Jazz is the son of one of America’s most notorious serial killers. His father is now in jail and he lives with his ailing grandmother and things are going OK. The when a body turns up in a nearby field, Jazz is convinced it’s the work of another serial killer but the police just don’t believe him. He and his haemophiliac friend, Howie, decide to take things into their own hands and start investigating themselves.
The idea that Jazz doubts whether he’s a sociopath or not is an intriguing one. To have gone through what he has, he’s bound to bit a bit messed up and he comes across as quite well adjusted. He worries a lot that he might be starting to take after his father and I felt that was a sign that he’s actually OK. The way the book is written, there is no question of Jazz being the perpetrator of the crimes and I think that takes away some of the tension and pace.
There’s always going to be a hurdle in young adult crime fiction to get teen characters taking on an investigation. For older readers, it’s just not that believable. Sure, Jazz would probably have been consulted at some point, with his unique perspective into his father’s crimes but the police are all too accepting of his involvement. He breaks into the morgue and turns up at the crime scenes…that would be suspicious even if he weren’t the son of a serial killer. The people of the town seem far too nice to him too, in reality he would more likely be shunned, bullied or feared.
It feels a little like two books rolled into one. In my opinion, it would have been stronger if it concentrated on Jazz’s psychological state but it gives equal weighting to the investigation which didn’t live up to what I expect from a police procedural. The concept of nature versus nurture could have been explored a it more if they hadn’t have been focused on being detectives.
I’d recommend it to young adults that also enjoy Criminal Minds and are OK with a bit of death and gore. The part where we find out what happened to Jazz’s dog is the most disturbing. The way that the murders are described, they are much more like police reports, including just enough information to know what’s happened but the flashback to the dog is going to stay with me for a while. And not for good reasons. I think that was the only part where it stopped feeling like a book for younger readers.
I Hunt Killers is published in the UK by Bantam Press, an imprint of Transworld, and is now available in hardback. Thanks go to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
An alternative review @ So many books, so little time.
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