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I Hunt Killers #1

I Hunt Killers

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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?

359 pages, Hardcover

First published April 3, 2012

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About the author

Barry Lyga

79 books2,089 followers
Barry Lyga is a recovering comic book geek. According to Kirkus, he's also a "YA rebel-author." Somehow, the two just don't seem to go together to him.

When he was a kid, everyone told him that comic books were garbage and would rot his brain, but he had the last laugh. Raised on a steady diet of comics, he worked in the comic book industry for ten years, but now writes full-time because, well, wouldn't you?

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy & Goth Girl is his first novel. Unsoul'd is his latest. There are a whole bunch in between, featuring everything from the aftermath of child abuse to pre-teens with superpowers to serial killers. He clearly does not know how to stick to one subject.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,297 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,631 reviews34k followers
March 30, 2012
4.5 stars Do you believe violent offenders are the product of nature or nurture?

In the case of 17-year-old Jasper “Jazz” Dent, he’s got both factors working against him. Not only is he the son of the country’s most notorious serial killer, but dear old daddy even forced him to watch those grisly crimes and sometimes…more.

I’ve always been interested in how human beings cope with extreme circumstances, and the way children in particular can demonstrate remarkable resilience. I Hunt Killers sets up a fascinating scenario showing how both environment and biology can contribute to certain conditioned responses and behaviors—and how an innate sense of human decency might be strong enough to overcome even the worst of upbringings. At least that’s what Jazz keeps telling himself. Because now that he suspects that a new serial killer is at work in his small town, he’s flashing back to memories that make him extremely uneasy. Did he help kill someone he loved without knowing it? Is he destined to follow in his father’s footsteps?

What sets this novel apart from all the other paint-by-numbers mysteries is that Jazz is an incredibly complex, believable character. The book has been billed as “Dexter for YA” and it’s an apt comparison; Jazz is likable, relatable, and consumed by the idea that he may not be able to stop himself from doing harm to others. The story itself is engaging, with the masterfully detailed, well-researched criminology aspects related in an accessible way. The book is also HILARIOUS from beginning to end. I didn’t expect to be laughing so much at a book about a possible serial killer in the making, but it’s impossible to resist the graveyard banter running through Jazz’s seasoned, offhand narrative.

Making a duplicate key from a wax impression was an extremely useful skill to have if you were the sort of person who liked invading other people’s homes and killing them.

And later, his best friend Howie earnestly asks him what his middle name is, because he’s sure that serial killers all have three names! The choice to use humor to hook the reader into the story is brilliant, and I thoroughly enjoyed being in Jazz’s conflicted and absurdly playful head.

Despite its humorous tone and exceptional writing, however, my guess is that this is going to be an extremely polarizing book. Its refusal to look away from the often horrific nature of brutal crimes and twisted mind games will be shocking to readers who aren’t used to these kinds of details. Early in the book we’re eased into some crimes because they’re mostly told in past tense, but the later scenes definitely escalate in tension and violence, although I don’t think they really cross the line in terms of being gratuitous rather than graphic.

If I had to quibble about anything, I’d say that Jazz’s give and take relationship with the police is something readers will need to accept, although their doubtful reliance upon him is portrayed in a fairly believable tone. And as with all murder novels, I wasn’t particularly keen on the few scenes told from the killer’s point of view. But those things are really almost incidental when the writing is nearly pitch-perfect in balancing ghoulish humor and a macabre subject.

It’s so exciting to see YA that pushes boundaries in this way. While I confess that I'm a little uneasy about the idea of 13-year-old being exposed to this sort of information, I don’t think the book contains too much explicit material that older teens or adults already haven’t seen in other forms of entertainment. I strongly urge readers to carefully consider whether this is a subject that they want to read about, however, because this book certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. But for the right audience, this thriller will hit all the right notes for an unforgettable reading experience. Its dark, disturbing, and devilishly funny vibe is pure genius.

This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher. Recommended for mature teens and adults only.

ARC Giveaway!

If you’re intrigued by the sound of this book, stay tuned. We’ll be giving away an advance readers copy next week on the blog!
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,534 reviews9,937 followers
May 14, 2021
I fourfold this trilogy on my shelf and attempted the reread but I just couldn’t get into it. I flipped through the other two books and I’m just going to unhaul them. I just can’t get into them any more. Although, the third book has a beautiful cover. Oh well, more space for other books!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,447 reviews1,111 followers
November 14, 2018
Guilty confession: When I first started this, I was not expecting much. The summary left me skeptical to a good plot but I was determined to try because I had already heard lots of great things about the sequel to this one. What I can say now is that I am so glad I did. This book is so much more than what it seems on the surface!

As I began, I was torn or the style in which the story was presented. At first it seemed short and abrupt. Normally this would annoy me but after the first couple chapters I was quickly captivated by the thought process of young Jasper (more commonly known as Jazz) Dent. Once you get to understand him, the style it is written in makes so much more sense and fits to his personality and lifestyle.

This poor guy has lived a life of hell! A serial killer for a father who's victims were in the triple digits. After his father is caught is stuck with his deranged grandmother. What a crazy coot she is! He is so worried his mentality is like his fathers. He has seen WAY too much horror for his age. How can it not twist a person?

