Book Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view.And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

My Rating: 5 cupcakes

After finally getting around to watching Dexter, I’ve been intrigued by serial killers and the inner workings of their minds. As sociopaths who are often very intelligent, they have a much different worldview than the average individual which makes them quite interesting to study. In I Hunt Killers, readers find themselves inside the head of the son of the most infamous serial killer, who brings to light the disturbing nature of this profession.

Jasper Dent is an extremely complex and sympathetic character. He’s likeable and in many ways your average teenage boy – aside from his sociopathic tendencies and the fear that he may not be able to stop himself from harming others. At the heart of this fear is the nature vs. nurture debate, which has always intrigued me: can an innate sense of morality overcome an unconventional (read: truly disturbing) upbringing? Or are violent compulsions primarily a product of the environment? These questions are constantly running through Jazz’s mind, to the point where he deliberately chooses a girlfriend who doesn’t fit his father’s typical victim profile. Jazz’s narration is peppered with gallows humour that made me laugh despite the heavy subject matter.

“Jazz hadn’t given her many details of what life in the Dent house had been like, but he’d told her enough that she knew it wasn’t hearts and flowers. Well, except for the occasional heart cut from a chest. And the kind of flowers you send to a funeral.”

I loved these bits of humour that were added to the story – especially the remarks that came from Jazz’s best friend, Howie. Howie is supportive and willing to put himself into all kinds of danger for Jazz. His unconditional love for his best friend was touching and served to humanize Jazz even more, though it also made the serious scenes feel more dramatic and disturbing.

Despite the likeable characters and slightly humourous tone, I Hunt Killers is certainly not for the faint of heart. The descriptions of the murders are graphic, and the psychological aspects are just as dark and disturbing. For the right audience, though, this will provide an unforgettable reading experience.

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