Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book Links: Goodreads
Can Chris Carter do wrong?
No, no he can't, and The Night Stalker continues his detective series in all its fine, depraved glory. With another serial killer loose on the streets of LA, Carter crafts a story that has great progression, a cast that contains compelling heroes and a vicious villain, along with a suitable creepy atmosphere and some shocking scenarios.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, this author's real-life experience in the almost unreal world the majority of us only see on our TV screens sets his stories apart.
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
Women of a certain type are disappearing, only to turn up dead, their mouths and groins sewn shut.
During an autopsy of such a victim, the killer's sheer brutality is exposed, with deadly consequences.
Detective Robert Hunter, a genius in criminal psychology and crimes of a violent nature, is brought in to hunt the person responsible.
But he might not be up to the challenge.
The serial killer leaves no clues, no evidence.
Hunter might as well be chasing a ghost.
A ghost that'll never stop killing...
Plot - 5/5 Stars
The explosive start will have you reeling. It's so unexpected, so vicious, that, your morbid curiosity can't help but be piqued. And from that start Carter shows immeasurable talent when it comes to setting a scene and conveying a tone. The Night Stalker is on par with his previous works, and there shows no sign of the quality dipping.
Throughout this entry's entirety there's just no escape. With compelling characters you're drawn into the thick of things. There's scares, surprises, suspense and some superb action sequences. It all rattles along with the reader working just as hard to connect the dots and solve the case. Carter's inventive imagination is off the scale.
There's a cold and creepy vibe injected into all of the scenes, and you're always on edge. I get a slasher-flick feel to the killer and I kept expecting him to jump out at any second and scare the living hell out of me. The suspense and tension rocks!
Pace - 5/5 Stars
Let's put it simply: The pages turn themselves so goddamn fast that they ruffle your hair.
I love flying through a fantastic piece of thriller fiction.
Characters - 4.5/5 Stars
Robert Hunter, detective extraordinaire is as compelling as ever. I really love him. The balance Carver strikes is riveting. When Hunter has his game face on, he's cold, clinical and effective; when it's off, there's a vulnerable side that echoes from his past. He's an overall badass, and the way his personal history is a slow-burning fire only keeps the reader invested. The Night Stalker gives subtle hints to dark things he's experienced, and while we have a little part of his origins, there's a lot more to come.
Captain Blake, newcomer Whitney (who's not a newcomer for long) and the villain are the other standout cast members for me. Blake is authoritative and capable; Whitney is tough and has a heartbreaking past; and the author does a great job of building up the layers and history behind our serial killer.
The only con I can pinpoint is Garcia, Hunter's partner. I love him in The Crucifix Killer, and he's enjoyable in The Executioner, but this entry finds him, well, not doing much. The poor guy is becoming more and more Hunter's prop, his sounding board. For the majority of the plot he's used as someone to elaborate Robert's thoughts and deductions. There is a moment of redemption at the end where he's instrumental. He's not a burden, but I hope more gets done with him.
Writing - 5/5 Stars
With everything I've said above, Carter's writing is becoming more and more natural. He makes it look easy: Painting vivid, vulgar scenes, structuring a thrilling story, getting each piece of information across expertly... He's definitely a writer to watch.
Overall - 5/5 Stars
An addictive addition to the crime genre and a must for your collection.
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