Cover Image: The Cyclist

The Cyclist

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This is the first book that I have read by Anthony Neil Smith, the title totally sold it to me. Which i think is very original having read so many books i am always on the lookout for something different. And to be totally honest I enjoyed this book that much I wish I had read this book sooner.

In this story we meet ex Seal Judd who is now a  banker he finally leaves his home in Minnesota to fly over the ocean to meet Catriona who he has been messaging online for a while . We follow him on what is meant to be a biking adventure which turns into a living nightmare.

With only a couple of characters the author gives you plenty of background information so you really get to know them...and for the ladies you cannot help but like Judd! 

I have to say that this story certainly isn't what I expected it to be with the initial onset of Catrina and Judd’s romance. This story is packed full of action that will keep you on the edge your edge. Not forgetting the OMG moments….The cyclist is full of twists and turns that you won't see coming. Talk about keeping me on tender hooks, with only 190 pages this is a short and snappy read.

I really felt like I was watched this on the big screen.All that is left now is for this to be made into a film….which I highly recommend

Thank you to the author and netgalley for a copy in exchange for a honest unbiased review
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A failed marine, Judd can't believe his luck when Catriona falls for him. He lives in Minnesota; she's from Scotland. They work for the same company, they've messaged online for ages. But when they finally video chat, she turns out to be gorgeous. They may be thousands of miles apart, but they share a deep love of cycling and a passion for life. It's love at first sight.

Judd throws his meager savings to the wind and flies across the Atlantic to meet Cat in person. Together, they plan a bike trip through the desolate Scottish Highlands. Perfect for cycling. Camping out. Being alone. But soon Judd discovers there's more to Cat than meets her alluring brown eyes.

What Judd doesn't know is that someone is following them. Someone with sinister plans. Their lonely journey through the Highlands turns into a game of cat and mouse. Someone is making them ride for their lives. But who exactly is the hunter, and who is the hunted?
My take.......

A bit different from previous books I've read from this author and no bad thing either. No one wants to read the same thing time after time. Man meets women over the internet, a bit of casual flirting ensues. Judd isn't too happy with his life in Minnesota, so heads for Scotland and Catriona. Catriona shares his love of cycling and could be his ideal match. Anthony Neil Smith goes all Mills and Boon with a passionate and fulfilling romance destined to end in a happy ever after. Yeah right.

Minnesota, Scotland, cycling, romance(s) - of the mental health issues, twisted variety, an unlikely friendship or brotherhood borne through shared military service, even if things didn't quite go to plan, loyalty, disappointment, unfulfilled expectations, and several life or death struggles for our four main combatants - the other two who you'll meet when you read the book for yourself.

Lots here to like - thrills, spills, violence, torture, woodland pursuits, Navy Seal survival skills on display, crossbow action, a decent pace and plot with fleshed out characters and back story that had me totally engaged. That the author delivered all this in under 200 pages was an added bonus.

Unsurprisingly things don't go well for all of our combatants. Not your regular guy meets gal love story.

4.5 from 5

Fortunately for me I have plenty more from Smith on the TBR pile.

Since the blog started I've enjoyed - All the Young Warriors (2013) and To the Devil, My Regards (with Victor Gischler) (2017)

Read in July, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 190
Source - review copy via Net Galley, courtesy of publisher Bastei Entertainment
Format - ePUB
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'This was his penance: The Cleaver was his Marley, except every day instead of just Christmas.'

Judd didn't have what it took to make it as a Navy SEAL. Not only did he fail in his attempt to take the grade, he almost took out his infamous trainer, The Cleaver, in the process by shooting him in the legs and chest during a training exercise. 

Now Judd is full of guilt. He's cut off ties with his father, hates his civilian job and is constantly haunted by The Cleaver who is now a drunken shadow of his former self and turns up like a bad cent whenever the sun goes down. 

