The Cyclist – Anthony Neil Smith
Release Date: May 2018
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
Synopsis: 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?
I’m going to preface my review by saying Anthony Neil Smith’s The Cyclist isn’t my normal type of read. True, I like thrillers and mysteries and the like, but this didn’t feel like that. Perhaps it was Judd and his off and on again machismo? Maybe I’m just used to reading books from a woman’s p.o.v? That’s more likely.
The Cyclist has a lot going for it–simmering tension from page one, flawed characters who come full circle, the beautiful scenery of the Scottish countryside and cultural references and slang that I miss so much from living in the U.K. “Taking the piss?” Why doesn’t anyone say that here?! And Wetherspoons. Ahh, love it or hate it, you can’t help but miss it here.
I greatly appreciated Smith including the very real issue of military-related PTSD, even if not combat related. Any attention helps shed light on a very real issue that I think isn’t talked about as much as it should be. That element also gave the book a different voice than you normally hear which made it more interesting for me. I wasn’t sure I totally understood what happened between Judd and his military buddy (not really sure what else to call him) Cleaver; I felt like there was more going on there but the idea never fully came to fruition.
My only real turn off when it came to The Cyclist was the level of graphic violence in the last half. It was more than I was expecting, and I was left feeling pretty queasy at some of the torture scenes. It used to be years ago I could read books like that, but these days I just don’t have it in me to digest it anymore. I get nightmares/panic dreams super easy now, so watching or reading anything overly violent tends to trigger that for me.
If you’re looking for a fast paced thriller that’s a little different than what’s already out there now, give The Cyclist a try!
Check back in a few weeks when Anthony Neil Smith’s guest post goes live!
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.