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Monday 13 June 2016

‘Wicked Game’ by Matt Johnson

Published by Orenda Books,
31 March 2016. 
ISBN 978-910633-41-0

Robert Finlay has an interesting past. But as an ex member of the SAS who served in Northern Ireland during a very troubled period, and who participated in the siege at the Iranian Embassy, it is a past that he has done his best to hide from everyone.  And that includes his wife, Jenny and his current employer, The Metropolitan Police Force. The special ROSE unit in MI5 has helped Finlay.  ROSE, which stands for the Rehabilitation of Service Expertise, buries the pasts of military personnel who are still at risk from terrorists or enemy Security Services.

Happily married with a two-year old daughter whom he adores, Finlay is about to start a new phase in life as a uniformed Inspector at Stoke Newington Police station.  Then the trouble starts. An ex army man who is now a mercenary is blown up by a car bomb in India.  A policeman is targeted and killed near Selfridges by a bomb left on a motorcycle.  Another policeman is shot dead on the driveway to his home. This suggests that whoever is doing the killing regards the families of policemen as legitimate targets. Finlay is worried. He knows that the policemen who have been killed are all ex SAS, and from the same regiment as himself.

In an extraordinary move, his old army boss, Monaghan, who is now with MI5, persuades Finlay and a friend of his, a former SAS sergeant called Kevin who is now a policeman, that they are both targets.  He tells them that the only way they will ever be allowed to live freely again is if they find and eliminate whoever is behind the killings. Is it the IRA, the Iranians, or another unknown entity? Monaghan helps the two men with some of their more hair-raising exploits as they pursue their horrible quest.

Wicked game is an absolutely brilliant new thriller. The writing is so authentic that you forget this is a story. It feels as though it is real life that is being described as Matt Johnson navigates the intricate hierarchies and rivalries of the police, the army and the Security forces with consummate ease. The plot is fast-paced, twisted and exciting.  Finlay is a man who is prepared to break all the rules to protect his family, but he is also a very human and likable person.  I can’t praise Matt Johnson and Wicket Game too highly.
Reviewer Angela Crowther

Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993,  he was one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing. Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Whilst undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. He has used his detailed knowledge and memory to create a fast paced, exciting and authentic tale of modern day policing. Matt Johnson is living proof that PTSD is a condition that can be controlled and overcome with the right help and support. He has been described by many fans as an inspiration to fellow sufferers.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.


  1. Please pass on my thanks to Angela for this lovely in-depth review. Great to hear it was enjoyed so much. Matt J.

  2. Hi Matt
    I am delighted to report that 559 people have logged on to read this review. Hope that they all buy the book.

  3. Wicked Game, is on my today's TBO ..!!