The Treadstone Exile – Joshua Hood: Book Review

This gruesome, twisted, and turbo-charged book is a perfect read for fans of weaponized, hardcore, brutally gritty action thrillers. Joshua Hood knows exactly what fans of this genre want and delivers in spades. Sure, this isn’t a book for classic Ludlum fans, but it’s set in the same universe and is just as messed up. Adam Hayes, the hero, or more likely the antihero of Hood’s Treadstone series, is a damaged, recovering assassin, who’s more fun than Bourne in a darkly devious way. While he may not be as smart as the popular amnesiac assassin, he’s probably way more dangerous in his gun-toting badass fashion. 


   Adam Hayes is counting his days spent not killing anyone, much like a recovering alcoholic counting his days of sobriety, while on the run from his former masters at Treadstone after he killed a corrupt Senator at the end of the first book. But the streak doesn’t last long, as Hayes is thrust into chaos and mayhem in this twisted plot that’s not as simple as the first book. With a plot that’s got the Ludlum-esque brand of conspiracy, mystery, and twists on a large scale, it keeps the reader in the dark about what exactly is happening at a macro level for the most part, while the chaos on the side of our anti-hero is mostly about his own survival and his innate need to do the right thing in a series of unfortunate events leading to him being duped multiple times and coming out barely alive in a weaponized blaze of bloody glory. 


   The conspiracy within The Treadstone Exile involves a French tech billionaire, Andre Cabot, who’s made a lot of enemies in his thirst for power and is desperate to save whatever’s left of his grand plans. On the other side is Levi Shaw, the director of Treadstone, who’s taking a lot of heat from politicians and the CIA for his mismanagement of Treadstone super-assassin Adam Hayes. When Levi’s own life gets targeted on the streets of Washington D.C., he’s using all his cunning and connections to keep himself and Treadstone alive. On the African side, at the Ivory Coast, Cabot’s daughter gets kidnapped while she’s being transported by Hayes, which thrusts the former assassin into a conspiracy of power and wealth and a twisted family drama where nothing is what it seems. The plot is complicated and the twists aren’t predictable and the action soars in a gruesome, bullet-ridden, rampage where almost every character is in it for themselves, maybe except Hayes, whose good heart leaves him used like a puppet at times. 


   Unlike other fictional super assassins, Adam Hayes is a character who’s married and has a son, and tries his best to balance the different parts of his personality to get better and reunite with his family. This element of his character makes him stand out in the genre, but his twisted, psychotic, blood-thirsty killer personality designed at Treadstone is darkly awesome throughout the violent thrill ride. Hayes starts the story as a smuggler, using his piloting skills in the criminal underground to make a living that doesn’t involve killing, but ends up being a one-man army going on rampaging, amazingly orchestrated, highly weaponized, killing sprees on too many mercenaries, militants, assassins, and other scumbags. Though Hayes is far from an outright hero, he’s a sympathetic character who is too good at a high cost for himself and I couldn’t help but cheer for him while he mows down hostiles in a style that’s more badass than any movie in our era. 


   Hood’s writing style is sharp and loaded with memorable one-liners that are as badass as his twisted hero. There’s even a reference to The Gray Man series by Mark Greaney, but what comes immediately afterward in that scene is too dark and twisted in a diabolical way that perfectly displays the evil in Cabot. The dark comedy in this thriller is some of the best in this genre, as it’s brilliant, messed up, and too fun in a devious way. Obviously not for the faint-hearted, The Treadstone Exile is turbo murder at its finest, perfect for fans of old-fashioned men’s action thrillers, but set in the modern-day world. This book continues in setting up a larger story arc involving Levi Shaw and Adam Hayes, and that’s got me excited for the next book in the series, The Treadstone Transgression, which is set to release early in 2022. I liked how the book almost completely ignores the divisive real-world politics and sticks to telling the story about the fictional conspiracy and puts the action as its main priority. Like devouring a spicy taco with many cheesy toppings and not regretting the diarrhea that follows, action thrillers like these are good for the heart in an entertaining, escapist manner. Fans of rampaging, weaponized, fast and brutal, action thrillers will be glorying this series for years to come as it’s one of the best in this subgenre in recent times. 

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