His most valuable possession has been stolen.
Now he must retrieve it, at any cost.
Angela Wood wanted to teach the man a lesson. It was a bag, just like all the others.
But when she opens it, the worst nightmare of her life begins.
A journal ends up at Robert Hunter’s desk. It soon becomes clear that there is a serial killer on the loose. And if he can’t stop him in time, more people will die.
I have now completely lost track of how many of Chris Carter’s books I have read and reviewed, and always look forward to my new dose of darkness, murder and sheer damned twistedness, that his killers possess in spades. So, bring on Written In Blood and let’s see what depths of depravity we will witness now…
I love the familiarity of this series, and the fact that no matter how long it is between books, I am immediately transported back into the world of the LA Ultra Violent Crimes Unit, (love the insertion of the word ultra here) and the welcoming embrace of detectives Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia. The absolute lynchpin of the books for me is the strength of the professional relationship between these two very different men, united by a fierce determinedness to track the most heinous of killers, whilst endeavouring to keep a grip on their own moral compass in the face of extreme evil. The differing facets of their characters and aspects of their personal lives are polar opposites in every way, but somehow this just makes them into a highly effective and tight crime fighting duo- like Batman and Robin sans pantyhose.
Carter always succeeds in balancing the natural intuitive intelligence and inner torments of Hunter, with the easy, impulsive charm and slight naivety of his partner Garcia. That’s not to say that Garcia does not have his own moments of lightbulb realisation, but he proves to be an incredibly useful sounding board for Hunter. Garcia is always used effectively as a conduit between the reader and the finer aspects of their cases, asking the questions we would ask, and drawing us further into the mechanics of the investigation. As usual, the dialogue and interactions between the two are fluid, snappy and natural with the measured responses of Hunter balanced with the more fiery and reactionary passion of Garcia, that always adds a lively dynamic to the books. I also very much enjoyed the introduction of the streetwise pickpocket Angela into the mix, not only for the way she interrupts the more mechanical aspects of the case itself, but her mix of ballsiness and fragility was beautifully balanced.
Another aspect of this series that I am always impressed by is that at times Carter plays a game of smoke and mirrors with his readers, in the way he manipulates our responses to not only the victims, but oftentimes the killer themselves. This is particularly redolent in this book, and I found myself forming an uneasy empathy with the killer, with certain aspects of their motivation and drive bringing a sympathetic edge to my reading of this character. As much as Hunter and Garcia are honour bound to do the very best for their victims, and the author keeps the victims at the forefront, I do enjoy the way Carter messes slightly with our perceptions along the way. Carter has carved a real niche in the serial killer thriller genre, not just relying on overt shocks and violence to hook the reader, but also providing a fascinating insight into the compulsions and motivations of the perpetrators. He also perfectly measures the shocks and reveals, particularly in the closing lines of a chapter, driving the reader on to one more chapter, one more chapter, champing at the bit to know what happens next, until you find yourselves swiftly nearing the end of the book. Written In Blood is no exception, and definitely a recommended read.
(With thanks to Simon & Schuster for the ARC)
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