HELLO CHARLIE by Charlie Hess


Letters from a Serial Killer
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Ex-cops track a killer in Colorado.

In 1995, Robert Charles Browne was arrested for the 1991 murder of 13-year-old Heather Dawn Church. Six years later, retired 70-something former FBI and CIA agent Hess was alerted to a note written by Browne in which the convicted murderer cryptically implied that Church wasn’t his only victim. Aided by fellow septuagenarian law enforcer Lou Smit and local newspaper reporter Scott Fischer, Hess dove headlong into the case and opened up lines of communication with Browne, eventually (and inexplicably) becoming friends with the killer. Was Browne really as evil as his actions suggested? Did Hess break the case? If you care, stay tuned next week for a very special episode of…well…some cop show or another. A patently good public servant but an amateurish and plodding writer, Hess offers details galore about Browne, the case, Smit and himself, but his ornate descriptions of everything—people, places, case facts, etc.—slows the momentum to the point that by the time the story kicks in around chapter nine, the reader’s interest will barely be flickering. Also problematic is the author’s attempt to incorporate all points of view and include events that he wasn’t privy to. Hess and co-author Davin Seay write in the omniscient third person, making the narrative imbalanced: The only “character” we ever truly get to know is Hess himself. While clearly a monster, Browne isn’t as compelling a figure as, say, Ted Bundy; the book will certainly appeal to serial-killer buffs, but few others.

Comes off as an R-rated episode of Cold Case.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4165-4485-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2007