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Khanh the Killjoy

I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers - Actual rating: 4.5A dark psychological thriller. I have to admit, this wasn't what I expected. Given the premise, I anticipated something more flimsy, something along the lines of Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective. I got a young Dexter/John Cleaver, with considerably more emotional baggage. This book works for me more as a psychological analysis than anything. Yeah, the plot is there, and it is good. The mystery kept me guessing and I loved seeing things through the eyes of the killer, but the psychoanalytical aspects of this book blew the actual storyline out of the water. Psych 101? Please. I gained more insight into the human mind from this book than from anything I learned in that class.Or maybe I just slept through that class. Whatever, I PASSED, OK?Jasper's father is a serial killer, the worst (meaning the best, and not the most terrible) serial killer of all time. He has killed 123...or 124, people before stupidly getting caught, and now poor Jazz is left to grow up pretty much on his own in a town where his name is notorious for being the child of a serial killer who got caught. Nobody held him accountable for his father's crimes since he is a juvenile, and not an actual accessory to his father's crimes despite the fact that his dad has been practically grooming him to take over the "family business" since he's been in action---meaning started killing people. Jasper (Jazz) is extremely intelligent for his age, he's got the street savvy, he's got the smooth-talking skills down, he's got dear old dad's skills of persuasion, and some others that he wish he didn't. Now, there's another killer loose in the town of Lobo's Nod, Jazz thinks it's a serial killer but nobody believes him, and he's out to investigate.Not the smartest move if you want to stay under the radar, but I suppose if he acted intelligently and kept his head low, this book wouldn't exist.Jazz: I loved Jazz's character, his complexity, his conflicting desires. This book is an insight into his head, the psychological torment that he goes through day by day knowing that he is his father's son. He struggles with his desires to do good and the darker parts of him that might be a little too close to his father than he likes. The conflict inside him is beautifully written. From the charismatic, normal front he puts up daily to fool others, to his deeper inner struggles with his father's programming. He's got a dark sense of humor, and I rather like that as a bit of a break within such a dark tale. Children are so impressionable, and even if his father got caught, the years and years of grooming affected his mind more than he wants to believe. He doesn't want to be like his father...who, besides the most twisted, mentally ill children wants to emulate a serial killer when they grow up---but Jazz can't help growing up the way he did, having witnessed what he did, and having the same blood running through his veins. Jazz knows his own terrifying potential, should he allow it to grow."'But you don't want to kill people,' she'd said with finality, and Jazz had let the conversation die right there. Because the only honest response would have been:It's not that I want to or don't want to. It's just…I can. I could. It's like…I imagine it's like being a great runner. If you knew you could run really fast, wouldn’t you? If you were stuck walking somewhere, wouldn't you want to let loose and run like hell? That's how I feel."Jazz wants to do good, but he has to constantly fight the monster that's lurking within himself, however much he wants to suppress it."She was dying. Dying right in front of him, and he didn't trust himself to help her because he didn't trust his hands not to finish the job instead...She was in the full throes of cardiac arrest.Jazz didn't think. He didn't torture himself. He tilted her head back and listened for breathing. Nothing. A moment of intense pleasure washed over him, followed by a revulsion so sickening that he almost threw himself headlong out the window."The insight into his life post-dad is pretty interesting, too. You know all the sicko serial killer fans? He's got that, just by being the infamous son. He's got media following him, exposing him (is that even legal? to show a juvenile in this circumstance in the media? Fucking Doug Weathers). He's got people wanting to give him money. He's got grieving parents contacting him for closure.He's got people angry at him, asking why he didn't just stop his dad. Simple: "like the children of alcoholics and the victims of abuse, Jazz had been a master at compartmentalizing. That, combined with Billy's persistent brainwashing and total control, meant Jazz had never uttered a peep to anyone."The plot: interesting, but I can't help thinking JAZZ YOU IDIOT. JUST STAY AWAY. MOVE TO ANOTHER TOWN. When you're the child of a serial killer, wouldn't it be wisest to just stay out of the picture? Especially for a kid so smart, so savvy, so good at manipulating people and appearing normal like Jazz supposedly is? It doesn't make sense to me why he'd want to get so involved. Disbelief aside, the mystery itself, the procedures, the glimpses into the serial killer's work was well-done. The clues were given gradually, and that in combination with the flashes of POV through the killer's eyes makes this an excellent armchair detective novel. I was constantly guessing for the whodunnit through all the little bits and pieces given. There is gore, there is blood and torture, but it's nothing the average viewer of CSI or Criminal Minds haven't seen before.I liked all the characters. The villains, the cops, not everything is black and white. People grow, people change. Even Jazz himself is not immune to foolishness, regret, and hubris. My main concern before starting this book was the premise...a boy, just a boy, doing better detective work than the police themselves? I expected detectives to be bumbling fools, I expected people to compartmentalize Jazz, I epected this to be a Them against Me story. I was wrong. Everything and everyone had more depth than I expected.Oh, and the ending. Did I see that coming? Nope, nope, not from 10 miles away. Damn.