Action · Book Review

Pray for Death (A Gunn Brothers Thriller) By James Hilton (Guest Post + Extract) @TitanBooks #PrayForDeath #JamesHilton #TitanBooks #Extract #GuestPost


16.10.2018 / Titan Books / Action / Paperback / 400pp / 978-1783294909

About Pray For Death


Brothers Danny and Clay Gunn were brought up an ocean apart. Both served in the military, and both know how to kill, taking work as private military contractors and freelance “fixers”.

Celine Chavez is the closest thing to a daughter that Clay Gunn has. But now she has disappeared while vacationing in Mexico. Clay and his brother Danny must venture into the ultra-violent criminal underworld to bring her home. From the bright lights of Cancún to a living nightmare in the wildest jungles of the Yucatán, the Gunn brothers face the direst of enemies yet.

One thing is for sure: if they survive, the Gunn brothers will never be the same again.

Pick up a copy: Titan Books / Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

Guest Post – Meet The Gunn Brothers by James Hilton

Danny and Clay Gunn grew up an ocean apart, the result of their parents’ stormy marriage. Both brothers served as soldiers, Danny as a Royal Green Jacket in the British army and Clay hefted the rifle as an Army Ranger in the USA.

Now both free of service the brothers have reunited. The Gunn brothers cast a very different shadow from each other. Danny; a rough and ready Scotsman, sometimes described as a ‘wiry bastard’ often employs cunning and a physical response in equal measure. Clay Gunn cuts a more imposing figure, topping six – five and built like a pro wrestler. The Texan is a soft- spoken gentleman unless he is given cause to be otherwise.
Together the brothers provide an obvious contrast but ultimately are two sides of the same coin.

As a writer, the relationship between the brothers strikes a deeply resonating chord within. As a child growing up in the rugged but beautiful north of England and one of five brothers, I learned early on that there was nothing I wouldn’t do in their defence or they in mine. This is a theme I endeavour to explore in the series.

This combined with a love of vintage crime/adventure fiction provides the flavour for each novel. I have an enduring fondness for the classic works of David Morrell, Ian Fleming, Frederick Forsyth and also the paperback action series books from the seventies and eighties such as Remo Williams (The Destroyer series), Edge (The Western series), and also Mack Bolan (The Executioner series). Any readers familiar with these bombastic adventures may well note echoes and tips of the hat within my own novels.
The skill sets of the brothers is also a key component in my novels. They are tough guys to be sure but have no super gadgets, no SWAT team to back them up when the going gets hairy (which it often does) instead they rely on their military training, street smarts, guile, cunning and sheer tenacity to get them through.

As a writer I never let them off easy, they have to work for each and every victory and often pick up injuries along the way. This is a fact of life. If you play with fire you will get burned. The Gunn brothers never shy away from the fire.

My writing style has been called cinematic several times and I have no problem with this. In fact, it is an integral part of my writing process. I sketch out the whole novel in story board fashion exactly the way it is done in film production. I plot out each key scene, chapter by chapter, until I am happy that I have the semblance of a cohesive story.

Then I set to the task of getting words on the page. The story often develops and changes during the writing process and certain scenes may end up on the metaphorical cutting room floor. I have learned to go with the flow depending on where the Gunn’s take me.

Danny and Clay can often surprise even me, leading the action in a new and unexpected direction. Supporting characters can often grow legs and demand more space on the page too. That’s okay with me. If they have something to say I will let them speak.
I’m often asked who I would choose to play the brothers if they made it to the big screen. I try not to get too much of a fixed image when visualising the brothers. I’ll leave the casting to the readers…and Hollywood if they call.

Pray For Death Extract

A tree branch whipped across the young man’s face, drawing blood and sending him stumbling to the ground. He landed in an untidy heap on the hard-packed dirt, losing his remaining shoe as he fell. A shock wave of pain ran up his spine.

The girl running ahead of him turned, a desperate sob catching in her throat. “Dean!”

The young man waved his hand frantically. “Keep going. I’m right behind you.”

