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TinaNoir

Tina's Reading Books

Genre fiction lover:  Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers - Barry Lyga

I have had this book on my TBR for quite awhile now and had completely forgotten about it until someone mentioned it.  Felt like a good time to bring it to the top of Mt. TBR because I am a little fried on romances and want something a little different.

Welp, this was different alright!

Jasper 'Jazz' Dent is the 17 year old son of one of the country's most notorious serial killers.  Billy Dent killed 123 (or 124, depending on how you count) women across the country over a period of many years.  He was finally caught when he broke one of his own cardinal rules, he finally killed where he lived.  

Billy Dent is not just a serial killer.  He is a brilliant, PhD level sociopath  with a photographic memory, an almost pathological hatred of the police, and the ability and looks to manipulate everyone with ease.  And as his young son was growing up he imparted all the wisdom of what it takes to be a successful killer into the mind of a young impressionable boy.

So now as a teenager Jazz has the notoriety of being the son of a murderer, what amounts to a college level education in all things serial killing, and the abject fear that he might be more like Dear Old Dad than he wants.

But Jazz also has something else.  He has two friends that keep him grounded.  Howie his best friend and Connie his girlfriend.  And he has the sharp, desperate desire to be nothing like his dad.

I really enjoyed the heck out of this.  This is told primarily from Jazz's point of view and about the worst thing I can say is that sometimes being in his head with his self doubts repeating over and over and over again got a little tedious.  On the one hand, the author does a great job of making you understand how much a child can be imprinted by a parent.  I mean, how many of us grow up with a lot of our values, thoughts and perceptions based largely by our parents?  And some of it is so deeply ingrained you'd be surprised to realize where some of it is coming from.  So yeah, I totally got the parts where Jazz, with some gratifying self awareness, understood the depth of how deeply he was affected and even kinda  brainwashed by his father, and was still somewhat powerless to stop obsessing over it.  But Jazz is only 17, he is still forming so I yeah I get it.

But on the other hand, his inner paranoia over the possibility that he'll tip and become a killer felt just like that: paranoia.  Over and over again he was told he could make his own fate.  He didn't have to become like his father.  So from a reader perspective it does  become difficult to sit through the inner arguments time and again.

But still I appreciated that tension the author created.  You do wonder where this will all lead in the end (it is a trilogy).  Will Jazz become triumphant? Or will he succumb to the darkness?

I vote for being triumphant.  Largely because his connections with Howie and Connie speak to a depth of feeling that no sociopath could lay claim to, despite Jazz's own doubts.  And also because Howie and Connie are just about two most kick-ass supporting characters as you can possibly get.

I loved Howie, the tall gangly, basketball obsessed guy who doesn't let the fact that he has hemophilia limit him.  He can't get a tattoo?  Well Jazz will get one (or ten) for him.  The friendship is really lovely.  I especially loved the scene where Howie gets a slash  and isn't wearing his medic alert bracelet and Jazz gives all the pertinent medical information to the EMTs.  It was just one of a couple of scenes where we are shown that Jazz knows as much about managing Howie's condition as Howie does.

And then there is Connie.  Jazz's girlfriend.  She gives him his come-to-Jesus talks when he is feeling too much in his head.  She isn't  afraid of him or fear what he might become.  She's smart and awesome.  For him she is perfect.  And safe. Jazz sometimes wonders to himself if he feels safe enough to be with her because she is black and none of his father's victims were black (ergo if he tipped over he wouldn't be tempted to kill Connie).  I think there is the subtext there only because Jazz thinks that, but their interactions and strong bond don't really bear that out, imo.  It is another case of Jazz being too in his head.


Another character I loved was G. William.  The local sherif of their small town who could easily be mistaken as a Good Ol' boy local hick cop, but has a laser share brain and top notch police skills and was the only person smart enough to catch Billy Dent.  He has an avuncular relationship with Jazz and is the one who brings Jazz back down with a thud when Jazz thinks he's smarter than he really is.  

Jazz, Howie and Connie form a bit of a Scooby gang to help hunt a serial killer in their town.  Well, Jazz feels compelled to find the guy, hoping to prove something to himself, Connie and Howie get dragged along for the ride.

Even with the heavy subject matter there were still some lightness and humor, most especially thanks to Howie.

There is something that happens in the end that made me roll my eyes.  Felt a bit cliche.  But oh well.

Looking forward to the next books.