Before the Storm (Hunters #0.5), by Chris Kuzneski

Seven stars

Choosing to finally reveal more about the Hunters before they became a team, Chris Kuzneski has decided to pen a number of novellas to offer their essential backstories. First on the list is the purported leader, Jack Cobb. As the story opens, Cobb is in Florida, fresh off a dishonourable discharge from the U.S. Army. Unsure what to do next, he receives a call from out of the blue by longtime friend and former MANIACs compatriot, Jonathon Payne. As they sit, shooting the breeze, Payne admits that he is not alone on this visit; David Jones is somewhere nearby, set to join them to talk about what happened and where Cobb sees himself next. Ever the Casanova, Jones finds himself otherwise engaged, trolling the beach in search of the finer sex. When Jones does find Payne and Cobb, they discuss a potential job lead for Cobb, though he’ll answer to a Frenchman, something that neither Payne nor Jones can stomach themselves. An interesting means of laying the groundwork for Cobb’s entrance into the Hunters realm, and surely of interest to fans of Kuzneski’s work.

I have enjoyed Kuzneski’s writing for a number of years now, both his highly entertaining banter between characters and the fast-paced adventures in which the reader has a front row seat. When his newer series began, things seemed a little like these folks were parachuted in from nowhere, though hints were left for the reader to piece together a loose backstory. With this new collection of novellas, the reader is able to pair what they know about the characters with something more in-depth, without being too long or drawn out. It’s a perfect read, quick and to the point, while still offering up the Kuzneski flavour that the reader will likely want. One can hope these novellas will be released in relatively short order, as a full-length novel is what I really seek in the coming year or so. That said, I can be sated, temporarily.

Kudos, Mr. Kuzneski for re-introducing us to some of your best characters in these shorter pieces. I cannot wait to see what other novellas you have waiting to release.