Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hetman: Hard Kill / Alex Shaw

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Action-Adventure/Short Story

Approximate word count: 9-10,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
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Alex Shaw was a drama teacher in an international school based in Kyiv until he left to set up his own consultancy business. 
Hetman, the author’s first novel, took 12 years to write, subsequently followed up by Cold Black. Both were Kindle bestsellers.

You can learn more about the author at his website.


1994, SAS trooper Aidan Snow is seconded to a covert intelligence and security unit serving in Northern Ireland. Their task is to stop a breakaway IRA cell before it can halt the peace process in its tracks.

The operation they undertake is initially a success, Fox and Snow confirm the cell is armed and possesses explosives, but before the terrorists can be arrested they disappear and an informer, part of the cell, is found dead…


This novella is an introduction to the protagonist Aidan Snow who appears in the author’s  novels, Hetman and Cold Black. If you’re a fan of army based thrillers then this story will appeal to you. There’s plenty of military references and acronyms, procedures and processes. Thankfully, not too many to slow the story down. There’s also an experience of life in the army, some humour and some hurt. It brings quite a personal side to the tale.

The action starts from the opening line with Snow and his colleague, Paddy Fox, entering the field on a mission. Although the peace process is underway, the troubles aren’t over and that fact filters into the story throughout. There’s a constant underlying feeling of risk and danger. The reader follows Snow as he undertakes his dangerous tasks, fighting for survival when captured and making his first ‘kill’ in order to escape.

It’s a short, snappy read that gives a strong taste for the novels. It’s pacy, well written with good dialogue. There’s a strong sense of time and place, set nearly twenty years ago in a problematic period that’s still a strong memory for many.

Well worth picking up if this is a genre you enjoy. I’ll be looking out for other work by the author.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number not worth mentioning.

Rating: **** Four Stars

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