Tom Wood has created himself a particular type of hero. A trained killer, an assassin and hitman. He is ruthless, relentless and very resourceful. His name is simply Victor, although he has many other aliases and identities. Even though he kills people for a living, he does it on behalf of the good guys, ridding the world of thugs, war criminals and people we are never going to like. We are, therefore, always on Victor’s side. He is the good guy, or perhaps more accurately, the least bad guy amongst a host of really bad guys.
A Time to Die is a great story, and the thing that I like so much about this type of book is the pace and the energy. Things are always moving quickly and you are always on the edge of your seat. I like Victor because he is utterly meticulous and calculating in everything that he does. He cannot afford to let his guard down for a second, and especially not in this book. Someone has a contract out on his life at the same time as he is trying to find and eliminate a former Serbian war criminal who has evaded the authorities for the last six years. Victor plans his travel to avoid being followed and his accommodation to be safe from an assassin’s bullet. He doesn’t sleep during the hours of darkness, when his safety is most vulnerable.
The thing that makes A Time to Die successful is that events simply don’t always go the way that Victor wants. He has to constantly adapt and although we are confident that he will probably make it through to the end of the book, it is good to see that not everything goes to plan.
Victor’s target is based in Belgrade, a city he does not know and where he has no allies to depend on. Everything comes down to relying on his wits. I enjoyed the description of how he assesses every person that he sees in the street for their level of threat, studying body shape, fitness, clothing, and body movements. As he is followed by an unknown group, Victor uses every trick in the book to get the upper hand and I enjoyed the subtlety of this scene probably more than the fight sequences and shootouts.
I see that Tom Wood’s first novel The Hunter, is being adapted for the screen, so I look forward to seeing what they will do with Victor and just how successfully they will catch his calm exterior and ruthless control. He will be a great character to work with.