Target by Simon Kernick is an easy read. It’s a fast-paced thriller and is fairly typical of the genre. There were a few noteworthy things about it.

Firstly, loads of people died. I know it was a thriller about a psychotic hitman, but still. It did feel like there was a bit of red-shirt syndrome going on; any new character introduced was likely to be dead shortly.

Secondly, there were only two female characters, one of which was the kidnap victim and who never gets any screentime. The other was a detective who start off with a good role, gets kidnapped and it seems like she’s waiting to be rescued. In the end, she rescues herself which I was happy to see but for a long while she was taken out of the story. Also the violence against the two female characters was depressingly sexualised.

And lastly, the author killed off the first person narrator. He’s not the only POV character and I question the use of both first and third person POVs in the novel; it’s somewhat disjointed. This was a surprise and I found it a brave move. It was thoughtprovoking but I’m not sure how I feel about it. The fact that the antagonist had killed so many characters by this point did contribute to a response of ‘oh really, another killing?’

Anyway, it was ok. Problematic in places and patchy technique, but good in the things that make a good thriller. I might pick up another of Kernick’s books next time I’m looking for brain candy floss.

Then I read Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman by Frances Stonor Saunders which is the biography of a fourteenth century mercenary, Sir John Hawkwood. It was less biography than an exploration of a moment in time hung around the structure of one man’s life. It was fascinating.

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