victor the Assassin

Tom Wood’s books are all about the assassin Victor. An ice cool hit man who like Jack Reacher has a skill set mainly centered around paranoia as there is always someone ready to kill him. The only way for him to stay alive is to be overly careful, always on the look out for enemies, never going a direct route to his destination just in case. Victor is more vicious than Jack Reacher, he wouldn’t think twice about killing you even if you had tried to help him. In this new book, Victor is a raw killing machine, more so that previous books. He covers his tracks, killing people, if it means that these people may try to eliminate him at a later date if he had kept them alive.

Is this the best Tom Wood book?

This book is the best crime thriller of 2018. Yes Hellbent was top of this list for 2018, this has now changed. Tom Wood has brought in a thriller that keeps you engaged all the way through, right until the end.

Victor is now his own man, arranging contracts through his broker himself rather than working for the CIA to fulfill their obligations. The book starts with Victor looking to purchase a gun, the people who are selling the gun are trying to set Victor up. This leads into a fight, killings and the typical Victor self-preservation instincts.  The scene is set so well, a bit like a western, Clint Eastwood style with an outlaw taking on multiple cowboys.

The main reason why this book is so much better than other crime thrillers is the plot. Victor is tasked with taking down a Cartel drug leader who is at logger heads with their sister (also a Cartel Drug lord) across the city. The problem is the contract is set up by one sister against the other, hoping that when the other sister is killed by Victor, the city will be back to normal and peaceful. This is a family war that Victor is now involved with, outside of his familiar European territory and in a city that seems to have no real laws. Everyone is potentially an enemy to Victor, who can’t blend in as easy, which only heightens his surveillance skills even more.

Is there any action?

The action in this book is intense, from the opening page set up to the final end scene we are treated to gun battles, martial arts, wrestling and genuine skilled assassins trying to kill. One of the double-cross moments in the book is that Victor is meant to be the only person on this kill contract but the person who orders the hit has also without Victors knowledge hired another assassin. This Assassin is exactly like Victor, highly trained, enjoys the kill and ready to get to the Cartel Drug lord before Victor does. As you can probably guess, the new assassin decides to go after Victor as well, so that they can get all the money from the job.

Final thoughts

The pace of the book and the intriguing character of Victor means that for me this is the best book of the year so far. Jack Reacher fans will be able to enjoy this book before the latest Lee Child book “Past tense” comes out. I would argue that Victor is a better character than Jack Reacher as we don’t know Victor’s past yet.  In this book, some moments come back from the past every now and again to make you wonder how he got to where he is but we don’t yet know what made him an assassin in the first place.

The action is hard and gritty, people are shot in the knee, thrown through windows, shot in the back of the head, strangled, drowned, you name it. Guns are described intricately, scenes are laid out so that you imagine you are there in the hot city of Guatemala. I think Tom Wood has brought out all his skills in this book to make every Jack Reacher fan want to start the Victor series.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


Introducing author – Mason Cross

I got a Waterstones book voucher for my birthday.  So without really thinking I went to my local shop and searched around for a decent crime thriller to read.  I scanned the shelves trying to find something that I thought looked good.  I had read all the Tom Wood (Victor the Assassin) books, the Michael Connolly books were all done, David Baldacci done – oh wait what’s this book.  “The Time to Kill” by Mason Cross, ah now I remember, I had read “The Killing Season” before and thought it was excellent.  I had given the book a rating of 9.2/10 which is a top mark, I do think you will struggle to find another book as good.

Is this book like Jack Reacher?

Well, the main character Carter Blake is a brilliant hero.  He tracks people and finds people that don’t want to be found.  I must admit the logo on the front of the book with a quote from Lee Child saying “My kind of book” did help me decide to buy it.  Carter Blake is a clever guy, has compassion for people, uses his military skills to find people which doesn’t always work out easy and does get him in lots of trouble.  He works solo, half the money up front, half the money once the person has been found.  A loner like Jack Reacher, he can plan ahead, well in advance to see what opportunites will come his way in tricky situations.

What is the book about?

The book starts with someone on the run, being chased by professional assassins.  You know the person being chased is also a professionsal but you are not sure why they are being chased and if they survive.

The plot then goes back and forth in time, current day with Carter Blake choosing his new job and seeing how to find the missing person.  Then going back to a time when Carter had a girlfriend and worked for certain under the radar government projects.

What sets the book off plot wise is the clever way Mason Cross writes from the different perspective of Carter and the person he is trying to track.  Then we realise some background tension, that his old under the radar projects are coming back to haunt him, with a specific request to shoot and kill.  Can Carter Blake escape from the best trackers in the world, the people who he used to work for intent on taking him out.  Can he finish the job that he has been contracted to do?  The detail with which Mason Cross writes is brilliant.  We learn about the various team characters that Carter worked for within the past, we also find out about the new head of the secret unit he used to work for and why she feels compelled to shut Mason down.

Is there any Jack Reacher action?

The plot flies by at speed.   Mason Cross uses the plot and speed of writing to crank up the pace as you need to know if Carter will survive.  As we are in the World Cup season and England are doing very well, I thought that I would struggle to read this book unless it had lots of action.  Well I can say there was lots of action, clever twists as Carter has to navigate through surving enemy after enemy.  I didn’t have lots of confidence in Carter staying alive, as he hasn’t the same fighting skills that Jack Reacher has.  He can fight, use weapons and talk his way out of situations, the only thing is these people who are after him are trained and know all the tricks in the book to try and capture him.

Final thoughts

Without spoiling the plot for you, I just generally thought this was an excellent book to read.  I like the Jason Bourne films and did think that this has a similar thread to the movies, explosive action and twists a plenty.

From the very first page I was gripped, I wanted to know about Carter Blake’s history and the project that he worked for. Why was the main agency trying to kill him and what had happened back when he did the projects.  If you are looking for an amazing read that will only take you a couple of days to read then I suggest this book is for you.


Have a look at my other reviews of books that are like Mason Cross, here!  Let me know what you think in the comments box below.