Review: Killer (By Stephen Carpenter)

Killer Source: Goodreads

Killer
        Source: Goodreads

Length: 230 pages

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Jack Rhodes had just published a true crime book about killers, one that was slowly growing in sale numbers. He was finally making it as the author he’d always hoped to be… until his fiancee killed herself and left him without any answers to the innumerable questions that began to plague him. Jack ran away from his thoughts, ran away from the pain and finally found solace in drunken ignorance.

Fifteen months later he woke up chained to the bed in a hospital, suspected of murder. With no alcohol within reach, Jack became sober for the first time in fifteen months. With the bartender’s alibi, Jack found himself dropped of all charges of the murder of Richard Bell, a man he’d never met and definitely not murdered. With a new start at life, Jack decides to make some changes. He moves to a quiet cabin in Vermont, away from populated civilization and loses himself once again – to writing.

Five years later, he’s the best selling author of three books with a fourth about to be completed. His first book, Killer, introduces a serial killer who goes on to murder one woman in each of the four books, a killer whose identity remains unknown. Jack doesn’t know from where he gets his ideas or inspiration. In fact, he hates being asked that question. But when a woman’s body is discovered and everything about her murder, including her name, is creepily similar to that of Jack’s first book, he’s forced to face the question once again – because the woman was murdered before his book had been written.

With three women dead in his books and bodies turning up in real life, bodies of women who’d been dead long before the books, Jack and the police realize that he knows too much about the murders, as much as only the killer would. Without any idea of why he knows the details of the murders, Jack goes from person of interest to number one suspect. The FBI agents that he’d once befriended in his line of work turn against him… and Jack runs. With the FBI and police catching up to him, Jack works to save the woman to be murdered next in his series and to dig into the long lost memories of his fifteen months of drunken bliss; because the answers to the murders, and Jack’s involvement, lie within the depths of those forgotten months.

My take:

Killer is a fast paced, twist filled read that doesn’t shy from throwing you into wonder about what may happen next. Stephen Carpenter has woven a great tale of mystery that moves along at a good speed. While I wouldn’t call the book unputdownable, it was definitely interesting enough to make you wonder what’s going to happen next, even if it can’t make you obsess about it. With a hoard of books that discuss copycat murders, Killer takes an interesting turn on the age old concept that will leave you guessing about Jack’s innocence and guilt.

Carpenter creates a good mix of characters, all of who do justice to their roles and the story. What adds to the charm of the book is the stories that run parallel, giving you a good insight into the killer’s mind and leaving you more in doubt about Jack’s association with the murders. The stories converge to create a great climax, one that is unpredictable and gives you all that you’d hoped for.

The only (minor) glitch in Killer was, according to me, the writing style. I’m not a great fan of the style that Carpenter adopts but he does it well enough to get used to it and fast. After that, it’s just an unfolding of events as they happen, giving you a look into the confusion and torment that Jack faces as he struggles to uncover his own involvement.

Carpenter’s style is similar to that of Daniel Stanton (author of City of Champions). Although not as vivid, descriptive or violent, Killer takes you through the character’s story just as City of Champions did – right as it happens. It can be more confusing than Stanton’s work, but that can be credited to the parallel stories. The confusion does clear up quickly enough, making you want to know what happens next in each of the stories and leaving you guessing abut how they might meet. Not too descriptive on the violence, Killer describes graphic scenes in a simplistic manner, its matter of fact approach adding its own bit to the creepy quotient of the book.

Killer doesn’t have any truly disturbing or thrilling scenes and I think it would be safe to categorize it as a crime mystery with just a splash of thrills. A unique story line, interesting characters and good story telling makes Killer a good book for lovers of mystery and crime and anyone looking for something interesting, quick, and not too long. If you look for crime thrillers with a good amount of creeps, thrills and chills, you will have to look beyond Killer. But if you’re a fan of mystery books and anything to do with serial killers, then you should spend some time on Killer. It is the first book in a series and although the next one is not high on my list of reads, it definitely made the list.

– Rishika

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