When a new serial killer makes an appearance in his town, Jazz is determined to help solve it. To absolve himself, to clear his name or prove just what kind of person he really is no one knows. Jazz is smart and methodical but no matter how much he tries, he can never escape his father's shadow. Especially when the killers methods strike too close to home for comfort!

I cannot express enough how much I enjoyed this. A great psychological thriller and mystery. The mental battles Jazz goes through are so well described. You really feel you are right there in his brain, working through everything with him. Jazz is terrified of his own capabilities to kill. Questioning if he has killed, figuring how easy it would be to kill... Then trying to solve the crimes and save his friends!

This book goes through a wide range of mental processes one might experience under such a life. Almost makes you wonder about the author... (just kidding!). There is action, violence and death in this book. While it is Young Adult in nature, it is older adult. Do not let the writing style and the lighter chapters at the beginning fool you. This goes dark! It is filled with twists and turns and unexpected moments. I cannot wait to continue the series!
December 4, 2013
Actual rating: 4.5

A dark psychological thriller. I have to admit, this wasn't what I expected. Given the premise, I anticipated something more flimsy, something along the lines of Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective. I got a young Dexter/John Cleaver, with considerably more emotional baggage. This book works for me more as a psychological analysis than anything. Yeah, the plot is there, and it is good. The mystery kept me guessing and I loved seeing things through the eyes of the killer, but the psychoanalytical aspects of this book blew the actual storyline out of the water. Psych 101? Please. I gained more insight into the human mind from this book than from anything I learned in that class.

Or maybe I just slept through that class. Whatever, I PASSED, OK?

Jasper's father is a serial killer, the worst (meaning the best, and not the most terrible) serial killer of all time. He has killed 123...or 124, people before stupidly getting caught, and now poor Jazz is left to grow up pretty much on his own in a town where his name is notorious for being the child of a serial killer who got caught. Nobody held him accountable for his father's crimes since he is a juvenile, and not an actual accessory to his father's crimes despite the fact that his dad has been practically grooming him to take over the "family business" since he's been in action---meaning started killing people. Jasper (Jazz) is extremely intelligent for his age, he's got the street savvy, he's got the smooth-talking skills down, he's got dear old dad's skills of persuasion, and some others that he wish he didn't. Now, there's another killer loose in the town of Lobo's Nod, Jazz thinks it's a serial killer but nobody believes him, and he's out to investigate.

Not the smartest move if you want to stay under the radar, but I suppose if he acted intelligently and kept his head low, this book wouldn't exist.

Jazz: I loved Jazz's character, his complexity, his conflicting desires. This book is an insight into his head, the psychological torment that he goes through day by day knowing that he is his father's son. He struggles with his desires to do good and the darker parts of him that might be a little too close to his father than he likes. The conflict inside him is beautifully written. From the charismatic, normal front he puts up daily to fool others, to his deeper inner struggles with his father's programming. He's got a dark sense of humor, and I rather like that as a bit of a break within such a dark tale. Children are so impressionable, and even if his father got caught, the years and years of grooming affected his mind more than he wants to believe. He doesn't want to be like his father...who, besides the most twisted, mentally ill children wants to emulate a serial killer when they grow up---but Jazz can't help growing up the way he did, having witnessed what he did, and having the same blood running through his veins. Jazz knows his own terrifying potential, should he allow it to grow.

"'But you don't want to kill people,' she'd said with finality, and Jazz had let the conversation die right there. Because the only honest response would have been:
It's not that I want to or don't want to. It's just…I can. I could. It's like…I imagine it's like being a great runner. If you knew you could run really fast, wouldn’t you? If you were stuck walking somewhere, wouldn't you want to let loose and run like hell? That's how I feel."

Jazz wants to do good, but he has to constantly fight the monster that's lurking within himself, however much he wants to suppress it.

"She was dying. Dying right in front of him, and he didn't trust himself to help her because he didn't trust his hands not to finish the job instead...She was in the full throes of cardiac arrest.
Jazz didn't think. He didn't torture himself. He tilted her head back and listened for breathing. Nothing. A moment of intense pleasure washed over him, followed by a revulsion so sickening that he almost threw himself headlong out the window."

The insight into his life post-dad is pretty interesting, too. You know all the sicko serial killer fans? He's got that, just by being the infamous son. He's got media following him, exposing him (is that even legal? to show a juvenile in this circumstance in the media? Fucking Doug Weathers). He's got people wanting to give him money. He's got grieving parents contacting him for closure.

He's got people angry at him, asking why he didn't just stop his dad. Simple: "like the children of alcoholics and the victims of abuse, Jazz had been a master at compartmentalizing. That, combined with Billy's persistent brainwashing and total control, meant Jazz had never uttered a peep to anyone."

The plot: interesting, but I can't help thinking JAZZ YOU IDIOT. JUST STAY AWAY. MOVE TO ANOTHER TOWN. When you're the child of a serial killer, wouldn't it be wisest to just stay out of the picture? Especially for a kid so smart, so savvy, so good at manipulating people and appearing normal like Jazz supposedly is? It doesn't make sense to me why he'd want to get so involved. Disbelief aside, the mystery itself, the procedures, the glimpses into the serial killer's work was well-done. The clues were given gradually, and that in combination with the flashes of POV through the killer's eyes makes this an excellent armchair detective novel. I was constantly guessing for the whodunnit through all the little bits and pieces given. There is gore, there is blood and torture, but it's nothing the average viewer of CSI or Criminal Minds haven't seen before.

