MATT JOHNSON’S END GAME, the last book in his acclaimed Robert Finlay trilogy, opens in 2002 with an assassin stalking his target in the English countryside. From the first line, Johnson drops us into the thick of things and it’s this immediacy, this immersion in the storyline that fans love so well.

End Game finds protagonist Finlay disillusioned and slightly weary. Family apart, he’s just had one of the worst years of his life and now he’s been passed over for a promotion that he didn’t really think he’d get, but still secretly hoped for. Things really start to unravel though when he tries to help former SAS-colleague and great friend Kevin Jones, accused of murdering his girlfriend, Sandi. When Jones goes on the run, Finlay finds his career rapidly unravelling and himself embroiled in a conspiracy that seems to lead back to the security services and his own past. Helped by his former MI5 liaison officer, Toni Fellowes, Finlay struggles to uncover the truth, but at what cost?

Like Johnson’s earlier novels, this is a gritty, fast-paced, authentic British thriller, reminiscent of masters Len Deighton and Dick Francis. There are no frills or gimmicks.

Written with great precision and attention to detail, the Finlay books draw on the author’s own knowledge of serving in the military and Metropolitan police force. His depiction of Finlay, a man suffering from PTSD, is honest, courageous and raw. In 1999, Johnson was diagnosed with PTSD; he started writing down his experiences at his counsellor’s suggestion, Wicked Game, the first Finlay novel, the result.

End Game is an extremely readable, action-packed turn-pager of a thriller and a fitting conclusion to Finlay’s story.

While fans will no doubt be disappointed that the trilogy has come to an end, we can only wait with baited breath to see just what Johnson does next.


End Game by Matt Johnson •  31 March 2018 • Orenda • Paperback •  £8.99


Suggested soundtracks: Henry Mancini, Peter Gunn TV Theme (1958); John Barry, Ipcress File soundtrack (1965)

Food to eat while reading: red lentil, kale and coconut soup – nurturing soup to keep you warm

Oh, and happy, happy World Book Day. In the words of C.S. Lewis, a man whose words helped shape my dreams, ‘You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.’ Now, where’s the kettle…


This review is published as part of a book blog tour. Thanks to Anne Cater and the publisher, Orenda. All thoughts and opinions are our own.


Also of interest:Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s Canadian noir‘; ‘Force of Nature–aka where’s Alice Russell?‘; ‘Jane Harper’s stylish debut – The Dry‘; ‘To Kill a Mockingbird (1962 trailer)’; ‘An Alaskan epic – Rosamund Lupton’s The Quality of Silence‘; ‘Mallory, an old-style hero’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”’; ‘Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love)‘.











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