Top positive review
39 people found this helpful
on 27 December 2012
The latest compelling action thriller from Chris Kuzneski, the first in a new series, has a great if not exactly original basis to work with. The Hunters are an 'A-team' of experts in heists, espionage, weaponry, technology, martial arts, history and languages, who have been assembled to undertake an improbable mission (or Mission Impossible), and yes, there's the tough female figure, the crazy joker, the smart charmer, the computer nerd and the solid reliable military veteran who make up their number. So no, not an original idea, but one that can work well if handled properly and Kuzneski is more than capable of that.
There are a couple of things that make this work well on the page as opposed to a CGI-packed action blockbuster movie. For a start, Kuzneski can write well enough to allow you to visualise the action in glorious High Definition. He creates a good historical context for the adventure in The Hunters, the assembled team being sent out to Russia and Romania on the trail of the missing Romanian national gold and treasure reserve, supposedly transported by train to Russia just before the Great War. At a time when Russia was undergoing great internal upheaval however, the whereabouts of the missing treasure is now unknown. To find it and retrieve it - when there are other mysterious and dangerous agencies looking for it as well - will require the combined efforts of experts across a range of disciplines.
That's where The Hunters comes into its own. It takes time to develop a team of characters with distinct personalities who between them combine a healthy balance between disciplined organisation and humorous unpredictability. There's also some moral ambiguity in who they are working for and their motivations for helping themselves to part of the national treasure of Romania. All this helps maintain some degree of credibility even as it knowing plays around with the conventions of adventure fiction, mixing myth and history to good effect in a location like Transylvania. The same kind of credibility doesn't really apply to the dark organisation of villains they run up against who, even if they have a realistic historical background as a cult founded on adherence to a mystical figure, are kind of cartoonish villains, but it's exactly the kind of highly dangerous colourful adversaries that the story needs.
It's the make-up of the team however that needs to be right in order to bring you back for more. Some of the characters are more developed in this book than others, but that just leaves room for the talents of the others to be brought out in the following mission, and chances are you'll have so much fun here that you'll definitely be looking forward to the next one after reading The Hunters.