Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Barry Lyga
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Jasper “Jazz” Dent is the son of the world’s most notorious serial killer, Billy Dent. It’s been a few years since Billy was caught and put in prison for over a hundred murders, but the effects of being raised by a serial killer have never left Jazz. Despite his attempts to lead a quiet life, Jasper’s world takes a turn for the worst when bodies start appearing again in his small town. Bodies that have been tortured, murdered, posed in the same way that Billy’s kills used to be. The most likely suspect: Jasper Dent. In an effort to clear his name—and prove to himself that he is not nor ever will be like his father—Jazz joins the police in looking for the culprit. With the help of his best friend Howie and girlfriend Connie, Jazz uncovers the pattern behind the copycat, only to have the culprit follow him home and nearly kill him. Yet after the police arrest the impersonator, the story is left completely open because Jazz finds a letter written to the impersonator with instructions that seem to be from Billy Dent himself.
I Hunt Killers is a gripping psychological thriller and murder mystery. The story moves at an excellent pace, alternating from slow and thoughtful to heart-poundingly fast. The characters are developed well. The discussion of nature versus nurture as readers delve into Jasper’s mind is intriguing. And although the idea of a teenage boy and his friends becoming officially involved in a murder case is a little unbelievable, Barry Lyga does a great job of helping his audience suspend their disbelief. There are some graphic depictions of violence, and the premise is a bit disturbing, but overall the novel is a fascinating look at human tenacity in the face of evil and the struggle of overcoming the past in order to live well in the present.
*Contains mild language, moderate violence, and moderate sexual content.