Author: Barry Lyga
Series: Jasper Dent, #1
Lobo’s Nod was home to one of the country’s most notorious serial killers. Billy Dent stalked, tortured, and murdered over one hundred people until he was finally caught. Just a boy when his father was finally apprehended, Jasper “Jazz” Dent would like nothing more than to forget the man who raised him. I Hunt Killers is the story of a boy trying desperately to escape the fate he is sure awaits him–a fate that condemns him to become the next Billy Dent.
Jazz’s determination places him in another serial killer’s path. The Impressionist is on the loose, taking great joy in mimicking Billy Dent’s first murders. There’s a growing urgency inside Jazz, a need to find this killer and prove that he isn’t like his father even when the voice inside him whispers otherwise.
“He hated most things about Dear Old Dad, but what he hated most was that Dear Old Dad was pretty much always right.”
Jazz is a complex character. He grew up in the hands of a man who wanted nothing more than to continue his legacy through his son. Jazz’s very thought process is a result of this history and in many ways he is very much his father’s son. But there’s another side to Jazz, a side that insists on proving to himself that he is different, that he isn’t simply a product of his genes. It is this part that takes tremendous risks and often proves the very thing it is trying to refute.
Jazz’s inner struggle is both frustrating and compelling to me as a reader. This protagonist is so caught up in second guessing himself that it’s difficult for him to reach a point where he can say without a doubt what he really feels. Are his feelings for his girlfriend Connie real? Does he really care about his best friend Howie? Is he simply playacting his way through life like so many sociopaths before him? Is his very worry about being a sociopath proof that he isn’t or is the truth more complicated than that?
Billy Dent spent a lot of time telling his son that he was just like him, that I’m convinced that this line of thinking is more of a product of brainwashing than an actual representation of who Jazz is. Still, you cannot help be a little unnerved when he evokes a certain emotion out of himself in an effort to draw out certain reactions in others. This is a complicated situation with no easy answers and Jazz doesn’t make it any easier on himself. He’s one of those people who has to come to a conclusion on his own because no amount of reasoning will persuade him.
If that isn’t enough to disturb your sleep, there are those memories that Jazz can’t quite get a clear handle on and the disappearance of his own mother during his father’s reign of terror looms large over him. I Hunt Killers is equal parts horrifying and painful. The end will leave you gasping for breath and starving for the next one.