Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

No one in the town of Lobo's Nod wants to believe that the dead girl in the field was the victim of a serial killer.

Jazz knows better.

Spying on the cops and crime scene tech gathering evidence, his father's words echo in Jazz's mind.

"Most of these guys, they want to get caught. You understand what I’m saying? I’m saying most of the time, they get caught ’cause they want it, not ’cause anyone figures ’em out, not ’cause anyone outthinks ’em."

"Anything that slows them down—even if it’s just by a few minutes—is a good thing, Jasper. You want them nice and slow. Slow like a turtle. Slow like ketchup."

"Always check the hands and feet. And the mouth and ears. You’d be surprised what gets left behind."

And Jazz is sure that, despite the sheriff's insistence otherwise, Lobo's Nod has another serial killer on its hands. After all, Jazz knows the signs, knows how serial killers think—because his father was the most notorious serial killer of the century, and Billy Dent liked to share his wisdom with his young son.

Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers is one twisted, yet morbidly compelling, book. (Especially for one that was "accidentally" created!) The mystery aspect of tracking down the serial killer is very good, but what really elevates the book is Jazz and all his contradictions. He has a couple of troubling, misogynistic thoughts, yet it's easy to see why, with Billy Dent as his father and teacher, he might think in such a way. Jazz knows how to read people and how to manipulate them, and takes advantage of this—just like his father. Even though he fears that most people think he'll end up like his father. And deep down, he's afraid they're right.

Other readers have compared this book to the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsey (which I haven't read or watched) and Dan Wells' John Cleaver series (only read the first book), but I really think I Hunt Killers has a ton of appeal to fans of Chelsea Cain's Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series. (Speaking of which, Cain's newest book, Kill You Twice, is coming out next month.) I mean, the charisma of Billy and Gretchen, the grotesqueness of their crimes and their perverse genius, Jazz and Archie's inner turmoil and the fact that their connection to Billy/Gretchen is public knowledge...

But getting back to I Hunt Killers, many of the crimes are gruesome and disturbing, and described as such. Not in a sensational way, but serving in part to emphasize how Jazz's childhood—brainwashed into being an assistant of sorts to his serial killer father—continues to affect him.

Book source: public library.

Cross-posted at The YA YA YAs.


Seth Christenfeld said...

A mystery set in a town called Lobo's Nod...or, backwards, "Don Sobol."

Like it.

Anonymous said...

I've been interested in reading this book but on the fence in the past.

The story sounds right up my alley, having been a big fan of Anthony Horrowitz and his YA thrillers like his excellent Alex Rider series.

However I am only barely familiar with Gary Lyga's work and know that he's mostly popular for YA comedy but only recently has he delved into the darker stuff (Boy Toy comes to mind). So I don't know if he had a good hand for drama as well as comedy.

But your review certainly makes the book sound more thrilling (pardon the pun)than I originally thought. Thanks for the review and great blog, by the way!


R. A. Clapper