I would like to apologise, because my turn on this blog tour was Friday 21st, but after travelling to the US, without a moment to relax and returning home with a little one that had Jet Lag, my last week was completely crazy, and I completely forgot that I had a blog tour with this amazing book.
So here is a little excerpt of Marked For Death, it will make you want to read it right now!
Marked For Death by Matt Hilton
Genre: Thriller, Action
Joe Hunter has been Marked for Death in his most explosive outing to date
It should be a routine job. Joe Hunter and his associates are hired to provide security for an elite event in Miami. Wear a tux, stay professional, job done.
But things go wrong.
Hunter is drawn into what appears to be a domestic altercation. When he crosses the mysterious Mikhail however, he soon finds something altogether more sinister…
Before long this chance encounter has serious repercussions for Hunter and his friends. Good people are being killed. On the run, in the line of fire, the clock is ticking.
From the bars of Miami Beach to car chases and superyacht grenade battles, bestseller Matt Hilton dials up the intensity in this rip-roaring, set-piece filled thriller perfect for fans of Lee Child, David Baldacci and Stephen Leather.
And the promised excerpt...!
Smoke, fire and corpses.
That was his world when his senses coalesced out of the fog of incomprehension. For minutes gone – or for an eternity, he wasn’t sure – he’d floated outside his corporeal body, his mind tumbling slowly through a void of nothingness. He could see, taste, touch and smell nothing. In that place he was at peace. It’s said that when death comes, the final sense to leave us is hearing. In that abyss there was sound, though it came from such distance that it barely scratched at the edge of his hearing.
As he tumbled through the colourless void he grew aware that he was straining to deny those sounds, because through acknowledging them it meant he still clung to life. He didn’t want to hear. He wanted only to wallow in peace and leave everything behind…the fear, the agony.
But the more he tried to ignore the sounds, the more insistent they became.
And as they grew louder, panic swelled.
What was he thinking? He didn’t want to die!
Now he clawed against the alternative, and his own voice rose to join the audible chaos surging over him. He screamed, a ragged, throaty roar of denial that snapped his ethereal mind into the present, and he was reeled in at a shocking velocity. Mind and body collided with the force of an exploding star, a phosphorescent white light splitting apart the void, and through the rents in its insubstantial fabric poured reality.
Choking smoke. Searing flames. Charred and bloody corpses.
He could taste his own blood, and smell the acrid tang of noxious fumes. But they were distractions compared to the crushing weight on his chest and legs. A huge slab of jagged concrete bore into him, his frail body the only thing denying its inexorable contest with gravity. He was on the verge of bursting, of collapsing under the immense weight, as had the building currently under bombardment by US missiles.
Even as he grew aware of his predicament, memory flooded in.
He had been standing alongside another two private military contractors, supposedly in Afghanistan to assist with the peace-keeping forces, but really using the opportunities that a nation in turmoil offered to those willing to step outside laws and morals. He’d partnered with the two Chechen mercenaries to work security while they brokered a deal with the Taliban. It was a deal that would open routes through Chechnya to the Western world. The mercenaries would grow rich on the raw opiates on offer. The meeting within the Taliban stronghold – a compound of high walls and a cluster of concrete bunkers abandoned by the Soviets years ago – had been tense, but promised to grow fruitful…until hell rained down from above.
The only thing that had saved him from immediate evisceration was that the first missile to strike had targeted an adjacent building. The detonation had destroyed that building, and had hurled massive chunks of debris onto the one in which they met with the Afghans. Walls and parts of the roof collapsed on them even before they were aware of the concussive wave of sound and fury rolling over them. He had seen men picked up and thrown through the air, as if swatted by an invisible giant, their bodies pulverised by flying debris, even as he had been thrown down. Ears ringing, thoughts swirling, it took him moments to crawl up from the dirt and stand again. He was dazed, covered from head to foot in dust, but otherwise unhurt. Miraculously he had survived where so many others hadn’t. Through the choking cloud of debris a hole in the wall offered an escape, and he staggered towards it. Beyond it a curtain of fire raged, and he backed away from the furnace heat that washed over him, throwing his arms over his face.
He was retreating like that when the second missile struck and the remainder of the ceiling thundered down on him, forcing his sensations into that foggy void. His arms were still before his face, but their strength wasn’t what had spared him from being pulped. Other chunks of debris he’d fallen amongst helped prop up the crushing weight of the slab. Yet he was still trapped, and had no hope of dragging himself free. The slab promised to be his final marker.
Another missile struck towards the rear of the compound. The flash lit up the smoke that wreathed around him, and he felt the concussive force of the detonation almost instantaneously, the concrete on top of him thrumming like the skin of a drum, casting down grit and dust in his eyes. The corresponding boom compressed his eardrums. He screamed again…but it escaped his constricted chest as a plaintive wheeze.
‘Elbek!’ A voice responded, speaking in Russian. ‘Is that you? Where are you, Elbek?’
Elbek was one of his Chechen partners.
Elbek was dead.
He could see the man’s crushed face a few feet away, his body mashed under more fallen concrete. He could smell Elbek’s blood and his voided bowel.
‘It’s me!’ he croaked.
‘Where’s Elbek?’ The voice had switched to English, for his sake.
‘He’s gone…please…you have to help me.’
Rocks clattered, and a figure loomed alongside him, crawling on hands and knees. He peered into the face of the man that would decide his future. The Chechen’s face was streaked with dirt, and blood trickled down his cheek. His sharp eyes played over him, and then slipped away. He had been disregarded. The Chechen began to crawl away, to claw at rocks to help him stand.
‘Please,’ he said. ‘Don’t leave me here like this.’
He would die beneath the rubble, choked or burnt to death. Should he survive he faced execution by the Taliban – for in their minds, who else could have guided the US missiles to their stronghold – or capture and imprisonment by the US forces who would deem him a traitor and enemy combatant.
‘There’s nothing I can do for you,’ the Chechen rasped. ‘Except give you a swift death.’
The Chechen had returned to his side, this time standing over him with an assault rifle hanging down by his side.
‘No,’ he pleaded. ‘Please. I don’t want to die like this.’
‘I don’t see any other way for you.’
‘I’m trapped. Yes. But you can get me free.’
‘What’s in it for me? I’ve wasted enough time here as it is.’ The Chechen wasn’t only talking about his need to flee before the US troops arrived to sweep the compound of survivors. He was angered that his deal with the Taliban, and the riches it promised him, was at an end. There was little to profit him in dragging another mercenary from the wreckage.
He strained against the rubble. It sank a fraction lower. ‘Ask anything of me, and I’ll do it.’
‘I need to go.’ The Chechen snorted and turned aside, not even bothering with delivering a mercy killing.
‘Wait!’ If he could, he would have lifted beseeching hands to the Chechen. ‘Help me. Save my life. Do that and I swear to you I’ll do the same for you a thousand times. Please, get me out of here, and I’ll do anything you want. Anything! I’ll fight for you. Even if it means dying for you!’
He didn’t know it then, but his pledge would be tested many times in the coming years, and through every trial he would stay true to his word. Even when asked to do the worst things imaginable.