I Hunt Killers

Image via Goodreads

I Hunt Killers
Barry Lyga

Publisher’s Blurb:

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

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?

Let’s start with the only two words that can really sum up this book:  holy shit.  I hadn’t ever thought about serial killer’s children, I think because I had some senseless hope that the universe would somehow deny something that innocent and impressionable to someone that horrifyingly evil.   Now that I have thought about it, all I can think is “holy shit” over and over again.  We’ll start with the fact that Jazz is remarkably well adjusted for someone who grew up listening to murders for bedtime stories.  The other side of that coin is that he’s also understandably conflicted.

In terms of characterization, I have no complaints with Lyga.  Jazz spends a fair bit of his time waffling over whether he’s good or if he’s really evil and just exceptionally skilled at faking good.  Here’s the thing though:  I never once got fed up with it because of course the kid’s going to have some burly inner demons given his upbringing.  I mean, even if it were just limited to the dreams, he would still have been monumentally screwed up. What tempers Jazz’s uncertainty a bit is that this is really just the (reasonably) exaggerated internally conflict between light and dark that everyone goes through.  Admittedly some to a greater extent than others, but everyone’s questioned themselves at some point.  By adding that small sense of familiarity, it adds an element of realism to the story.  No one wants to believe that serial killers exist, but an internal struggle is pretty easy to understand.

Okay this is the last thing I have to say about Jazz, but it’s something that was done so artfully that it surprised me.  What surprised me so much was the fact that I ended up sympathizing with Jazz so thoroughly.  I actually got a little defensive on his behalf, particularly when he was approached by families of his father’s victims who asked him why he didn’t do something.  Why didn’t he stop his dad?  Normally, that’s a perfectly valid question, but when it’s the killer’s son, it bothered me of a very basic level.  When you’re growing up, your parents are gods and what they do, who they are is perfectly normal.  Asking a seventeen year old why he didn’t do something to stop his dad pissed me off because his dad has been in prison for four years, so really they’re asking why a fourteen year old couldn’t have risen above a decade and a half of brainwashing to put a stop to it.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to lose a loved one knowing that they experienced so much pain and terror before they finally passed on.  My heart goes out to anyone who’s had to go through that.  But this is what Lyga did artfully.  He made me resent the victim’s families a little, which is an entirely new experience for me.  Normally, I’m pretty universally on their side.  It takes some good writing to get someone to abandon their pre-conceived inclinations.

In the end, this book is compelling, though even that doesn’t quite do it justice.  It’s fascinating layered over enthralling.  You’re probably thinking that this book is filled with only darkness from this review, but Jazz’s best friend and girlfriend provide a fair bit of relief from the murder and dismemberment.

4.5 ink bottles
Character Investibility:  5 Buffys
Character Believability:  5 Doctors
Pacing/Urgency/Tension:  4.5 Dresdens
Worldbuilding:  4.5 Snyders
Language:  4.5 Feegles
Mystery:  4.5 Sherlocks

Book Links:  Goodreads, Publisher

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