Title: I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1)
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: YA/Psychological thrillers
Date Read: 15/06/2016 – 17/06/2016
This book was very intense. While it was very hard to put down, there was a time when I had to, because its chilling content was causing a disturbing churning in my stomach, but then the second night I was reading it, I accidentally stayed up past midnight with it. The reason that I knocked a half-star off my rating is that this chill factor did wear off about halfway through, which, while a relief, was also a bit disappointing,
Jasper “Jazz” Dent is the son of one of the 21st Century’s most notorious serial killers, Butcher Billy, whose body count is over 100. As you can imagine, Jazz didn’t grow up in the most normal of environments. He is terrified of turning into his father, and when a copycat murderer shows up in his hometown, he decides to help the police with their investigation, in the hopes of at least proving to them that he should not be their main suspect, and proving to himself that he is better than his father.
Jazz is a really unique character among YA protagonists. Lyga has clearly done his research because the effects of Billy Dent’s brainwashing on Jazz are clear, as are other parts of Jasper’s psychology, such as his occasional moments of sociopathy. He is a charmer, he can manipulate people to his will, and if he forgets to remind himself that all people are real and deserving of a life, he does start viewing them as expendable. He also has some repressed memories starting to rear their ugly heads, and isn’t entirely sure what to make of them.
The book is structured in such a way that Jazz’ flashbacks to his father’s bragging after kills, and other awful memories are woven seamlessly into the main murder plot. Billy Dent is terrifying; it was one of these flashbacks that made me have to close the book for the night because I was feeling spooked. It also deals with some of the other harsh realities of being the son of such an infamous figure, such as parents of Billy’s murder victims tracking him down and wanting to talk to him to find some kind of closure.
Jazz is accompanied by some really great side characters, particularly Connie, his girlfriend, and Howie, his best friend. Both of them supported him despite knowing who his father was, and keep him grounded when he starts going off the rails.
Overall, this is an incredibly strong series opener, which I recommend, though it is definitely not for the faint of heart!