If he's thinking about you,
you're already dead...
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book Links: Goodreads
It's always dangerous to mess with a winning formula, especially when you reach the sixth entry in a fantastic series. Chris Carter does exactly that with An Evil Mind, and pulls it off! A little author's note at the beginning of the novel forewarns stout readers that this instalment will differ from past ones. This little paragraph itself is like a shot of pure fear.
Why? Well, you see those movies that have a disclaimer at the beginning proclaiming Based on true events...? An Evil Mind has something similar, and a hell of a lot more sinister. Carter informs us that this time round he'll be using real-life facts and situations, and while you get the sense his previous works contain his experience as a criminal psychologist, having a dedicated page tell us he's going to be pulling heavily from real events, well, prepare yourselves...
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
Preparing himself for a much-needed vacation, Detective Robert Hunter of the LAPD is leaving the dark world of serial killers behind, at least for awhile.
But, as fate would have it, Hunter won't be catching some rays on a beach.
Freak events uncover a serial killer that no one even knew existed.
One that's been in the game for roughly twenty-five years.
Asked for personally by the suspect, Hunter hits the ground running, and smashes into a former friend.
His friend professes his innocence.
And Hunter is dragged into what might be the most prolific hunt of his career...
Plot - 5/5 Stars
Picking up a few days after the conclusion of One by One, An Evil Mind delivers exactly what its title promises, and with Carter at the helm and the declaration on the veracity of this story's inspiration, you can be assured you're in for a ride.
The feeling that this entry to the series is different, holds. The pace is slower (more on that below), but overall that's not a negative. There's a deeper, more weightier and thoughtful taste as our interest is piqued. Something big is going on, and the author, throughout the entirety of this novel, masterfully subverts the reader's predictive abilities. It's a psychological brain-fuck! (Pardon my language.)
An Evil Mind continues to switch it up by revealing the killer early on after a few mind games. Those games however only increase in severity as our serial killer taunts Hunter and the FBI, and we're treated to an in-depth analysis of the mind of a deranged murderer. It's a cat-and-mouse clash of intellects that's hooking.
Plus, this entry to the series is intense (if you haven't gleaned that already). It's majorly scary, scary good, of course, but scary all the same. A large part, if not the majority, of the story centres on numerous interviews with Lucien, the terrifying killer. There's an obvious The Silence of the Lambs feel, but Carter knows his stuff better than most. Instead of derailing everything with its slower development, this style works surprisingly well. It's full of chills and calm chaos that there's nothing for you to do but read.
But that style doesn't last forever, and Carter steps up the game for the final act: Action-packed, intense and full of nasty twists, the end to An Evil Mind rocks you to your core with fear and, eventually, satisfaction.
Pace - 4.5/5 Stars
The pace takes a second to get used to, especially if you're reading the books close together. It is a departure like promised, but it also morphs into its own success. Allowing the progress of the plot to be less immediate means that the tension isn't something that just hits you, but it's something that builds, and builds, and builds, until finally it explodes.
Characters - 5/5 Stars
While the plot works its deceptive and manipulative magic, Carter also focuses heavily on his main cast. And I mean heavily. Hunter, who up until this point has had a mysterious past, is given the all-cylinders treatment. We get a lot, and it goes a long way to explaining our protagonist and the actions we've come to respect. Previous entries have given us a little: Hunter's mother died of cancer when he was little and his father died years later during a robbery at the bank where he worked; Hunter himself has always been exceptionally bright, flying through his education and graduating from Stanford University at the age of nineteen.
He's cool, calm and collected demeanour gives way to a golden heart; his often clinical observations are balanced by his astounding ability to connect and empathise. But, throughout the series, he refuses to enter into any long-term romantic entanglements. An Evil Mind helps explain that and many other holes in his history, and at the same time, it builds him just that bit more effectively.
Lucien, Hunter's best friend from university and the evil of this novel, is chilling beyond belief. He's most certainly Robert's mirror image, and the poetry of the two is conflictingly enjoyable. They are both two incredible minds, opposite sides of the coin: One, Hunter, has always wanted to understand the minds of killers so he can catch them and make the world safer; two, Lucien, wants to understand a killer's mind on a more personal and methodical level, by being one of those killers.
It's a battle of epic proportions, without any fists or bullets.
While there are a plethora of other characters, only one other helps complete this triumvirate, and that person is FBI agent Courtney Taylor. No slouch herself intellectually, she's still out of her depth. Lucien delights in playing with her, but her role not only helps save someone living, but she helps resolve cases and give closure to families all over America. The tragic end that lies in store is truly one of the most heartbreaking scenes within this story. It's unexpected, and I mean that truly.
Garcia isn't in An Evil Mind, though he is mentioned a couple times. Probably off enjoying his well-earned holiday, and I hope he returns in the next instalment.
Writing - 5/5 Stars
Simply: It takes a lot for an author to pull something like this off; to radically rearrange a series' formula and make it in some ways better. Even if this is the new style for his future works, I will be continuing.
Overall - 5/5 Stars
Gosh, the intensity...
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