Detective Robert Hunter of the LAPD’s Homicide Special Section receives an anonymous call asking him to go to a specific web address – a private broadcast. Hunter logs on and a show devised for his eyes only immediately begins. But the caller doesn’t want Detective Hunter to just watch, he wants him to participate, and refusal is simply not an option. Forced to make a sickening choice, Hunter must sit and watch as an unidentified victim is tortured and murdered live over the Internet. The LAPD, together with the FBI, use everything at their disposal to electronically track the transmission down, but this killer is no amateur, and he was more than prepared for it. Before Hunter and his partner Garcia are even able to get their investigation going, Hunter receives a new phone call. A new website address. A new victim. But this time the killer has upgraded his game into a live murder reality show, where anyone can cast the deciding vote.

Chris Carter has quickly carved out a niche for himself in the realm of the psychological serial killer thriller, and One By One marks the fifth outing for his detectives Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia. Tapping into the fertile world of social networking and the sometimes insidious influence of the Internet, Carter has produced a truly chilling crime read, which most scarily could eventually happen…

Robert Hunter of the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division finds himself receiving the very personal attention of a cold calm killer: a killer who posts videos online of his victims on the verge of death, their fate to be decided in a voting system by those who click the link. Thanks to the propensity of video to quickly go viral globally, Hunter and his stalwart partner Detective Garcia, along with the finest brains in the FBI Cybercrime Division, face a race against the clock to reveal the connection between the victims of this twisted killer’s game and close in on the perpetrator of these heinous acts. Carter has a natural knack for tapping in to our worst nightmares and by bringing this storyline so realistically alive, the reader is imbued with a real sense that horrifyingly this plot is all too easily imaginable in a world so influenced by the power, and less than savoury activities, to be found on the medium of the internet. Once again, I would issue a warning to the more fainthearted of readers as to the visceral detail of the crimes committed, but for the more ghoulish amongst you they really are quite engrossing and the killer’s motivation is an interesting, and a surprisingly sympathetic one, when they are eventually unmasked.

Perhaps due to the demands of the compressed and quickly moving plot, which Carter unfolds in his normal meticulous style, there is little time for any real further development of the relationship between Hunter and Garcia- a kind of cerebral Batman and Robin. However, regular and new readers alike will quickly recognise the intrinsic understanding and closeness between them, gleaned from not only this book, but by the careful addition of references to previous investigations. As the two have plumbed the depths of a series of evil and twisted killers, there is almost a sense of telepathy between them in their actions and reactions that is seldom replicated in other crime novels, and in Carter’s portrayal of these two men, and the differences between them in a psychological sense, once again, their professional and personal relationship lies at the heart of the strength of this series. One By One homes in on, not only the natural humour and camararderie between them, but also the strength of their symbiotic relationship, when this killer comes a little too close for comfort to one of the detectives nearest and dearest. Throw into the mix, Michelle Kelly, a former hacker and now a cyber geek for the FBI who teams up with our intrepid duo, who I found a very compelling character and liked what she brought to the plot, and you will not be disappointed. With great plotting, a precision control of pace and tension, and assured characterisation, Chris Carter once again proves his worth in this thrilling and chilling tale. Scary stuff…

 Born in Brazil of Italian origin, Chris Carter studied psychology and criminal behaviour at the University of Michigan. As a member of the Michigan State District Attorney’s Criminal Psychology team, he interviewed and studied many criminals, including serial and multiple homicide offenders with life imprisonment convictions. http://www.chriscarterbooks.com

See Miles’ review of One By One here: http://www.milorambles.com

See my review of The Death Sculptor here: Chris Carter– The Death Sculptor.

See my review of The Hunter here: Chris Carter– The Hunter.

(With thanks to Simon & Schuster for the ARC)

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