Though The Hit List
addresses the old chestnut of the military professional who cannot escape his true calling, it's got a solid backbone derived in no small part from ex-SAS author Ryan's explicit knowledge of death-laden situations. Armed with the vivid technical detail that raw experience provides, danger leaps off the page, evaded only by finely tuned intuition and training, rather than by some well-worn cliché. This is marvellously evident in Neil Slater, the ex-SAS serviceman whose chances at a peaceful life are shattered when he is approached by elite assassination squad "The Cadre", who have use for his anti-social skills in dispatching "enemies of the State". Slater is under no illusion of what he is, comfortable in the "Darklands", despite the psychological difficulties it causes him. More than a emotionally-barren, pain-thriving superman--Slater bleeds, he suffers, but all the time he is the battle-honed professional. As such, he is a perfect vessel for Ryan's hardened brand of realism, thrust into situations where each act of violence is measured to provoke an exact response:
Slater shot Pasquale through the top of the arch of his right foot. The pain, he knew, would be extreme...and the shock would be sufficient to break any resistance immediately.
Such realism is accentuated by Ryan's use of real-life figures, with the late Robert Maxwell's plot-pivotal appearance being chillingly appealing as well as being an excellent hook, given his conspiracy strewn legacy. Another hugely enjoyable offering from Ryan, whose fluid translation of his adventurous past to gritty bullet-paced fiction offers a feast for the reader who craves a glimpse into an underworld of intrigue and extreme violence. --Danny Graydon
"A helter-skelter adrenaline rush...gripping." -" Irish Independent "Plenty of insider knowledge on SAS covert procedures." - "Yorkshire Evening Post "Heart-in-mouth action." - "Mirror