I liked all the characters. The villains, the cops, not everything is black and white. People grow, people change. Even Jazz himself is not immune to foolishness, regret, and hubris. My main concern before starting this book was the premise...a boy, just a boy, doing better detective work than the police themselves? I expected detectives to be bumbling fools, I expected people to compartmentalize Jazz, I epected this to be a Them against Me story. I was wrong. Everything and everyone had more depth than I expected.

Oh, and the ending. Did I see that coming? Nope, nope, not from 10 miles away. Damn.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
April 25, 2012

Sequel, please? Now? I thought this book was really really good. I would have happily handed out five stars, except for the fact that I had the killer's identity figured out less than halfway through the book. I feel very sad that Ms Dense seems to have been randomly replaced with Marple, but thankfully this novel is about a lot more than just solving the main mystery.

I actually took longer to read this book than I tend to do, and most of that time was spent on the first few chapters. So I shall be issuing a warning to those who feel underwhelmed at first - stick with this book, it really does get better and better. The problem was, depraved individual that I am, I felt the introduction to the story and characters to be really light. I'm the kind of reader who likes my mysteries dark and full of gore and psychopaths... and Jasper Dent's character reminded me of a much smarter version of Cassel from White Cat. I love Cassel, but he never strikes me as a "serious" character, and this is how I felt towards Jasper. At first.

But it soon became apparent that Barry Lyga really knows how to balance light and dark in a way I'm not even familiar with. There was humour in this book and Jasper Dent was in many ways a regular teenage boy with a best friend and a girlfriend. Since his dad was arrested, he has lived with his grandmother - a woman suffering from the effects of old age and a sometimes cruelly psychotic personality - but this is all rather amusing, instead of tragic. However, the author's ability to suddenly flip the switch between light-hearted teen humour and really dark descriptions of murder and sociopathic tendencies had quite an effect on me. It could have seemed silly and forced, yet for me it just made it more dramatic and disturbing.

Perhaps this is just me because I don't recall reading reviews that have picked up on this dark twistedness. But I honestly thought there was something extremely horrifying and effective about the contrast between light and dark tones in the novel.

Jasper Dent is also a very complex character, he has all kinds of conflicting emotions flying around inside him. He is the kind of person who questions his motives for everything: is he helping someone because he wants to help them? Or is he helping them for what he gets out of it? If a person is brought up knowing only one way of life, are they destined to follow that path? Can they change?

There are a few problems I had with the story. I don't believe the sheriff would really have been that understanding in a real life situation, and I don't believe he wouldn't have been just a tad more suspicious of Jasper in the beginning. Also, would that social worker really have been that concerned for a guy so close to eighteen who could obviously look after himself? I'm not sure they would have.

These things are very small matters that don't actually take anything away from the novel. This is a seriously gripping story... so, you know what you should do: read it!
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,049 followers
June 17, 2015

Jasper Dent is the most popular teenage boy in school. Wait! Not just in school but in the whole town although for the last reason you could think of. Well, he’s only the son of the most notorious killer, Billy Dent who kind of reminds me of Dennis Hopkins as Hannibal.



Billy has been locked up in prison for four years now but somebody, a fanboy? is copying one of his serial kills as the Artist and calls himself the Impressionist. What is Jasper Dent’s role in all of this?

Could he really be set on stopping the kills or could he really be what everybody expects him to be? His father’s protégé?

This is an example of a brilliantly unique psychological thriller premise with the exact amount of suspense, affective psychoanalyses to boggle your mind all combined to create a gritty story for young adults. To me, this is almost unheard of.

What gripped me really tight to the story is the detailed presentation of Jazz’s upbringing causing the wars constantly battling inside his head whenever he has to come up with judgment of what is right and wrong.

Jasper’s crazy Gramma although most of the things she said and did were plain horrifying provided dark comic relief while his hilarious best friend, Howie [who reminds me so much of my favorite singer, Natasha Bedingfield’s I Bruise Easily (in the most literal sense)] provided the light and easy ones.

Identifying the killer was kind of easy and a bit predictable but it did not interfere with the suspense of the story.

For the author to be able to come up with an idea like this alone is already impressive.

I would really want to read the sequels but they're too long (for me) and lately I've been such a lazy reader and couldn't seem to read anything more than 400 pages. :( Someday, I hope I could.^^
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,357 followers
May 5, 2012
"A serial killer's greatest ability is the ability to blend in"

I love being in the mind of a serial killer. Is this bizarre? Maybe a little. But with an older sister at home, I skipped the fairy tales, instead I grew up watching Freddy Krueger and reading murder mysteries. Naturally, I Hunt Killers immediately attracted my interest with its serial killer's son synopsis. Then when I removed the dust jacket and saw this:

We're here for a good time!

You have to admit, there is something fascinating about serial killers. The way they think, how they analyze and see the world. It's no secret that they're sociopaths, but in most cases they have very high IQs, making them highly interesting to study. These people are masterminds. In I Hunt Killers, being in the most notorious serial killer's son's head, we learn a lot about the ins and outs of this lifestyle. Jazz is such a captivating protagonist. He's deeply disturbed by what his father has done, not just the killings themselves, but how he has was raised - to be his protege. He doesn't want to be like his father, but is it too late? Is the damage done? It's sad and it's terrifying to be inside Jazz's head. I questioned it all as much as he did. Is he sane? Is he dangerous? His best friend Howie is quite the opposite. He's simple minded and a great supportive friend to Jazz. I adored him. Plain and simple. Together, they can be pretty amusing. I loved the added humor in this novel. It's just the right amount to give it charm, while keeping the overall plot gritty and dangerous.

Howie: "What if the whole thing was just an accident?"
Jazz: "And what? Accidentally cut off three fingers postmortem? 'Oops, oh no, my girlfriend just died! Clumsy me, in trying to perform CPR, I chopped off some fingers! Guess I'll take them with me…Oh, darn, where did that middle finger go?' "

I can't forget to mention his Grandma, oh lord is she hilarious. She's senile, suspected to suffer from Alzheimer's with bouts of delirium; she was never really right in the head to begin with. As you can imagine, this brings up some pretty amusing antics from her when cops and media are involved. Like crawling on the floor army-style with a kitchen knife; it's distressing, really - but her delusions are priceless.

"They're gonna rape mongrel babies into me! Mongrel babies to kill white folks! And they're gonna give me the AIDS to kill me off!" Grandma ranted

Faint of heart? Does it bother you to think of feeding human eyeballs to a cat? You may want to steer clear of this one. Although it's considered YA, there is a fair amount of gore and plenty of blood running through these pages. Jazz can't get away from his father constantly invading his thoughts, and now he has to find the one mimicking him; the story is definitely explicit and I appreciate that Lyga didn't shy away from it. This rawness - it gives a convincing portrayal of a teenage killer's son's story.

The mystery itself is not insurmountable. There are two or three obvious choices that become quite apparent, but there is still an extra twist I didn't expect, and the bigger storyline of Jazz figuring himself out is what's at the heart of this book. The ending - exciting and alarming - opens up tons of possibilities for the sequel which I am greatly anticipating!

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Matt.
3,812 reviews12.8k followers
September 3, 2018
After making my way through the entire collection of prequel short stories in this series, I was ready to commence the novel trilogy, armed with enough background information. Barry Lyga’s writing makes it quite easy to delve in and want to push forward until the final page, in hopes of catching all the action. Jasper ‘Jazz’ Dent has lived an odd sort of life. His father, Billy, is one of the most notorious serial killers of all times, captured by fluke a few years ago. His mother disappeared when he was just a child, though there are hints that she might have been one of Billy’s victims. Forced to live with his senile grandmother, Child Protection Services have Jasper on their radar, as he all but raises himself. His father’s actions have made him a pariah in the small community of Lobo’s Nod, with only two friends his own age—Howie, his best friend, and Connie, his girlfriend—to help him make it through high school. When the body of a young woman turns up, the authorities are baffled, having had few deaths in the area since the last 1970s. Jasper cannot help but explore the crime scene for clues, thinking that his ‘killer mind’ could see things that the sheriff might miss. As he learns a little more about the crime and victim, Jasper continues to have horrible flashbacks to the ‘training’ his father offered him about killing and dismembering. Discovering the body of the victim has had fingers removed, Jasper knows that this is a serial killer on the loose, though no one is ready to believe him, at least until another body shows up. It is then that Jasper thinks back to all he knows about killing and victim selection. These victims ring a bell for Jasper, one that comes to him in another of his flashbacks. They follow the list of early kills by Billy Dent, which may allow Jasper to forewarn the authorities. Rather than waiting for more bodies to pile up, Jasper makes the risky decision to visit his father in prison, in hopes of learning something new. Meanwhile, in the shadows, the Impressionist lurks, looking for the next victim. Lyga spins a wonderful tale to get this series going. There is a great deal for the attentive reader to learn within these pages and this is sure to help create a real buzz for the rest of the trilogy and handful of short pieces on offer.

A friend of mine got me interested in the I Hunt Killers series and I have not been able to put it down. The prequel short stories laid all the needed groundwork before I dove into this piece and have not been able to put it down. Exploring the life of a teenager who was raised to kill poses an interesting premise, one in which Lyga has begun a deeper exploration. Jasper Dent is surely a young man whose past is coming back to haunt him. His flashbacks and knowledge of death open the discussion of nature versus nurture when it comes to personality traits, something the reader can discover by keeping a close eye on the character development found within. Lyga has laid the groundwork for Jasper in this novel, as well as the prequel pieces, all of which comes to the surface at various points. Jasper seeks to shed the persona that has been attributed to him while also seeking to use that knowledge for good. His determination not to sit on the sidelines can be applauded, though he does flirt with danger throughout. The handful of secondary characters surely complement Jasper, particularly his closest friends. The three teenagers may have tendencies to act their age, but the story is not told in such a way as to make it seem corny or even teen-geared. There is a certain grit to the narrative, one that cannot be easily explained, though it works well to propel the story forward. The scenes are gory at times, but not explored in an overly-graphic nature, allowing a larger cross-section of the population to enjoy the book. Lyga has developed his story and characters very well and keeps the plot moving forward, including some twists near the end that will push readers to get their hands on the next novel, if only to learn more about what is going on.

Kudos, Mr. Lyga, on an outstanding series debut novel. I am glad I read the prequel pieces first, as it enriched my reading experience, but you have done so well that I could have started here without issue.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
849 reviews3,877 followers
February 15, 2021

Book 2 : Game ✬✬✬✬✬
Book 3 : Blood of my Blood ✬✬✬✬✬

The fact is, I love Dexter. Wait - I mean, early Dexter. Not the I-wonder-out-loud-while-doing-the-thing-I'm-wondering-out-loud-about-Dexter we're forced to stand in the end. What Dexter? Come on! See, everything is in the voice-over and Oh, dear. Don't get me started about the dumbest thing the show became in the end.

So, I loved Dexter. I love everything serial-killer related. Therefore I was prepared to love this book. It didn't disappoint. I guess here's the moment where I must warn you that even though it's YA, this story isn't for the faint of heart because we come across some really disturbing and gore scenes. But then, the serial killer deal must have already warned you, right?

Do you think we can turn someone into a serial killer? How much does our upbringing influence our actions? Can we turn our back on faith? Is faith a real deal or just a bunch of irrational fears? Can we fight our interne violence lurking?

"The killer was a badass. Talk about supreme confidence. Jazz couldn't help it; he sort of admired the guy.
People matter. People are real. People matter..."

Crime : Larceny.

Indeed after a slow start, this book was such a page-turner that I gave into it hours long without thinking about anything else, hooked as I was. Isn't it the perfect larceny? No?

What? Just look at the definition.
felonious taking or stealing : okay, I was completely willing. There's that.
of someone else's personal goods or property : Hours of my time
valued above (for grand) or below (for petty) a specific amount (which is $100 in many States) : my time is worthless, duh, meaning it's priceless.
with the intent to deprive the owner permanently of the goods or property. I'm pretty sure that's permanent, except for some lucky characters of SF novels.

Now, do I regret reading it? Not by a long shot.

Crime scene : Lobo's Nod

Here's a little village where nothing never happens. Hmm. Well. Except that thing - you know, the arrest of one of the biggest serial-killer of all times - aka Jazz's father. Okay, there's that.

Motives of the crime : Play with your mind

This book appears to be some psychological and thought-provoking thriller, as we are immerged in Jazz's somehow disturbed mind, getting an insight in the mind of that particular kid who's been raised by a monster. Of course I loved that, what do you think?

Suspects : There's enough depth in the characters to make them enthralling and interesting to follow.

Jasper 'Jazz' Dent, teenager, raised by a serial killer, who's continually afraid to cross the boundaries between good and evil. Oh, man, talk about daddy issues. What a tortured kid, and for reasons. Being in his head, hearing his father pieces of advices, following him while he tries to act as a human, to read people correctly in order to appear normal, to be normal, to kill no one, because People Matter guys... That was fascinating to see him struggle between his desire to be good and the darkest parts of his mind who made him wonder.... If... If he gave in... If he let them flow... What would happen?

"And there were the urges. The feelings. The memories. The things that he'd been taught and then forgotten, but that lurked somewhere in his brain's basement, ready to strike like stalkers in the night."

Haunted - Jasper's haunted. By this father's actions. By the way he was raised. By his fears to become a real legacy for his serial killer of a father. By this knife he can't help but see in his nightmares. Haunted. Broken in a way nobody can understand. Because he won't let them see.

Don't get fooled though : Jasper is no innocent victim. He's manipulative and flashing his mega-watt smile comes just as easily to him as breathing - he became a master of "looking normal", and has a millions expressions in his arsenal to use when needed. As his father, he's charming, handsome, and looks completely above suspicion. Actually he reminded me of Dexter in the way he has to read people to know how to act sometimes : Is Connie happy? Hmm, yeah, she seems to be. I mean, the girl does smile. That's a good sign right? (Little tips : that's not always a good sign). He's got also this dark humor I loved in Dexter, this ability to see life through a twisted glass, to see people as they truly are, free of their false pretenses... Or so he thinks.

Jasper, always on the edge of... Jasper, for whom I ended caring deeply.

Howie, best-friend of sub-mentioned Jazz, likes cracking inappropriate jokes, and suffers from hemophilia. This loyal kid cracked me up something fierce.

G. William, State sheriff - too nice to be true, but then, guilt and pity can do that to people, I've been told.

Connie, Jazz's girlfriend, is a stronger Rita (yes, Dexter's Rita, remember?). As Jazz expresses it, she's his anchor, his human part, somehow... The one who's not afraid to tell him that this killer joke, now, wasn't the best idea he could have. Can he swear never telling it again? Yeah? Good. In my opinion she's perfect for him.

About their relationship, it seems important to mention that contrary to many YA books, the author didn't take the simplistic approach of the overwhelming romance we often find : indeed instead of creating a new romance, he chose to show us the developments of an already existing relationship, adding more depth to its treatment in my opinion.

"Maybe it was a guy/girl thing.
He hoped that's all it was. What if it was a predator/prey thing? A human thing? What if he was losing his connection to her? God, don't let that be."

Evidences aka what you must know about the plot

✔ There's a serial-killer running in the wild, and Jazz's mission is to catch him. Or so he thinks. Did I guess who the killer was? Nope, but then, I'm all kinds of stupid with thriller sometimes, and most of the readers guessed earlier. Now, I don't think guessing would spoil the read because what's important here is the journey through Jazz's mind in my opinion. That's where this book is filled with originality. You want to read a regular investigation? Go in the bookstore, check the thrillers. There's tons of them. Will you find other Jaspers? I don't think so.

✔ I can't deny that the way police officers let Jazz investigate can appear completely unbelievable, being a teenager and all.

✔ Of course we can wonder WHY in the world doesn't Jazz hide or, I don't know, moves in another town. Let's face it, if he did I wouldn't write this review, because there would be no book, so, well... Moreover, I really think that guilt can grandly influence people behavior, so his need to show that he's good, that he isn't like his father? That's believable to me.

✔ I developed an unhealthy crush on Jazz. Bad me.

Verdict : Why, of course I recommend.

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Profile Image for Ashley Marie .
1,299 reviews393 followers
April 6, 2017

Already partway into book two. Because this might be the first series since Hunger Games that I read back to back to back. Not that that's a big thing or anything.

If you put How to Get Away With Murder, Criminal Minds, and Law-Abiding Citizen into a blender, add a dash of Psych and a teen protagonist, something like this book would be the end result.

Gory at times but also completely fascinating, like my favorite shows/movies here.
Profile Image for Gavin.
883 reviews398 followers
January 9, 2017
This was an entertaining YA thriller. It had a nice blend of mystery, action, and suspense.

We followed the exploits of 17 year old Jasper Dent, son of the worlds most notorious serial killer, as he tried to help the police in his local town hunt down a copycat killer of his father.

The story was interesting enough. Jasper was a decent lead character. He had a horrible childhood and his evil father had taught him to be just like him and so Jasper was worried that he himself was destined to become a killer. Lyga really did a good job selling that aspect of the story. The big flaw in this book was the secondary characters. I never really managed to form any sort of emotional attachment to them.

The mystery aspect of the story was pretty well done. I never guessed the identity of the copycat killer until just before the big reveal and even then Lyga had another big twist up his sleeve that should make for an interesting sequel story!

All in all this as an entertaining YA read.

Rating: 4 stars. I feel like I'm being a bit generous here but this is better than a lot of the books I rate 3.5 stars.

Audio Note: Charlie Thurston did a decent job with the audio.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,604 reviews5,987 followers
September 13, 2014
Combining two great genre's..Thriller (serial killer shit) and young adult. You would think I would be all over that. I was to a point.
Jasper Dent is one of the world's worst serial killers son. He isn't that family member who swears they never noticed anything being off about his dad. His dad trained him. Trained him to kill, and do it well.
Jasper does not want to end up like Dear Old Dad though, because People Matter.

He teams up with his best buddy Howie (who I simply adore) and his girlfriend Connie to do some investigative stuff on their own when a serial killer again targets their small town.
Enter my problems with the story. There is no way in hell that a police dept is going to allow a 17 year old as much freedom with butting in on their case. Just no way in hell.

The book somewhat reminded me of the Dexter TV series which my husband has completely gotten my hooked on, but still is a fresh new take on it. I'm hoping the other books in the series are a tad bitter more believable than this one for me.
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,981 followers
June 28, 2012


Oh who are we kidding...no one ever pays attention to warnings, especially book characters.

Our lead character Jasper (Jazz) is no exception. Except in his case, he is smarter than the average bear cop. After all, you might know a thing or two when your dad is one of the most famous serial killers of all time. His skills are bound to come in handy when hunting down a serial killer who is copying his dad's moves.

Welcome to...

Three fingers on the right hand were missing - the index finger, the middle finger, and the ring finger. The thumb and pinky were all that remained; that hand would flash devil horns while the corpse rotted in the ground somewhere.

Apparently, being smart enough to catch a killer does not include knowing the difference between the "devil horn" sign and the "hang loose" sign. Ah well, I'll let that slide. Jazz is still pretty useful. So what if his brain's a little fried? Mine would be too if I had to watch my dad mutilate people and animals when I was a small child, and because of this I now couldn't get my father's voice out of my head.
Struggling is what makes it worth doing, Billy said. Jazz closed his eyes, trying to chase away his father's voice, but it was no good.

This is not an easy read. The details of the murders are startling and graphic. It's a pretty dark story. I was, however, completely bowled over by this peek into a life so far out of the realm of ordinary. The poor kid...everyone around him seemed to be pulling him back and forth. His father and grandmother believed him to be a monster, while his best friend and girlfriend were doing everything in their power to counteract that belief.

Even Jazz himself didn't truly know who he was. Was his father right? Was his destiny not in helping to catch the killers, but instead to become one himself?
It's not that I want to or don't want to. It's just...I can. I imagine it's like being a great runner. If you knew you could run really fast, wouldn't you? If you were stuck walking somewhere, wouldn't you want to let loose and run like hell? That's how I feel.

I'm so happy that this book is going to become a series. It's going to be quite the experience to watch as Jazz figures out his own head. I like that he's conflicted. Not everything is black and white in his world.

The multiple viewpoints were especially interesting. Getting the chance to be inside of the killer's head added a bit of extra creepiness to the story.

Bonus points go for fitting in a Silence of the Lambs reference. The last few chapters definitely had a SotL vibe. I was digging on it.
"Have the lambs stopped screaming, Clarice?" Howie said suddenly in a dead-on Hannibal Lecter impression.

Book 2 is going to be CRAAAAAAZY. I can feel it.
Profile Image for Mariah Roze.
1,029 reviews933 followers
March 26, 2017
This book has been on my TBR forever, so I brought it on vacation with me so I'd finally read it. This book was nothing like what I expected, but I still really enjoyed it.

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is your average teenager. He still deals with trying to figure out who he is and what to do when your dating. The one problem that he faces that no other teenager faces is that his dad is the world's worst serial killer.

His dad brought him to work daily and showed him the ways of murdering and getting away with it. Jazz had the experience of witnessing crime from the criminal's point of view. However, his dad finally got caught (after being in the triple digits with murdering), but somehow there are still bodies piling up in Lobo's Nod. The bodies have a remarkable resemblance to Jazz's dad's first couple murders. The victims have the same initials, occupation, sex and age as the victims that Jazz's dad originally killed. And they are in the same order; killed by the same method. Who was this killer infatuated with his dad? Jazz wanted to know and he decides to join the police in a hunt for the new serial killer.

This book was really enjoyable! I plan to read the next book in the series when it comes in from the library. This book was a fast read that kept my attention the whole time. At times it was gruesome…

I suggest this book to people that like mysteries, murders and Young Adult reads :)
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,917 followers
December 4, 2013
Jasper “Jazz” Dent was raised by his father Billy, one of the world’s most violent serial killers. While other kids were riding bikes and playing, Jazz was taking care of his father’s murder trophies and learning how to become an invisible, invincible predator. When Jasper was twelve, Billy finally escalated and got caught by the local sheriff, G. William. Four years later, Jazz is still tormented by his father’s teachings, and his only goal is to escape Billy Dent’s legacy. He needs to remind himself over and over again that people matter, especially when a new killer starts imitating Billy’s crimes. Jasper is the first to notice the pattern and as the bodies start piling up, he becomes obsessed with stopping the copycat.

In Jasper, Lyga created a well-rounded, consistent and truly believable character. He is smart and incredibly observant, but severely damaged, and very easy to love. But he's not the only one worth mentioning. Of all the fabulous characters that were built around Jazz, his girlfriend Connie was the one who really stole my heart. It is rare that a teen character, especially a secondary character, is so strong, self-assured and genuinely kind. Jazz is convinced that she’s the one keeping him sane and grounded (or as sane as he can be), and I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with him. As much as I loved Jazz’s best friend Howie (and really, how does a serial killer’s son get a type A hemophiliac for his best friend?), Connie is one of those characters that make me proud to be a woman.

Getting brief glimpses of the killer’s point of view is certainly not uncommon in crime novels, and I can think of at least ten cases when I really appreciated the insight. Usually, these chapters are either about the gore or about allowing the reader to really feel the fear of the victims. This time, however, I didn’t feel that the few brief passages told from The Impressionist’s point of view brought anything useful to the story. Yes, they were interesting, but they were mostly about The Impressionist's obsession with Jazz himself, which is something we could have figured out on our own. We saw the gory details through Jazz’s eyes (and memories) anyway. There was, however, one thing Lyga did better than most: while Jazz was investigating, even when he was one step ahead of the police, Barry Lyga never made the police look stupid and incompetent. He found a way to create a hero that is special in some way without degrading the small-town sheriff and his people.

The narrator, Charlie Thurston, did an amazing job differentiating the voices of all the characters. He didn’t just change his voice, he slightly changed his accent too, and he adapted it to each character according to age and education. The changes in accents were minute, but they were there, and they were very impressive. He also handled the emotional scenes in a way that made me believe and really feel them. My only problem is that he made Billy Dent, Jazz’s personal boogeyman and the world’s most notorious serial killer sound funny! I’m not sure if this is an audio issue or a book issue, which is why I’d like to hear from those of you who’ve read the book. Regardless, next time I see the name Charlie Thurston on an audiobook, I won’t hesitate to pick it up.

Also posted at The Nocturnal Library
Profile Image for Poonam.
605 reviews506 followers
August 18, 2016
3.5 stars

I was in two minds if I should pick this one so soon after reading the true crime story of Ted Bundy.

So this one has gore and can be icky at times but it has flashes of humor which was surprising.
The book is well balanced where the dark side is combined with the humorous tones of the writing.

I would still say it is a Dark read and to read this only if you can bear the sadistic workings of a killers mind.

The book is from the perspective of 17 yr old Jasper Dent who is the son of famous serial killer Billy Dent. Jasper is charming and manipulative.....
He has a girlfriend and a best friend, lives with his grandmother and I truly don't know what to make of his relation with her!

There are series of killings that have started again in the small town where Jasper resides and Jasper gets involved in the investigation.

The mystery is not the thing that keeps you hooked but the way the story flows and Jasper's inner thoughts are what makes this a good read.

