Book one of the I Hunt Killers trilogy
By Barry Lyga
Available now from Little, Brown BFYR (Hachette)
Jasper "Jazz" Dent is the son of the world's most notorious serial killer, Billy Dent. He had a rather unconventional childhood, one that left him able to read blood spatters, manipulate people, and dream of cutting flesh. But he's determined not to follow in his father's footsteps.
I HUNT KILLERS is a truly magnetic book. Jazz's voice is absorbing, haunted and cold and vulnerable. His best friend, Howie, is hilarious and a true pal, even though his hemophilia doesn't make him the best choice to be a serial killer-hunting sidekick. His girlfriend, Connie, has a presence and strength of will that reassures Jazz that he would never hurt her. And he needs his friends, stuck as he his with his crazy grandmother. I liked the adults too, from a social worker who really could help Jazz to G. William Tanner, the hick sheriff who managed what the FBI couldn't.
I HUNT KILLERS opens with a dead girl in a field. A serial killer has come to the tiny town of Lobo's Nod again, and it's up to the police to catch them. Jazz believes he can help due to his special insight. I really liked the balance Barry Lyga pulled off of Jazz having helpful insights vs. the police being actually competent. I also liked that he didn't spend too long in the killer's head - there's no lingering over the perverse details, although there is plenty of violence. This is on the upper end of YA.
The plot and characterization in I HUNT KILLERS are both strong. The hunt for the Impressionist is twisty and genuinely thrilling. The nature vs. nurture debate that Jazz struggles with is compelling, particularly because Lyga doesn't pull punches. Jazz has a genuine capacity for darkness, as shown by his reoccurring nightmares of repressed memories.
This is the best book in the trilogy and can stand alone. I think GAME and BLOOD OF MY BLOOD are worth reading, but I HUNT KILLERS is the gem of the trilogy.