Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.
This week’s featured book is I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga:
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 32 minutes
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Hachette Audio
- Source: Personal copy
Jazz isn’t your typical teenager. His father, Billy Dent, just happens to be an incarcerated serial killer, one of the most prolific killers of modern times. As a child, Jazz was immersed in his father’s sick obsession so now as a young adult, he’s desperate to prevent himself from becoming the man his father wants him to be. Every little urge has Jazz wondering if this is how his father started out, if they are the early warning signs of his evolution into a sociopath.
In an attempt to right his father’s wrongs, and perhaps ease his conscience a little, Jazz helps his small time police force hunt down a new serial killer called the Impressionist. Using the expertise he gained from his father, Jazz soon realizes that the Impressionist is mimicking his father’s killing career. Luckily, Jazz is so familiar with each of his father’s victims that he is able to predict the Impressionist’s next steps. Will it be soon enough?
When I first learned about the premise of this book, I thought it was going to be a horrible take on the Dexter series. I was prepared to be let down; luckily, in this case, I was proven quite wrong. Lyga provides readers a truly chilling psychological thriller. The knowledge Jazz has about his father’s victims is so terrifying, it amazes me that this character is as “normal” as he appears to be. Growing up with a father telling you that cutting human flesh is just like cutting chicken would be enough to forever damage your average youth. Not Jazz, however. He’s dead set against becoming the man his father, and the local small town citizens, believe he is fated to be.
The secondary characters are quite rich. First, we have Connie, Jazz’s girlfriend. She’s safe…mainly because she is African American and statistics prove that they are rarely the victims of serial killers. Then there is his best friend and hemophiliac, Howie, a kid who bruises if you look at him wrong. A truly eclectic slate of characters that add a bit of comedy to potentially very dark novel. Given that this is a book about a serial killer, it’s pretty obvious that there will be some pretty gruesome scenes but it’s nothing too excessive or graphic.
I listened to the audio production of this book, narrated by Charlie Thurston. This is my first experience with this narrator and I hope it won’t be my last. He captures Jazz’s character, his anguish and pain and frustration, perfectly. He truly does a stellar job at narrating, making me forget that I’m actually not listening to the voice of a young man.
Bottom line: I Hunt Killers is a truly amazing and gratifying novel. I’m hoping it’s the start of a new series because I’m hooked!