Fear encompassed every inch of her face. She looked back and forth, searching the trees for the danger that was close behind. The leafy canopy overhead shielded most of the burning sun, but here and there daggers of bright light illuminated the dirt and dead foliage below with an almost theatrical intensity. Vines spread from tree to tree, intersecting at ground level like the veins of a colossal creature. Fiddlewood and mahogany trees stretched impassive, tall and proud like cyclopean gods.

Dean’s voice was a dry rasp. “Run!”

He knew Ellen could do it. She regularly ran track and was part of the school swim team. Despite that, her legs visibly shuddered with each faltering step. Bile rose in the back of his throat.

A chunk of tree bark pinwheeled as a bullet passed close to Ellen’s head. She ran.

Dean struggled to his feet and followed her as best he could. His bare legs were caked with dried blood and dirt. He was naked save for a pair of grubby boxer shorts. Two raised welts ran in diagonal lines across his shoulders, forming an oversized X.

Crack, crack, crack.

Another short rattle of bullets cut through the trees to either side of his path. He risked a backward glance. Indistinct shadows flitted from tree to tree, visible for a second, then gone again. Ellen was sprinting, head bent, arms and legs pumping like an automaton. Her ash-blond hair and pale skin gave her an almost ethereal look as she dodged between the trees.

Dean knew he was in no way as fit as he could have been. While the other guys from his school had readied themselves for spring break by hitting the gym, he had laughed it off as pointless vanity. He had been running for less than half a mile and already he had vomited his meagre breakfast. His legs felt like they were slowly turning to stone, his muscles seizing. His chest burned as he sucked in huge gulps of air. The pain in his side was horrendous. He hadn’t had a stitch since he was in junior high.

A new ripple of fear coursed through his body. He couldn’t see Ellen. Where the hell had she gone? Then a flash of pale skin caught his eye. She was moving at a clip. Had she changed direction?

A man stepped from behind the tree some thirty feet to his left. His face was marked by green and brown camouflage paint; his white hair, spiked into tufts, stood out in contrast. The man raised his crossbow and in one smooth action pulled the trigger.

Dean howled in shock as the bolt lodged deep in his shoulder. He forced himself to continue running despite the agony, but he was stumbling like a drunkard. Blood seeped between his fingers as he cupped his injured shoulder. The flights of the crossbow bolt were the colour of a raven’s feather. Behind him he could hear the shooter laughing.

“Hab dich! Hab dich! I got you!”

Dean staggered on. The German was one of the worst.

A new voice came to him. It took long seconds to realise it was his own.

“Don’t look back. Just keep running. Don’t look back. Just keep running.”

He repeated the mantra over and over as he lurched spasmodically from tree to tree. Cold sweat beaded over his face, stinging his eyes. Then he was on a path. A narrow path, but one that at least provided a clear line through the trees. “Don’t look back. Just keep running. Don’t look back. Just keep running.”

The new pain struck him like a punch from a karate master. He could not scream. His lungs would not let him. Another bolt must have struck him in his back. The blood bubbled from his mouth as he turned to look at his killer.

The German.

He didn’t even know the bastard’s name.

The camouflaged killer raised his stubby weapon high in the air and laughed aloud.

Dean fell to his knees. Another five men materialised out of nowhere, like ghosts. A brief exchange of words ended with the German pointing in the direction that Ellen had taken. The other men set off again in rapid pursuit, their camouflage clothing and greasepaint blending with the jungle perfectly. They were lost from sight within a few seconds.

Dean’s vision was dimming, dark spots dancing before his eyes. He knew he was dying. Tears ran down his dirtstreaked face.

The German stood over him, crossbow loose in his grasp, laughing softly. He placed a boot on Dean’s belly, almost as if he was posing for a picture. Dean struggled to free himself from beneath the man’s boot, the last vestiges of his strength almost spent. The German increased the pressure slightly, pinning him down.

A short burst of automatic gunfire echoed through the trees. A woman’s choked scream rang out. Then a single shot.

“Ellen…” He couldn’t say more. The blood filled his mouth as he died.

About James Hilton

James Hilton is the author of several Kindle-release titles and short stories. He is a Fourth Dan Blackbelt in Shotokan Karate, as has worked as a martial arts instructor, which has been invaluable in crafting his fight scenes. He is currently planning a YA series. He lives in Carlisle. His brother is bestselling thriller author Matt Hilton.


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