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

Third Degree: Bill Crider

Award-winning Texan mystery novelist Bill Crider is hauled into crimetimepreview HQ to answer questions about his criminal viewing proclivities…

Your favourite British crime series or thriller on TV?
Is Z Cars still on? I even have a novelization of that one. But currently, it would be Sherlock.

Favourite US crime series or thriller on TV?
At the moment, Terriers, but only because Justified is on hiatus.

Top TV cop?
An easy one. Joe Friday [Dragnet], hands down.

Which unfilmed book/character should be made into a TV drama?
You mean aside from my books, right? Then I’d have to say Lee Child’s Jack Reacher should become a movie franchise for someone.

If one of your novels were filmed, who would you cast to be the hero?
I used to think James Garner would be great as Sheriff Dan Rhodes. Now, maybe Tommy Lee Jones.

What do you watch with a guilty conscience?
I hardly ever feel guilty about watching TV, but I do feel a bit that way about Castle.  I’m not fond of the mystery elements or the procedure, but I like Nathan Fillion and his mother and daughter. 

Least favourite cop show/thriller?
I’ve never been fond of any of the CSI franchise. I watched a couple of shows but couldn’t get interested.

Do you prefer The Wire or The Sopranos?
The Wire.

Marple/Poirot or Sherlock Holmes?
Holmes, but then I started reading him a few years before I discovered Christie.

US or British television crime dramas?
Mostly I watch the US shows if I watch at all.

Your favourite crime/thriller writers?
Far too many to name, but I love the old stuff by Hammett, Chandler, and Ross MacDonald. And then there are John D MacDonald, Harry Whittington, Gil Brewer, Day Keene, Donald Hamilton and don’t get me started. I could keep going for far too long.  Brits: Alistair MacLean, Eric Ambler, Dick Francis, Jack Higgins (especially the earlier books), and many more.

Favourite non-crime/thriller author
Again, too many to name.  I was an English major in college, and I love reading just about anything.  US writers: Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Joseph Heller, and on and on and on. Brits: Dickens would be at the top of the list, but I like Maugham, Forster, and a host of others.  More contemporary, George MacDonald Fraser.

Favourite crime movie or thriller?
Tough call.  If I had to name just one, it would probably be the Bogart’s The Big Sleep, but Chinatown is a close second.

You’ve been framed for murder. Which fictional detective/sleuth would you want to call up?
Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer. He’s the kind of guy who’d keep on digging until he found out the truth of the matter.

• Bill Crider’s 17th novel in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series, Murder in the Air, is out now.

Third degree – Sam Millar

Belfast crime-writing ace Sam Millar is the first novelist to be hauled down to 
crimetimepreview headquarters for questioning. Sam has published six novels, 
including The Redemption and The Darkness of Bones, as well as the 
award-winning memoir On the Brinks. Here he reveals how Sean Penn 
might have portrayed him on the big screen…
 
Your favourite British crime series or thriller on TV?
 
Life on Mars. I was totally hooked from the very first show. One of those 
rare classics that only hits our screen every decade, if we’re lucky.
 
 
Favourite US crime series or thriller on TV?
 
Always loved The Sopranos, but then came the brilliant The Wire, and
knocked them off the top of my list. 


Top TV cop?
 
Columbo. Oh, one more thing...
 
 
Which unfilmed book/character should be made into a TV drama?
 
Er, my Karl Kane series of books, which accidentally, are being considered 
as we speak by Carnival Films. Sorry for such grovelling self-promotion.
 
 
If one of your novels were filmed, who would you cast to be the hero?
 
Liam Neeson, would be the obvious choice, as Karl Kane is a Belfast PI. 
But when Warner Brothers bought the rights to my memoir, On The Brinks
they were looking at Sean Penn to play me, which I found slightly bizarre, 
if highly complimentary.
 
 
What do you watch with a guilty conscience?
 
Mad Men. I hate smoking and sexism, but I’ve become totally addicted 
to the show and all its vices and non-pc jargon.
 
 
Least favourite cop show/thriller?
 
Heartbeat. A paradox title for a show with very few actors’ hearts 
actually beating.
 
 
Do you prefer The Wire or The Sopranos?
 
The Wire (sorry, Big Tony).
 
 
Marple/Poirot or Sherlock Holmes?
 
Poirot.


Wallender – BBC or the original Swedish version?
 
The Swedish version. I find it grittier, even though fellow Belfastian, 
Kenneth Branagh is in the BBC adaptation and doing a fine job.
 
 
Your favourite crime/thriller writers?
 
So many great ones, it’s hard to be selective. Cormac McCarthy, 
Nelson DeMille, Jon Land, Declan Hughes, and two powerful crime 
writers to watch out for in the future: Leigh Russell (Road Closed
and James Thompson (Snow Angels). 
 
 
Favourite non-crime/thriller author?
 
Graham Greene. Timeless writing.
 
 
Favourite crime movie or thriller?
 
 
I have two. No Country for Old Men, even though it wasn’t 
half as good as the book, and The Long Good Friday, arguably 
the best British gangster movie ever made, for my money.
 
 
 
You’ve been framed for murder. Which 
fictional detective do you want to call up?
 
Jim Rockford. He mightn’t get me off, but 
he’s cheap!

Sam Millar’s latest Karl Kane novel is 

‘The Dark Place’
%d bloggers like this: