4 stars out of 5
As I've mentioned before, I'm always on the lookout for a good series; these books make great fill-ins when I want a break from tackling my ever-growing list of free-for-review books and standalones from favorite authors that I read just because, well, they're from my favorite authors. Besides that, I'm hoping to find a series that will appeal to my husband, who loves to read the same types of books I do but, for better or worse, is much harder to please.
When a Goodreads.com friend made me aware of this series, then, I didn't waste much time grabbing this, the first one. Without question, I enjoyed it. And while the gory serial killer aspect probably won't entice my hubby to try it, I'm sure he'd like the main man, homicide Detective Robert Hunter (as did I, especially since he was a child prodigy who earned a degree in psychology at age 19 and a Ph.D. in criminal behavior analysis and biopsychology four years later). On top of that, any guy who loves single-malt Scotch can't be all bad.
This story begins with the discovery of a young woman's body; she's been gruesomely tortured, mutilated (all the skin was ripped off her face while she was alive, for instance, which gives you a good idea of the tenor of the book) and has a double cross design cut into the back of her neck. The latter is a huge cause for concern for Hunter; it marks the signature of a serial killer he helped capture two years earlier - a man who was executed for his grisly crimes. Hunter had a few misgivings back then, but now he's afraid the wrong person was convicted and the real psychopath is back plying his gruesome trade.
This time around, Hunter - who is dealing with issues of his own including doubts about his former partner's supposedly accidental death - is working with a newbie partner Garcia. The first chapter sets out what Hunter is up against, and from that point on, the action never stops. People are biting the dust right and left and Hunter and his partner are sure something "connects" them all; but how long will it take (and how many more murders) before can they find out what that is and correctly identify the killer this time around?
To be honest, I had a few issues with the book, such as the occasional grammatical error and terms that are more British than American (the author lives in the U.K. but the story is set in Los Angeles, so there shouldn't be any language crossover). Another niggle is that all the characters are exceptionally well spoken, so every time the word "ain't" popped out of their mouths - which was quite often - it elicited a discord reminiscent of fingernails running down a chalkboard. But I also figure some of that goes with the territory for a series debut - and I'm confident the books will get even better as they go along (as of this writing, there are seven in all, I believe). Now, I just have to find time to read them!
The Crucifix Killer by Chris Carter (Simon & Schuster UK, October 2009); 448 pp.