Jasper (Jazz) Dent, the protagonist in Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers is the son of Billy Dent, the infamous serial killer. His father’s idea of “take your kid to work day” was to make his son help him clean up evidence, and like a teenage Dexter, Jazz has killing in his blood.
With his father incarcerated, he lives with his insane paternal grandmother. His mother has disappeared a few years back and Jazz is convinced Billy killed her, but when he has disturbing dreams of his father coaching him on killing, Jazz begins to fear that he’s destined to become a serial killer like his dad.
No one believes Jasper Dent when he tells the Police that a new serial killer is at large in Lobo’s Nod. The last time a murder happened was two years ago, right before Jazz’s dad was locked up in a high-security jail out of town. But Jazz knows his dad’s ever-morphing “signature” and has tracked Billy’s every single “masterpiece” from memory and newspapers. So Jazz takes it upon himself to use his twisted childhood for good, to catch the killer, and to prove to the world–and more importantly himself–that his father and upbringing doesn’t condemn him to being the next great serial killer.
The story is a rather quick read, but the style feels all but rushed. In fact, Lyga takes his time fleshing out the details of the crime scenes of Billy’s past victims and the new crop of killings as Jazz compares the two in an attempt to predict who the next victim will be. The author immediately draws the reader in with a colorful cast of distinct characters, witty remarks, and of course: suspense. Jazz’s hyper-alert mind and extensive knowledge of criminology and forensics may remind the reader of a Sherlock Holmes adventure (sidenote: I love the BBC Sherlock series. It’s free on Netflix, everyone should watch it!).
While this novel is considered Young Adult Fiction, there are some semi-graphic descriptions of torture, so be forewarned. I highly recommend this book.