Review by Lyn Perry
Although a sequel to Heroes Die Young, the short novel Friends In Deed can be read as a stand alone adventure. It is set in the Aston West universe and features a reluctant space pirate hoodwinked into carrying out one last deed with some former "friends" that he'd just as soon forget.
The protagonist's first person voice is wry and witty, but isn't overdone. We get to know Aston's back story a bit and can sympathize with his predicament, struggles, and decisions. Good story telling mixed with adventure and a plot that builds until the end. It is a fast paced thriller in space - space opera usually is, so fans of this genre won't be disappointed.
The novel starts strong; an early turning point and rising action hint at where you're headed but spools out enough mystery to keep the pages turning. Overall, fairly well plotted, but with a few loose ends - which allows, conveniently enough, for a third novel in the series, Death Brings Victory and also a fourth, All Good Things. The whole series is solid story telling, btw.
Hunter's Aston West novels are adult themed, although nothing objectionable language-wise; however there are a few "senseless" deaths (not by Aston's hand) in book two, but this is part of the novel's subtle theme and poses a necessary crisis and internal struggle for the protagonist. Overall, the books are probably more YA and than MG if you're thinking you might want to buy them for your kids.
I'd recommend this series to anyone interested in adventure, even if space isn't your preferred setting. The science isn't intense, but the fiction is. In fact, I liked Hunter's collection of short stories, Dead or Alive: An Aston West Collection, enough to publish them via Tule Fog Press!
So while I like Hunter's short stories featuring Aston, his novels (of which I haven't published any) allow the author's storytelling skills to really shine, in my opinion. I'd give them something close to an 8 out of 10. Well worth reading.