An especially sadistic serial killer taunts the feds in this grim thriller.
When police investigate a car accident in Wyoming, they find a pair of severed heads in the trunk. The FBI steps in and quickly collars a suspect, Liam Shaw, who says “I will only speak to Robert Hunter.” By that, Shaw means Los Angeles detective and criminal profiler Robert Hunter. The FBI borrows him from the LAPD, and they quickly learn that the suspect’s real name is Lucien Folter, a former good friend and classmate of Hunter’s at Stanford. It turns out that Folter has worked hard to live up to his last name, which means “torture” in German. He never denies any of his murders but delights in stringing Hunter and associates along. As long as he withholds information about the fates and whereabouts of missing people, he can make federal agents dance like puppets. “I can guarantee you this—you have never encountered anyone quite like me,” Folter tells Hunter. Folter is a meticulous planner who shows “a very high level of sadism, arrogance, and pride together with a tremendous sense of achievement and pleasure in what he’s done.” Maybe he even thinks he’s killing for “a noble cause.” Readers will need strong stomachs to put up with some of the gruesome details of his accomplishments, but the story is well-plotted and -executed—pun intended—and the author creates a level of tension that will compel readers to turn the pages. The initial personal connection between hunter and torturer is a stretch, but it sets up one hell of a contest, with the outcome anything but assured.
A true battle of good versus evil. Readers averse to violence and gore may want to avoid this one, but for others, it’s a compelling read.