Title: Hard Road
Author: J.B. Turner
Publisher: J.B. Turner
Publication Date: 3 March 2015
“Sometimes, to protect what you care about, you need to operate outside the law…”
Since his wife died on 9/11, Jon Reznick has worked hard to keep his shadowy world hidden from his eleven year-old daughter. But when he’s ordered by his handler to assassinate a man in an exclusive Washington DC hotel, he discovers the target is not at all who he at first appears to be. Quickly ensnared in a web of murder, extortion and treachery, Reznick finds himself fighting to outwit not only the clandestine group intent on hunting him down, but also to evade capture by FBI Assistant Director Martha Meyerstein. But it’s not only Reznick’s survival that’s at stake. A terrifying plot by a foreign government to bring the United States to its knees is underway. And only Reznick can stop it.
I was expecting a lot from this book. It’s marketed towards fans of Vince Flynn, Lee Child and Brad Thor while other reviews of the book claim that it is similar to Mark Greaney and David Baldacci. Considering that those five are all in my top 10 favourite authors, I was expecting Hard Road to be right up my alley.
Having read the book, I can see where the comparisons come from because the main character Jon Reznick is cut from the same cloth as those he is often compared with. However I don’t feel the book was quite on the same level as those written by Child, Flynn and Greaney. It has the same fast-paced and action-packed plot but it doesn’t have the same level of polish.
Hard Road is the first instalment in J.B. Turner’s spy thriller series featuring assassin Jon Reznick. The story begins with Reznick being sent in to “clean up a mess” only to find that he has stumbled upon a case of mistaken identity. As the story evolves, Reznick’s daughter is dragged into the fold and he must save her while also trying to solve a terrorist plot.
The book contains everything you expect from the genre. It has a lone-wolf main character with a shady background, a credible and interesting terrorist plot and a lot of fighting, shooting and explosions. Reznick is a strong character and his backstory is fleshed out pretty well throughout Hard Road but there is still a lot to learn. There is even a hint of romance in the book that I wasn’t quite expecting and I am interested to see how Turner expands on that and on Reznick himself in the next book.
The main reason that I say that Hard Road is not quite to the same level as the heavyweights of the genre is because I don’t think Turner has quite found the balance between the action and the plot. What I mean by this is that I felt that Hard Road got too bogged down with dialogue through the last two thirds of the book. Especially through the middle of the book, the scenes with Meyerstein focused too heavily on dialogue and as a result I felt I was being told what happened rather than being shown. The very best are great finding the balance between the need for those types of scenes with the need for action scenes and I feel Turner just missed that balance.
My other complaint is that the book contains too many characters. While it probably is accurate that the FBI would have hundreds of analysts working on a serious case like the one in the book, it doesn’t really make for good reading. When you have names thrown at you from left, right and centre, it becomes difficult to keep track of who is who outside of the main handful of characters and that detracted from my enjoyment of the story.
Worth a read? If you enjoy the action-packed stories of Flynn, Thor, Greaney, Coes or anyone else who writes in the same style but are also interested in the behind-the-scenes way that government agencies respond to terrorist threats then Hard Road would be worth a read for you.