Friday, 21 April 2017

Book Review: THE RED HUNTER by Lisa Unger

The Red Hunter

Author: Lisa Unger
Simon & Schuster (Australia)
April 2017
Expected publication: 1 May 2017


At fourteen years of age, Zoey Drake was forced to watch as her parents were brutally murdered in front of her eyes, whilst she barely escaped with her own life. Over the last ten years, instead of letting the trauma destroy her life, Zoey has channelled all her energies into making herself stronger, vowing never to be a victim again. Now fully martial-arts trained, the anger still  living inside her is the “Red Hunter”, a force that compels her to seek out and fight injustice.

“It was getting to me. I was vibrating, giving off the energy of the thing I tried to hide and harness. I had given it a name. A thing that lived inside of me, The Red Hunter. Rage.”

Claudia Bishop has also had her life shaped by trauma. Brutally raped as a young woman she has never been sure whether her daughter is her husband’s child or that of her attacker. Over the years, this uncertainty has destroyed her marriage and has propelled her to make a new start with her teenage daughter, leaving the city and seeking solace in the country. Restoring an old house she inherited from her father might just be the project she has been looking for to put her life back on track and find the peace she is craving.

Strangers to each other, the two women are linked by the house’s dark past and the secret it still harbours. A secret that some people are prepared to kill for, which will see Claudia’s and Zoey’s paths collide and have them fighting for their lives once again.

My thoughts:

What is the difference between justice and revenge? This is the underlying theme of her latest thriller, and is a question Zoey asks herself many times as she channels the “Red Hunter”, an avenging energy which is the one thing that has kept her going over the years, trying to overcome after the horrific trauma she suffered as a teenager.  

“In our touchy-feely culture, there’s a lot of talk about forgiveness, a commonly held belief that the nurturing of hatred and anger is a toxin. No one ever tells you that is can be an angine, that it can keep you alive.”

But as Zoey will find out – revenge may not be as satisfying as she has believed, nor will it bring the peace and closure she has desired.

“When you plan revenge, you should dig two graves – one of them for yourself.”

I loved the background theme of empowerment for victims of crime, both for Zoey as well as Claudia, and how both women find their inner strength in different ways, which allows them to become stronger and move on with their lives. With characters who are well drawn, believable and engaging, the thriller comes to a nail-biting finale as the two women’s lives collide. I made the mistake of reading this book in the evening, which meant another sleepless night as I absolutely could not put the book down until I had turned the last page!


The Red Hunter is a tense and suspenseful thriller which will set your heart racing as the action unfolds. At the same time, it raised the age-old question in my own mind: is revenge justified if it brings a murderer to justice? I guess that depends on each individual’s own moral code, and would make a very interesting discussion point in a book club gathering. Lisa Unger is a new and exciting discovery for me – after this nail-biting rollercoaster ride of suspension I will make sure to put her other novels on my to-read list!


There are certain dark doorways in this life, and when you open one and step inside, you can't come back out.

It's funny how two people meet and come together, and through their differences form someone unique with with a whole new set of gifts and quirks.

"Revenge seeks chaos," he said. "Justice seeks balance. That's the difference."

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel and giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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