Monday, April 16, 2012
Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view.
And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.
In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows? -- Little Brown
When I was initially pitched the new Young Adult novel I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga, the publicist said, "Fans of Dexter, CSI, and Criminal Minds will devour this book." Do I even have to say more? I am a HUGE fan of Dexter (both the books and the television show) and the premise behind I HUNT KILLERS sounded fantastic! A teen boy who just happens to be the son of an infamous serial killer decides to help clear his name in some local murder cases. Of course, I jumped at the chance.
A few days later, a package arrived for me. See below:
I HUNT KILLERS came in an evidence bag! Do I even need to tell you how this delivery made my day? I thought it was too fun and I admit that I began to judge this book by its cover (or in this case, the packaging!) I was dying to read it and could barely wait to finish the book I was reading at the time.
Needless to say, I had some high expectations for this novel. And guess what? I think I can pretty much say that I HUNT KILLERS lived up to all of them. I honestly couldn't put this book down and read it in just two sittings. So much about it was so good; and I love that it works for both teens and adults. The story was intriguing (to say the least) and kept me on the edge of my seat; however, I think the best thing about I HUNT KILLERS was the main character -- Jazz.
I absolutely adored Jazz from the get-go... or should I say, almost the get-go? When I HUNT KILLERS begins, Jazz is checking out a gruesome murder scene with his binoculars so he can remain hidden from the authorities. I wasn't quite sure what to make of him -- whether he was a citizen trying to help or a really creepy teen who was obsessed with murder scenes. And after a few chapters, I'm not entirely sure that I knew how to take him. What I can say is that I liked Jazz a lot and wanted to believe that he was using his knowledge of murders and murderers for the greater good, but in the back of my mind, I kept wondering if he could be a "good" guy given his background and relationship with his father.
I didn't feel too guilty wondering about Jazz's intentions because Jazz had similar feelings about himself. I think that's actually one of the things I most enjoyed about this novel -- Jazz's inner turmoil about who he really was. Jazz was an extremely damaged guy and he almost couldn't believe that he wouldn't turn into his father. While he tried to live a somewhat normal life (he did have a best friend and a girl friend), he also carried some major baggage like tending for his ailing grandmother, missing his mother, and living down his father's reputation. To overcompensate for his father, he decided to help the chief of police solve the town's murders (because he does happen to think like a serial killer); however, when the crimes look a lot like his father's work, he finds himself a suspect.
I could write forever about Jazz and his inner demons because I found him fascinating, but I also thought the secondary characters in this story added to its charm. I guess you could say that they were all a bit quirky, but they did provide some humor to an otherwise serious storyline. Jazz's best (and only) friend was a hemophiliac and loyal to a fault, while Jazz's girlfriend was a pretty cool kid who wasn't afraid to set things straight for Jazz. In addition, I thought the police chief was a great character, and I loved his mentor-like relationship with Jazz. However, it was Jazz's father, the killer of more than 100 people, that I found incredibly interesting... and very scary. I'm not sure that I got a good idea of what motivated him, but I did find his interactions with Jazz to be extremely complex.
I thought Mr. Lyga did an amazing job of not only creating Jazz but making this larger-than-life character believable... and likable... and almost normal. At times, he seemed like a pretty typical (albeit very smart and charming) teen. And while I adored the character development, Mr. Lyga also knows how to write a seriously creepy murder mystery. I HUNT THE KILLERS isn't for the faint of heart -- the murder scenes are pretty disgusting; and the criminals are the stuff of nightmares. I was so caught up in this small town's murders and I couldn't read fast enough to discover just who was behind this grisly crimes. Of course, there are lots of twists and turns and I was shocked by the final outcome.
I understand that I HUNT THE KILLERS is the first in a series of books, and all I can say is "YAY
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.
Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.