The only things that keep him going are hard, fast and dangerous cycling and the time he spends video messaging a rather cute Scottish lass called Cat. The cycling's all about getting away from everything and has the added bonus of the possibility of suicide by pedalling. Cat, on the other hand, offers something like hope. The chance that his life might not be over, after all. 

When Cat suggests that Judd go over to Scotland for a cycling holiday, it's too good an offer for him to resist. He jacks in his job, cuts the physical ties to Minnesota and sneaks away from his conscience-pricking war-vet millstone while he's not paying attention. 

What follows is difficult to sum up without spoiling things for you when it's your turn. Suffice to say, Cat isn't everything Judd expected. Her bike is barely fit for the road and she can't ride for toffee. More confusingly, she's uninterested in a physical relationship with Judd and plies him with enough beer and whisky to make sure that sex is out of the question. There's also a sticky issue of her other boyfriend, a rather disturbed young man who is sicker than rabies. 

Cleaver, left at home with little left to fill his time now Judd has gone, smells a rat. He fears Judd might be another in a long line of SEAL suicides and decides he can't let that happen. He responds in the only way he understands, with a covert operation designed to protect his fellow countryman. 

In The Cyclist (US), there's plenty of action for adrenaline junkies. There are also some great observations about the little differences between Scotland and the US. The Judd/Cleaver relationship is complex and compelling and their undulating loyalties are like a journey through the Highlands themselves.  

Twists, turns, shocks and toe-curling brutality all play their part as this one free-falls with alarming pace to it's climax. A must for the fan of the action thriller, a no-go area for the faint-hearted. 

A smashing summer read.
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Judd is a failed Seal candidate looking for love. He meets Cat online and decides to travel to Scotland to get to know her better and have a short cycling holiday.
The Cleaver is an ex Seal now alcoholic who sleeps on the floor with a few blankets a habit from his army days in enemy territory. He has some history with Judd and tracks him to Scotland fearing he will commit suicide.
Cat is not the person she pretends to be. Her best friend Alistair has a few issues and suffers from invisible bugs. Together they have something special planned for Judd and the woman of his dreams will turn into a nightmare.
The non-descript title might lull you into thinking this about a harmless cycling holiday. That will be the first mistake you make. Cat and Alistair are a crazy pair of psychos with a plan to enjoy every minute of Judd’s time left.
My favourite character was The Cleaver. Despite his own problems and the possibility of losing his life, he still endeavored to look out for Judd.
This book has some pretty full on graphic descriptions and not recommended for anyone a bit squeamish. I started this book with low expectations, which developed into time flying by. Great thriller and well worth a read.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free digital copy in return for an honest review.
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A quick read but not the book for me

It is a pacy read but I just found the whole tale a little far fetched.  I do think it will appeal to some readers but just not me .
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Three and a half star rating.
Don’t take anything on face value, especially online - something Judd forgot when he flew from the U S to see Catriona in Scotland.  This keen cyclist got more than he bargained for - much more!  The book really got into its stride once Judd and Catriona met at Glasgow airport and from then on it was absolutely action packed, a thrill a minute, but who is the cat and who is the mouse in this violent story?  It certainly kept me entertained!
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Wow! This one was a super fast read. And the pacing was apt. It did not feel like the book ended abruptly or dragged on.
Judd was a wonderful character. Once down in the dumps, he made sure he came out of all the trauma and survived. And The Cleaver was an inspiring one as well.
Excellent plot, it does get your heart beating a little faster, and you will thoroughly enjoy it.
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Judd is a failed Navy SEAL. He is in a boring job & long cycle rides are the only thing that keeps him going until he hooks up on-line with Catriona. Cat seems exactly the person he has been looking for- lively, fun & another cyclist. After many weeks of daily conversation he decides to throw in his life in the US & buy an open-ended flight to Scotland and heads to Glasgow along with his bike.

