I Hunt Killers
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
April 3, 2012
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That's the question asked by Barry Lyga's new book I Hunt Serial Killers - the question Jasper Dent has to deal with every day of his life. Billy Dent, his father, has been in jail for the past four years, but that doesn't stop the people of Lobo's Nod, the town where they lived (and Jasper still lives) from looking at Jasper "Jazz," strangely.
He might be charming and attractive and he was popular before his father's arrest but now people wonder how long it'll be before he becomes just like his infamous father.
And now bodies are stacking up in Lobo's Nod again. To keep his name clean - and maybe his conscious, too - Jazz is helping the police find the killer. Only, he may be even more like his father than anyone suspects.
I Hunt Killers has a main character in 17-year-old Jazz that will set you on edge. Certain events/recollections are definitely of the skin crawling variety, as well. Without either of those things, though, the novel would not have been nearly as good. The squicky - and frankly, rather gross and disturbing - bits needed to be there.
As much as I Hunt Killers is about finding a killer, it's also about Jazz trying to figure out who he is. Yes, he's the son of a serial killer who killed more than one hundred people and who raised him with knowledge of and talk about those kills . . . but what does that mean for him as he grows older? Is he, like everyone (or who he sees as everyone) seems to think, doomed to follow in his father's footsteps? Or can he turn away from the negativity and be a good person?
Jazz's inner struggle, the mystery, and the crime were all done incredibly well. One element wasn't lacking because of another's presence, they were all strong. The characters were also great. Through Jazz's grandmother we get to see a lot of how family dynamics and upbringing affected both Billy and Jazz - with it being shown and not told, something that makes the effect much stronger. The characters who are closest to Jazz are a lot of fun for their parts in the story. They're unique and original and I loved seeing the parts they played not only in his life but also in the unveiling of the story line as it progressed.
I Hunt Killers also seemed to handle the technical aspects of both the investigation of the murders, the handling of the evidence, etc very well (or if it was wrong it was written in a way that seemed very right).
Thank you to the publisher & NetGalley for my e-galley of this title