Title: I Hunt Killers
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: YA Mystery
Series: Jasper Dent (Book 1)
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 359 Pages
ISBN-10: 0316125849 (Little, Brown/Hachette)
ISBN-13: 978-0316125840 (Little, Brown/Hachette)
Reviewed by: Emmy
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?
Quick & Dirty: This book’s packed with dark humor and engaging characters. IF you love watching Criminal Minds or Law & Order this is a great book for you.
Opening Sentence: By the time Jazz got to the field outside town, yellow police tape was everywhere, strung from stake to stake in a sort of drunken, off-kilter hexagon.
Jazz is afraid he’ll follow in his father’s footsteps. 120 murders has Dear Old Dad locked away tight, but Jazz knew about some of the victims and has been having nightmares about killing something with his dad. Or…are they memories? It’s too splintered to put together. When a murderer begins racking up kills in Lobos Nob, Jazz knows just how to prove he isn’t his father. He knows the mind of a serial killer, has first hand experience even the best profilers can’t compare to. The police chief humors him and lets him help out far more than I think likely, but thus begins the creeptastic story.
Honestly, I found Jazz to be a little over-preoccupied with the fact he knew how to kill everyone around him. And sex. As much as it adds authenticity to the fact the narrator is a teenage boy, well, no one really wants to be trapped in the mind of a horny teen. I loved his relationship with Connie which was not only a great way his character developed into someone I liked, but it was interracial! I can’t remember the last time I read about an interracial couple in a YA novel. Interspecies, all the time, but when it comes to matters of race our young adult selection becomes white-washed.
This novel is funny. Hilarious, actually. Especially when Jazz and his hemophiliac best friend Howie are investigating. They banter and are clever, even at a grizzly crime scene. Jazz’s grandmother is a hilarious addition too, but she also made me sad. She suffers from memory loss, confuses people with others and is often drugged to sleep by Jazz so he can go out and investigate. The characters of I Hunt Killers were definitely what carried the novel, bringing the humor and depth to the story.
While you have to suspend disbelief about the chief letting Jazz contribute to the investigation, his social worker is another story. This woman, though probably put in the novel with good intentions, only highlighted for me the idealism most people have about Child Services. The fact is our case workers are overworked and unlikely to put so much effort into a teen who’s clearly not being abused, is self-sufficient, and is almost 18. Sad, but true, and it pulled me out of the story. And no matter how good a manipulator he is, I couldn’t bring myself to believe he’d be let out of therapy without more of a fight.
This novel was more real than I’m used to murder mysteries being in YA. It was gory — not, like Stephen King gory, more like Shaun of the Dead. A strange mix of hilarity and blood. It was startling and graphic, and thus not the easiest thing to read. The humor is what got me through it for the most part. It’s one thing to watch a Criminal Minds marathon and another to read it. It was a disturbing and fun book, and I will definitely be returning for the next Jasper Dent novel.
“Howie told me what you guys did last night,” Connie said, shutting up Billy’s voice in his head. “Not cool.”
“I knew I should have killed that kid when I had the chance,” Jazz said lightly, then immediately regretted it when he saw the expression on her face. “Not funny?” he asked.
“Not when you say it. You don’t know how to joke like that.” She thought for a moment, her warm, dark eyes searching him for…what? He didn’t know. “You should probably never joke like that.”
The Jasper Dent Series:
FTC Advisory: Little, Brown/Hachette Book Group provided me with a copy of I Hunt Killers. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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