Cat sweeps him away with her energy, her lust for life and amazing capacity for alcohol! They plan on a cycle trip in the Scottish Highlands but their trip has not gone unnoticed. Someone is watching them & it is not out of concern for their welfare.

I must admit that it was the thought of the setting that drew me to this book. That didn't feature as much as I expected.  It is very violent. I did find it a bit unbelievable and I never really warmed to the characters. This is a short and extremely fast paced story, which is probably why I finished it!

Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for giving me the chance to read & review this book.
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I'm still recovering. 
This novel starts like a gentle Sunday afternoon ride into the countryside. You are enjoying the pace, excited by the plot and wondering where it will go. 
Then halfway through it suddenly freewheels on a terrifying path and I really was struggling to hang on.
This book is certainly not for those looking for a tame thriller. Unfortunately, I was already hooked by the time the real gritty part started (I don't want to say any more than that in case I give too much away) so by then I just had to stay on until the end in the early hours of the morning which literally left me sweating and shaking.
It's a great book. No doubt about that. I would just recommend that you don't finish it the night before you need to be somewhere. Or the next night.
Many thanks to #Netgalley for the opportunity and to the author for the palpitations.
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Judd is a former failed Navy SEAL now working for a dead-end job in banking. He was busted out of the SEALs after a training accident where he gunned down his training sergeant, a legendary SEAL who somehow survived the shooting only to now be pensioned off due to his injuries. Needless to say, Cleaver, the former training sergeant, holds Judd responsible for the premature end to his stellar career. Cleaver has moved to be near Judd and torments him, despite this, the two are kind of friends having weird and dysfunctional relationship. Judd has met Catriona, a Scottish girl, online. They speak everyday by video link, though they’ve yet to meet in the flesh. They share a love of cycling, something Judd has taken to fanatically to work through his guilt. When Catriona invites him to Scotland, he has little hesitation in abandoning his job and flying half-way around the world. But is everything all that it seems? Certainly, when Cleaver finds out he doesn’t think so and thus decides to follow Judd on his journey.

I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but this a chilling read. I’m not a fan generally of serial killer fiction, but if you know anything of the famous British case of the Moors Murders then this will bring you out in chills. The author is American and so I don’t know if he’s done much research into Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, but from what I’ve read, the psychology he describes in The Cyclist matches those two exactly. Judd on the other hand is an appealing protagonist and one who suits the story perfectly. He’s not some super hero commando, the likes of which populate many a thriller, rather despite his military background, he’s vulnerable and not a little naiive. That said, when the chips are down, his military training holds him in good stead and he has just enough of the right stuff to see him through. It’s a balancing act that the author performs with some panache and the result is a believable protagonist. 

Anthony Neil Smith is to my mind an underrated writer. I’ve read some of his stuff before and it’s always been very good. Yet for some reason not many people I know are aware of him. I hope the cyclist helps him gain the success he well and truly deserves, for like previous books of his I’ve read, The Cyclist is a riveting read.

5 out of 5 stars
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This was certainly an interesting book but I would expect no less from Anthony Neil Smith. 

Judd is a washed out Navy Seal who lives to ride his bike. He washed out because he accidentally shot his training officer who he continues to have an odd symbiotic relationship with. While at work in a job he hates, he meets a co-worker on line who lives in Scotland. Catriona works for the same bank and while at work she and Judd skype and become close. She invites him to Scotland to ride bikes together around the country. He decides to take a chance, sells everything he owns except for his bike and hops on a plane.

When he gets to Scotland, Catriona is not what he was led to believe. 

I enjoyed this book a lot. The writing style makes it flow. I was concerned a bit into it that it might become more graphic than I could handle but it wasn't. Good thing.
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This book was so easy to get into and I enjoyed the very descriptive writing, the characters seemed to come alive and I managed to read the book in two sittings, not sure what I was expecting but I totally enjoyed the book, the trip through Scotland was nice and scenic with a few pubs thrown in and then the chase was on, then it was a race to the end, good writing
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At less than 200 pages, this is an extremely quick read and just FLIES.  Unfortunately, it just didn't quite work for me.  I do appreciate the psychos killing just to kill theme but I needed a lot more from the characters.  There's virtually no character development and the whole read felt a bit stunted.  Dialogue was short and the writing was a bit punchy.  

