Review published on June 6, 2018.
Judd is a former failed Navy SEAL now working for a dead-end job in banking. He was busted out of the SEALs after a training accident where he gunned down his training sergeant, a legendary SEAL who somehow survived the shooting only to now be pensioned off due to his injuries. Needless to say, Cleaver, the former training sergeant, holds Judd responsible for the premature end to his stellar career. Cleaver has moved to be near Judd and torments him, despite this, the two are kind of friends having weird and dysfunctional relationship. Judd has met Catriona, a Scottish girl, online. They speak everyday by video link, though they’ve yet to meet in the flesh. They share a love of cycling, something Judd has taken to fanatically to work through his guilt. When Catriona invites him to Scotland, he has little hesitation in abandoning his job and flying half-way around the world. But is everything all that it seems? Certainly, when Cleaver finds out he doesn’t think so and thus decides to follow Judd on his journey.
I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but this a chilling read. I’m not a fan generally of serial killer fiction, but if you know anything of the famous British case of the Moors Murders then this will bring you out in chills. The author is American and so I don’t know if he’s done much research into Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, but from what I’ve read, the psychology he describes in The Cyclist matches those two exactly. Judd on the other hand is an appealing protagonist and one who suits the story perfectly. He’s not some superhero commando, the likes of which populate many a thriller, rather despite his military background, he’s vulnerable and not a little naive. That said, when the chips are down, his military training holds him in good stead and he has just enough of the right stuff to see him through. It’s a balancing act that the author performs with some panache and the result is a believable protagonist.
Anthony Neil Smith is to my mind an underrated writer. I’ve read some of his stuff before and it’s always been very good. Yet for some reason not many people I know are aware of him. I hope The Cyclist helps him gain the success he well and truly deserves, for like previous books of his I’ve read, The Cyclist is a riveting read.
James Pierson 5/5
The Cyclist by Anthony Neil Smith
Bastei Entertainment B07B9XQ134 audiobook May 2018
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