The latest in the Robert Hunter series (An Evil Mind, 2015, etc.), in which the detective with a Ph.D. in biopsychology investigates ultraviolent serial killers for the LAPD.
Babysitter Nicole Wilson is kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in grisly fashion, and the killer craves credit. He’s inserted a note inside the poor woman’s throat with “I AM DEATH” written in her blood. This is a direct challenge to those the killer calls the “so-called experts” in the LAPD, who are “supposed to be the best of the best.” Enter Hunter and his partner, Carlos Garcia, who know the killer is not about to willingly stop his spree. “He’s defying us to go find him,” Garcia says. Soon, when Sharon Barnard’s boyfriend finds the flight attendant’s butchered corpse, he vomits at the sight. Meanwhile, the killer kidnaps 11-year-old Ricky Temple, whom no one misses, renames him Squirm, routinely beats and rapes him, and keeps him chained in “the perfect place” the bad guy has found to do his bloody deeds. Hunter and Garcia theorize that the killer is not a born sociopath but one whose evil was created by circumstances. Indeed, the killer wants them to understand that something changed him and turned him into “your perfect predator,” a killer by choice and not by compulsion. Suspense builds nicely as the bodies accumulate, police receive taunting notes, and the killer poses a puzzle. A few of the murder details are exceptionally gross, but hey, no one said serial killers are dainty. It’s fast-moving and expertly crafted, and it ends with a zinger. Part of the resolution may confuse readers, though.
A solid entry in the British author’s series. It’s in the same league as Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon or Silence of the Lambs, except that it probably won’t give you nightmares.