Third Degree: Matt Hilton, thriller writer and creator of Joe Hunter

We brought thriller writer MATT HILTON into headquarters for questioning about his TV and reading activities. Matt has written a string of bestsellers and will this weekend be giving a talk on Unarmed Combat in Crime Fiction: The Myths Dispelled at Bristol’s CrimeFest. As you’d expect from a martial arts devotee and the creator of the full-blooded Joe Hunter thrillers, Matt likes a story that packs a wallop…

Your favourite British crime series or thriller on TV?
These days I don’t get the opportunity to watch much TV, and being the type who can’t bear to miss a single episode of something I like, prefer not to watch the first in a series in case I miss the rest of it. However, there are certain series that I record on SKY+ in order that I don’t miss them. One of the most recent ‘must watches’ that I committed to were the TV adaptations of Chris Ryan’s thriller series’ StrikeBack and StrikeBack: Project Dawn, both of which were terrific and kept me thoroughly entertained. I block watched both series back-to-back over one long weekend and loved it.

Favourite US crime series or thriller on TV?
Recently, I was watching The Event – a thriller – and was enthralled. It was fast and furious with loads of twists and turns and I couldn’t get enough of it. I’m now waiting for the concluding chapters to be shown but heard a nasty rumour that the show has been discontinued. I really hope that isn’t the case. Something similar happened to me a few years ago when my favourite thriller series was American Gothic and the damn thing was cancelled before anything was resolved. I was gutted.

Top TV cop?
I have to admit to not watching too many cop shows per se, but one that I really enjoyed and hoped there’d be more of was Touching Evil, starring Robson Green as DCI Creegan, who as I recall had been injured during a shooting and had strange abilities to ‘sense’ criminals. Touching Evil was popular when other series about FBI profilers and such were all the rage, and was a bit darker and grittier than Cracker (which I also loved).

Which unfilmed book/character should be made into a TV drama?
If I’m not allowed to mention my own Joe Hunter (of course I’d like to see my own character immortalised on film), then I’d have to go with John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series. Handled right, I think a series with Parker, Louis and Angel, and all the dark supernatural undertones would be terrific television. Running a close second to that would be a series featuring Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.

Sky One’s Strike Back series

If one of your novels were filmed, who would you cast to be the hero?
I’m often asked this question at author events and you’d be surprised by the diversity of actors people mention who they’d like to see play Joe Hunter. Gerard Butler, Liam Neeson, Clive Owen and Sean Bean have all been mentioned, as well as some younger actors like Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender. But if pushed, I’d like to throw Max Martini into the mix, as he ‘looks’ the way imagine Joe Hunter looks and has the physical and emotional skills as an actor to portray him on screen.

What do you watch with a guilty conscience (or what’s your guilty pleasure)?
I’ve a real interest in the paranormal, and spend a lot of my free time watching ghost hunting investigations on TV. I’m what’s known as an open minded skeptic and prefer the scientific approach to the ‘medium and psychic shows’, and would one day love to get involved in a bona fide investigation.

Least favourite cop show/thriller?
I’m not a fan of the cosy-type shows, and can’t abide the nonsense you see on shows like Murder, She Wrote or Rosemary and Thyme.

Do you prefer The Wire or The Sopranos?
The Wire, but to be fair I didn’t see much of The Sopranos when it aired.

Marple/Poirot or Sherlock Holmes?
Sherlock Holmes all the way. I’ve never read a Sherlock Holmes book, but have seen most of them adapted for cinema or TV, and still enjoy most of them. Basil Rathbone as Sherlock is still in my mind’s eye whenever I think of the character, but the TV series with Simon Brett and even the recent movies with Robert Downey Jnr have all floated my boat. I’ve never been much of a fan of either Marple or Poirot.

Wallander – BBC or the Swedish version?
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen either, so can’t comment. I have seen other Swedish movies and TV dramas and thought they were beautifully shot and usually melancholy – but that’s all right: I like melancholy crime dramas.

US or British television crime dramas?
I think if I counted the number of shows that I have watched and enjoyed over the years then I’d probably have to plumb for US crime dramas, but that’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed some terrific UK TV as well. I loved Touching Evil and Cracker, but funnily enough both were made into pale imitations of the original Brit versions when adapted for US TV.

Your favourite crime/thriller writers?
I’ve a whole raft of authors that I love reading and admire, and I’d probably be here all day mentioning them all, but I do have certain ‘must reads’ and these are John Connolly, Robert Crais, Jack (J.A.) Kerley, Dean Koontz, Simon Kernick, Jeff Abbott, and Jeffrey Deaver. Stuart Neville, Ken Bruen, Adrian Magson, and Jonathan Maberry are also authors whose books I look out for.

Best new crime author to look out for?
A recent crime thriller I thoroughly loved was Hunted by Emlyn Rees. It put me in mind of a collaboration between Simon Kernick and Jeff Abbott, and was right up my street. Tom Wood’s The Hunter was also terrific, and also another excellent ‘gritty’ crime book was The Drop by Howard Lynskey.

Favourite non-crime/thriller author?
I’d probably go for Dean Koontz or Stephen King. Koontz’s Dark Rivers of the Heart was a superb book, and King’s The Stand is probably the best book ever written in my opinion.

Favourite crime movie or thriller?
I loved the Jason Bourne movies (including the TV adaptation with Richard Chamberlain) and also David Morrell’s Brotherhood of the Rose (with Robert Mitchum), and have also enjoyed recent spy thriller/assassin movies like Salt and Hannah, and am a big fan of The Long Kiss Goodnight, but if pressed for only one answer I’d have to go with Silence of the Lambs which I thought was a masterpiece.

You’ve been framed for murder. Which fictional detective/sleuth would you want to call up?
I’d have to go with Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole – the world’s best detective – because if Elvis couldn’t prove my innocence then his sidekick Joe Pike would kick the bad guys’ asses and break me out of prison.

Matt is the author of short stories and editor of ACTION: PULSE POUNDING TALES VOL 1, which was released this month and features crunching stories by authors such as Stephen Leather, Matt himself, Zoe Sharp and 30 others (including CrimeTimePreview editor RJ). He is, of course, best known for his Joe Hunter thriller series of bestsellers, the latest of which is NO GOING BACK.

Follow @crimetimeprev


  1. Anonymous says:

    Hasn’t read Conan Doyle and thinks the Robert Downey Sherlock is good? Very sad…

    • As I said, I haven’t read Conan Doyle’s Sherlock, but yes, I appreciated the Downey movie for the action thriller it was.

  2. There’s somebody at the door, there’s somebody at the door ..

  3. Ah, good to find another fan of The Long Kiss Goodnight, a film that doesn’t get enough respect! It was a shame about Raimi’s American Gothic. The process for American network television dooms most quality stories. There’s no time for something to build.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: