Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

How did I get it: The library.

Why did I read it: I’m a big fan of any kind of serial killer fiction.

Summary: 

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminal’s point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

Review:  I should preface this by being entirely honest and admitting I am not all that crazy about Barry Lyga’s previous works, which is why getting to this book wasn’t initially very high on my priority list although the concept is right up my alley. What changed my mind was my reading slump and deciding that since nothing else was working, I might as well give I Hunt Killers a chance. I’m very glad I did.

Jazz is definitely enjoyable, endearing, and likable in the same way as Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter Morgan or Dan Wells’ John Cleaver. He also is in a much more difficult position than either of those two characters because he was raised, trained, and ultimately messed up by his father who was an actual serial killer. Because of that, he is the focus on media attention and has a difficult time being seen as anything but the most likely candidate for picking up where dad left off. He also living with his grandmother who is rapidly declining mentally and constantly wondering if he is responsible for his mother’s disappearance and possible death. He works to prove he isn’t like his father and is often confronted by the sinking suspicion that, if he’s not careful, he could turn out like him.

Jazz also had a really great girlfriend, Connie, who has no problem defending Jazz from himself. And a good best friend, Howie who is very loyal and normal. He also provides Jazz with a means for curtailing some of his less than healthy tendencies since Howie is a hemophiliac, but there is a lot that Jazz does for his friend as well. I loved how Connie and Howie care about him and that there wasn’t any weird drama with either one of them. They’re also much more aware that Jazz isn’t as damaged as he thinks or incapable as emotion as he often suspects, which I liked. Hopefully Jazz will eventually figure out what caring about people and things including whether or not he’s a serial killer means he’s not as bad off as he imagines. Or at least cut himself some slack since there really wasn’t anything he could have done to stop his father.

In terms of other minor characters, I was happy that Jazz’s father actually makes an appearance and will cause other problems in the near future. I liked how the police chief, G. William, wasn’t always quick to do what Jazz suggested but wasn’t slow on the uptake so much as reluctant to admit to a serial killer in Lobo’s Nob. He reminded me a lot of some of the better cops from various episodes of Criminal Minds.

The writing was great although sometimes I really found myself wishing –for the first time in a long time– that the book was from Jazz’s first person point of view.  There’s definitely a part of me that could have done without Jazz trying to make so much of The Crucible fit his frame of mind, but the pacing of the plot was very enjoyable. What remains unsolved and unresolved in terms of Jazz’s back story as well as what will happen when he sees his father again made so much sense.

In conclusion, a great, quick read that I can’t wait to recommend to teen patrons at my library. It’s very refreshing to read a YA book where the sequel will serve an actual purpose so hopefully it’ll be coming out soon because I need more.

How I would rate it: 4 out of 5 stars.

Other Reviews:

About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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