Rating – 5 stars
“There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers. I am the kind that pays better” – Richard Castle, Castle.
I am a huge fan of the show Castle, so reading this book when I recollected this line it wasn’t a big surprise for me. Castle is not on my list due to the murder mystery factor of course – Nathan Fillion & Stana Katic get the trophy for luring me in on that. It’s a guilty pleasure. What the show lacks in ah let’s say real mystery when it comes to murder plots and whodunit it more than makes up in the insane chemistry of Nathan – Stana and of course the deliciously incredible dialogue writing.
Reading Barry Lyga’ I hunt killers somehow made me feel Mr. Lyga could be voicing the same opinion. I love mystery books and may be something is wrong with me but serial killers – the crazy psychopathic kind really work for me; provided the author has done a good job and the plot does intrigue me. This one hits the check marks on all the right options.
Mr. Lyga, I believe is an excellent mystery writer who captures the workings of a psychopath’ mind perfectly.
I hunt killers delves into the life of Jasper Dent, the 17-year-old son of America’s most notorious serial killer who had officially killed a hundred and twenty-three people before his arrest, four years prior to the setting of this book. He assumed various identities – Green jack, the artist, etc making the police run in circles before he ends up behind bars not due to the diligence of the FBI or the ground breaking work of a homicide squad from upscale New York or Washington but because of a recently widowed Sheriff of small town Lobo’ nod – Dent’ hometown, where he had settled blending in as a harmless sales executive.
Jasper or Jazz refers time and again to his father as‘dear old dad’.
Raised by a lunatic and now under the custody of another (his grandma, which makes him her caretaker rather than the other way around) Jazz wants to be a normal ordinary teenage boy. He doesn’t want to end up in the foster system understandably or worse become like his dad. Having being an involuntary yet loyal assistant to his dear old dad in his killings, Jazz is scared that he will off course follow in the footsteps of his father, continuing a legacy he so despises. To retain his sanity, he finds support in his best friend Howie, a hemophiliac and his girlfriend Connie.
Hounded incessantly by various branches of media as to have his byte, get his memoir published or sell the rights to a film based on his family; all this in between taking care of his grandma who is sliding into Alzheimer’ and giving him a tough time with her crazy mood swings it is unsurprising Jazz is pissed a lot of the time.
As if it wasn’t enough that there is a serial killer on the loose again and Jazz’ as possible as normal life in a town where everyone knows who or rather what his dad is, is thrown off kilter when bodies start dropping suddenly. Not to mention the hell it unleashes that the guy is also aping Jazz’ dear old dad’ signature, his MO right down to the initials of his victims. Now with the homage of a fan, a groupie to his dad Jazz is at his wit’ end. He however does not allow this pressure to dissuade him into having a breakdown but rather thinks his unusual upbringing will be helpful to catch the culprit , as unlikely as that is considering he is still a teenage boy. Ah well… at least he did not save the day consciously due to his wonderful insights on a criminal’ mind or his profiling genius and was thankfully not seen uttering something along the lines of ‘Elementary my dear Watson… Err Howie towards the end.
The characters of Jazz and Howie are well written. Hell even grandma is amusing though I couldn’t warm up to Connie. May be because I dint find her appealing or just because I dint like the fact that Jazz is into her because he considers her ‘safe’. His dad had all sorts of victims, he raped, tortured and murdered except for African-American women. Connie is an African-American gal and hence Jazz is with Connie. Not to mention she too is with him because her dad also deems it inappropriate that Connie is dating a white boy. Their relationship seemed based on their mutual daddy issues rather than any real attraction and feelings, which makes it shallow. Not that I can expect more out of a couple of 17 year old. But…
I loved the writing of this book. It is creepy, engaging and almost inappropriately so for a book about serial killers and gruesome deaths – hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the scenes, especially the dialogues of Howie, something which I was pleasantly surprised to do so considering the nature of this book. Some books are so wicked its an absolute sin to like them but you can’t help yourself and give into the temptation – this is exactly one of them. The last book which I so loved was Gillian Flynn‘ Gone Girl. Like Flynn’ Amy Lyga’ William Cornelius Dent aka Billy is a real piece of work. The man gives you the creeps, even when present as a VO, but he also makes the book oh so good. There is something almost hypnotic in characters this dark that they lure you in, make you fall prey to them. You can’t help but hate em but you can’t ignore em as well. Had it not been the YA group of Goodreads that I am a member of and the latest challenge on it – I would have missed out on a pretty good book. Adding another fantastic writer to my collection is a treat.