Firstly, I want to thank the publishers and Net Galley for providing me an ARC of this gripping novel.
This is the first book by Chris Carter I have read, though it is the 9th in the DI Robert Hunter series. This didn’t matter as it was easy to plunge into and get a sense of the central characters, especially Hunter who, according to everyone who knows and works with him is an intellectual force to be reckoned with. Heading up the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit within the LAPD, Hunter and his partner, Carlos Garcia, think they have seen everything. That is until a gruesome discovery alters their assessment.
Not only is the body brutally disfigured, the room in which it is found is presented in such a way that it sets off alarm bells, not only in Hunter but, when more bodies are discovered, also violently dispatched and with a specific signature, the FBI as well. Joining forces, the LAPD and FBI are working against time and a strange and deadly psychopathy. They are also working against each other and must learn to put aside internal tensions and prevent the serial killer from striking again. But it’s not just the killer with a big ego and personalities and personal lives soon become intertwined with shocking consequences.
I mostly enjoyed this book and the characters. While the murders were gruesome, the rationale behind them was explained, and the narrative progressed steadily, building tension. However, two things bothered me in relation to character. The first was the main character Hunter. It felt as if the reader was continually being told, through other characters, how amazingly brilliant the man was, rather than being shown. That one of his colleagues makes the first major break-through in the investigation also undermines his apparent cleverness and people’s desire to impress him. I found that aspect a little frustrating and even rolled my eyes once! Apart from that, he was a fascinating character who, perhaps, is explored and explained in earlier books and that was one disadvantage of reading the ninth book in the series and would explain why these reminders of his intelligence and likeability kept appearing.
The other character that really got up my nose was the female FBI agent, whose name I appear to have forgotten already. Why the woman had to be the one to grandstand, rile and rub people up the wrong way and be such a pain in the arse (almost a caricature), I am not sure. I understand that in pop culture (and maybe even real life) enmity between the police and FBI is legendary, but surely, when a psychopath is on the loose, it’s time for the professionals to be just that: professional. Not for this woman agent. Some of her actions and comments were so OTT and I wondered how her partner could stand working with her let alone have genuine feelings. She was a silly cow much of the time. This also went some way to undermining the final chapters of the book and what happens. It was hard to have sympathy for someone who hadn’t been a good colleague, took offense at just about everything and went out of her way to aggravate people throughout most of the investigation.
Looking briefly at other reviews, no one else has passed comment on this, so maybe it’s just me. I have no issue with women being pariahs and pains, but again, it was so at odds with the loyalty and affection she commanded, what others said about her, I just felt the latter didn’t ring true. Again, the reader was being told not shown – though in this instance what we were told (by other characters) was the opposite of what we were shown. Actions were speaking louder and contradicting words.
Overall, however, I thought this was a really entertaining read – one which, despite a couple of minor misgivings, I really enjoyed.