I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers

Author: Barry Lyga

Publication: 2012, Little, Brown, and Company

Pages: 361

Overall Rating: bth_5-star-rating_zps467d5332[1]

Rating for Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_2-star-rating-1_zps4cdc0d23[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Life is anything but normal when you’re the son of the world’s most notorious serial killer.  Jazz’s dad has been locked up for the past four years, but before he went away he taught his son all the tricks of the trade.  Now there’s a new serial killer in town, and Jazz will do whatever it takes to catch him – because stopping another killer is the only way to prove he’s not a killer himself.

Age of Main Character: 17

What I Liked the Most: Even though it’s written in third person, you live inside Jazz’s head.  It’s intensely cool – but be warned, Jazz’s head isn’t always a nice place to be.  His dad was a brutal man and he expected Jazz to follow in his footsteps.  Jazz saw some truly awful things as a kid, and he’s constantly assaulted by those memories.  His father’s voice is there, too – living inside his head right alongside you, coaxing him to act out on his worst impulses.  It’s brilliantly done and scary as hell.  There were times when I found myself confronted by some pretty horrific thoughts – so be sure you’re ready for the ride.

What I Liked the Least: One of Jazz’s biggest fears is that he could be a serial killer – that the desire to kill is locked in his genes and programmed to go off at any time.  That fear propels the story forward and provides an added layer of tension at some crucial moments.  But Lyga plays it out a bit too long.  The story is filled with moments tailor-made to help Jazz realize he isn’t like his father – that even if the desire to kill might be lurking somewhere within him, he’s learned how to master it.  And yet he keeps going back to that same fear, to the point where you want to slap him.

How Good was the Action? There isn’t a lot.  Lyga is a master at building tension and upping the stakes, and the few action scenes he writes are dripping with energy and fear.  But there are only a couple of them and they’re both relatively brief. 

How Engaging was the Story? Jazz is a powerful character, and his intense drive to solve the latest string of murders keeps the story rushing along.  But every other character in the book is equally rich – from his friend Howie, a hemophiliac with a dangerous love for adventure, to the weary sheriff, to the ever present figure of Jazz’s father.  The dialogue and interactions are first rate, as the story slips seamlessly from the horror inside Jazz’s own mind to the fresh horrors piling up around him.

Overall Assessment:  I Hunt Killers is a shivery good mystery/thriller that will have you watching the shadows with a new edge of fear every time you turn out the lights.

Profanity: Some.

Sex: Not much more than making out.  But there are lots of references to rape and plenty of naked corpses– some of them pretty graphic.

Violence: This is a book about serial killers.  So yeah, it’s violent.  We never see an actual murder take place, but the crime scenes are bloody and gruesome.

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