I'm willing to suspend reality a LOT for books but this entire story line was completely unrealistic... or rather, I think had there been more background on the characters, then maybe things would've made some more sense.  I even stopped feeling bad for Judd at one point.  I will say, I'm impressed with the longevity of the characters after what they were going through.  I doubt I'd survive even a quarter of what happened!

If we were to put this to the big screen, I think this would be a popular B horror film.  I do have such a soft spot for these types of film, not gonna lie.    This is a gruesome, fast moving thriller that never quite gives you the answers you may be looking for.
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Since dropping out of Navy SEAL training, Judd has found himself in a rut. Living alone, and tormented – quite literally – by Burt, his drunken former SEAL trainer, he takes solace in a burgeoning online friendship with a Scottish girl name Catriona, built on their shared obsession with cycling. As their mutual attraction grows, Judd makes the bold decision to fly to Scotland and meet Cat in person, with a view to taking an epic bike trip through the Scottish Highlands, and getting to know each other more intimately. Nothing is quite what it seems, however, and Judd’s dream trip quickly degenerates into a bloody nightmare, as a mysterious lunatic sets his sights on the couple…

With its transatlantic, fish-out-of-water plot, and its nerve-jangling Catfish-meets-Rambo storyline, The Cyclist represents a well-judged lunge towards the mainstream for cult crime novelist Anthony Neil Smith. The principal characters are unusual and well-rendered, and the narrative is satisfyingly twisty throughout. That said, Smith pulls no punches with the grisly violence, which made me wince more than once.

Sometimes The Cyclist feels less like a cat ‘n’ mouse thriller, and more like a visit to a menagerie of maniacs – and that is definitely a good thing! Entertaining stuff.
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I loved the setting of a major part of the story in the Scottish Highlands. The raw and desolate beauty of the place is described well in the book. I also liked the idea of a cycling adventure. The grit and determination of a few characters were also worth applauding. There is something raw and disturbing in the premise of The Cyclist which draws you to it. The idea itself is worth every minute that you spend reading The Cyclist.
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Never quite got there, Judd is a marine recruit who failed to make the grade who loves cycling. As luck would have it he meets his ideal mate whilst working for a bank but she lives in Scotland. Fed up with his job and the promise of a good time with Cat he drops all and flies to Glasgow. From the start of his visit things are not quite right. The author has moved very quickly and has you asking why, why and why but not giving anything away. This a great fast moving thriller that takes you places that make your toes curl. As a Scot I can confirm we are not all like the characters in this gruesome but exciting novel.
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One thing Judd loves is cycling. Then he gets to know Cat online and thinks he could love her too. He throws in his job, takes off from his life in the US to meet his dream Scottish girl, and to take a cycling trip with her through the highlands and see where it all leads. This cat-and-mouse thriller has some graphic descriptions which some readers may squirm or skim through while being drawn into a fast-paced journey to find out who survives, who dies.
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Judd is living and working in America. He's in a bit of a dead end job which he doesn't really enjoy, he's estranged from his family over his failure to become a SEAL due to a nasty incident that led to him being booted out of the training. These days, he pretty much lives to cycle, spending hours clocking up the miles; but he's still pretty lonely. His only "friend" being Cleaver, the man with which he had the SEAL training incident with, who is still bitter and resentful and plays on Judd's guilt. Until that is he meets Catriona (Cat) on line and they start a bit of an internet relationship. She also loves cycling and they start to bond over their mutual love of the sport. Then they take it up a notch and swap messaging for video chatting and when Judd sees how beautiful Cat is he agrees to a meet-up. Only problem is, she's in Scotland!
So, he does what any smitten man would do. He cashes out his savings and up sticks with his bike to visit. But when he gets there it soon becomes apparent that things are not really as described. Cat starts to behave a bit strange and it becomes apparent that there is more to Judd's visit than at first appears. An ulterior motive. Especially when we meet Alistair!
Blimey. What. A. Ride! And I'm not just talking about the cycling here. What a deep, dark and gruesome mind this author must have to create this story. He also has a bit of a warped sense of humour with some of the black comedy also contained therein. Comedy that was completely necessary to offset the violence. Because, be warned, this book does get a bit nasty at times. And by nasty, I actually mean some very graphic torture scenes. 
It's hard to mention much more about the plot without spoiling anything so I'll just say that it is very cleverly worked out and executed, It grabbed me from the start and didn't let go, holding my attention very nicely throughout. 
There are not many characters in the book so all of them have to be strong enough to keep it all going nicely. Happy to report that even though they are all a bit complex, wounded, and mostly a bit strange, they are all well described. I am not sure that I liked any of them as a whole although I did like some of their various elements and parts. I definitely connected with them emotionally - again not all positive!
Pacing was a bit of a game of two halves. We start with quite a bit of build up and scene setting but once the action gets started it is frenetic to say the least and it does not let up until the end.
This is not my first book by this author but it has been several years since I last read one of his books. I think this one may be the spark that reignites my interest in his back catalogue.
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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Thanks to Bastei Entertainment and Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.

