Received via Netgalley from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.
What if the country’s most notorious and haunting serial killer had a son? What if that son was raised to be a killer? Would he be?
Barry Lyga looks at an interesting question, bringing forth the debate: what makes us who we are, nature or nurture? Jasper Dent was raised by the mad man who killed hundreds of people, who perceives serial killing as a family business. The Dents are professionals, who’s knowledge and skill is passed down from father to son for generations. Billy has big plans for Jazz, and even bars can’t keep the sociopathic tendencies he’s fostered in his son quiet.
In a bid to prove to himself that he is not a sociopath, and not going to grow up to be like Dear Old Dad, he couples with the Sheriff to hunt down the newest local threat who calls himself The Impressionist. Its not until later on that Jazz realize The Impressionist isn’t just a serial killer – he’s replicating his own father’s murders. The clock is ticking and only Jazz can help piece together the killer’s next move using the skills and the hunting instinct that his blood line holds.
I Hunt Killers started off slow, being an interesting look at the psychological impact of living with a parent who is a serial killer. The training Jazz received is doled out in bite size pieces, teasing us into wanting more. We see Jazz fight with his desire to kill, his knowledge that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He also battles the fear that people of Lobo Nod are watching and waiting for him to become his father. The story is very believable and well written but it isn’t until The Impressionist begins to show his true inspiration that the story really becomes interesting.
The details of police work, a serial killer’s psychological profiles and teenaged angst are very realistic. Each piece of the puzzle is clearly well thought through and researched however, sometimes Jazz speaks as if he is reading from a textbook, or even sounds far too much like a pathologist rather than a teenaged kid with serious psychological issues. Also, the Sheriff’s willingness to involve a teenager (and suspect) was a bit far-fetched. Hi lack of apparent care for Jazz being present at crime scenes, disrupting evidence, and talking down to a man with many years’ experience on the force was also bothersome.
At any rate, I Hunt Killers was an interesting take on the question of nature vs nurture and a unique look into the family life of serial killers (fictional family, of course!).