Anthony Neil Smith’s latest book, The Cyclist is a thriller that’s very different than the other books I’ve read of his.  That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable, because it is, but it seems a more traditional book than what I’ve read before.  I’m no expert though on his books, so maybe it’s not that different from some of his other books.  

Judd had almost all the qualities to be a Navy Seal, but unfortunately, he made the mistake of firing and injuring his instructor during one of his training events.  He and the instructor (“Cleaver”) left the Navy and ended up living nearby, with Cleaver taking frequent times to remind Judd of his mistake.  Judd has a job he doesn’t really like that pays him just enough to live on and fund his one main hobby, riding his bicycle.  However, Cat, a woman from a Scottish branch of his company, contacts him and their frequent discussions including their passion of riding their bikes leads Judd to fall in love.  She convinces him to come to Scotland and Judd pools his money and does just that.

Judd finds Cat to be even more desirable in person, but he becomes somewhat suspicious about her inferior bike and her apparently limited biking ability.  However, he does get to enjoy his time with her, but he eventually finds out that she has other plans and Judd’s life may be in danger.  From here on the book turns into a page-turner and enjoyable thriller that needed to be read quickly to the end.

This is the 6th book I’ve read of the 10 books of Anthony Neil Smith books I own.  I’ve enjoyed them all and this book is certainly one of my favorites.  I’m looking forward to reading more of his books.
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In honesty, this one maybe rates somewhere between a 3 and a 4, but I've rounded up because I think I'm a nice guy.

Judd has washed out as a Navy SEAL recruit after shooting and almost killing his instructor. Now to get over this and process it he cycles relentlessly whenever he's not working. This is helping a little, but meeting Glaswegian "lass" Cat is helping more as Judd sees an opportunity to put this part of his life behind him. His former instructor has taken it upon himself to harass Judd at every opportunity and make sure he never forgets what he's done.

I was attracted to this one as I'm familiar with the author for his other books (despite not reading any) and his social media presence and because I was intrigued by the prospect of an American author writing about my home country of Scotland. There are some Scottish cliches thrown in, but not without reason and you can see the author has done his research on Scotland. Belle and Sebastian shade aside the author does a good job here.

The tale itself is well built up and holds plenty of twists that you don't see coming. The between 3 and 4 stars come from a few lulls in the story where the pacing just slows to a crawl. They are maybe there for suspense, but I'm an impatient bugger!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.
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