There is an internal struggle which Jasper faces where he needs to come to terms with his nature and if he has the same tendencies as his father.

Overall, this is a solid read and I really enjoyed it. The ending left me wanting more and I for one will definitely be continuing this series.
January 18, 2016
 photo jazz_zps2tcagzli.png

AGHH!!! Look how badass this is!!! Thanks, Frenchy Bug!! We take our pimp job seriously, you know....

Jazz was afraid of two things in the world, and two things only. One of them was that people thought that his upbringing meant that he was cursed by nature, nurture, and predestined to be a serial killer like his father.
The second thing...was that they were right.

EEEEEEE! This made me immensely happy....in a super sick, masochistic way. Like, really?? Why have I never heard about this book before?? I'm not going to lie, I'm truly at a loss for words and I really don't know what to say. There are certain books where I can't seem to shut my mouth because I love them so much, and some books where I love them just as much but can't seem to find the proper words to identify and characterize these feelings of overwhelming awesomeness.

It was a beautiful day. It was a beautiful field.
Except for the body.

What is it about this book that made me fall so deeply in love with it? I can't help but think it's because this book appeals to the crazy side of me I found when I was about a year into Goodreads-you know, when I decided to change my name to Chelsea Peril Please?? Yeah, this book fits into that category. That category where people are being abducted and murdered and our dear Jazz is using his knowledge from his childhood to figure out who might be next. But, wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Jazz is the child of a serial killer. Everyone knows Billy Dent....and they especially know his son, Jasper Dent. Poor little Jazz-he grew up in a home where he was expected to watch, learn, help with Billy's victims, giving him a vast and extensive knowledge on how to successfully murder someone.

Jazz could read people. It wasn't something he worked at; it was just as natural as breathing. It was as ordinary as reading a billboard on the highway: You don't really think about the billboard; you just notice it and your brain processes it, and that's that.

And here is why I loved this book so much-Jazz. What a beautiful, broken character. He was perfection. He is exactly the type of male lead I've been looking for, lately. He is traumatized (inwardly) by his past and what his father made him do. People look at him differently because they don't know why he didn't stop him even if he knew it was wrong. They're wondering if he'll be next, if he'll finally snap like dear old, Dad. And it takes a toll on him, naturally. He is tormented by his own fears that he is no different from his father, that he will one day snap and become an unstoppable killer with no remorse...because even though he isn't his father and he doesn't want to kill, he still gets excited by it. He gets drawn into the blood lust and art that is a serial killer's MO, and it gets harder and harder to fight. What if he's no different from his father??

God! Goddamn it! Goddamn Billy Dent and goddamn his son, too. Tears sprang to Jazz's eyes. She was dying. Dying right in front of him, and he didn't trust himself to help her because he didn't trust his hands not to finish the job instead.
"Just do it!" he yelled to himself, his voice raw and bleak in the close quarters of the apartment. "Save her, you useless piece of-"

So, yeah. Tortured souls are what really draw me in. He desperately wants to be good, to do good, so he tries to help the police force along. This story was excellent. It was different. It was intriguing. It was beyond addicting. So what held back that final star, you ask?? Well...it's as simple as time. I was dragged away from this story numerous times and I couldn't seem to find more than 20 minute intervals where I could get some peace and quiet to read-and, I'll admit it, the last hour I had to read with the tv on in the background because a certain someone just wouldn't go to sleep and I couldn't wait any longer....but it was still so good. I never once was happy I had to put it down and I thought about it when I wasn't able to read it-so I think that more than made up for my disconnect from lack of reading time.

"Who am I? I'll tell you. I'm the local psychopath, and if you don't save my best friend's life, I will hunt down everyone you've ever cared about in your life and make you watch while I do things to them that will have you begging me to kill them. That's who I am."

The other thing?? This book had such a sinister feel to it. And all my best friends on here know I have this....history, where I find myself screaming in the middle of the night due to a recurring nightmare. It's terrifying. And, for whatever reason, this book brought that dream back. So I was a little apprehensive about finishing-I mean, I knocked over a lamp and broke the bulb in the middle of the night...not exactly an ideal scenario nor does it make me seem like a sane person. Here, think of it like this: I (wake up?) open my eyes and see this...like...fuzzy, grainy image of someone standing beside the bed, but I can't see their face. And then they slowly reach for me. Yeah. That's it. But I always wake up and my throat is sore and I am on the other side of the bed, practically crawling over my hubbs to 'get away.'

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(WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK-some of the gifs that came up when I was searching for an apt portrayal...yikes!!!! I mean, I didn't even use the most accurate images because, I mean, wow. People are WEIRD.) Not a great example above, but I can't use those creeptastic images.

People matter. People are real.

Weird as it may be, I think the idea that Jazz felt like someone was watching him got to me. And I haven't been getting much sleep-I think those two elements combined got me at a weak moment. That is why I am waiting until next week to start book two-I want to be well-rested. But don't think for a minute I'm happy about waiting....because you couldn't be more wrong. I already miss Jazz. Sad face.


For more of my reviews, please visit:
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Because my Anna Banana said Jazz is like Cassel

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Profile Image for Kathe L.
181 reviews95 followers
April 21, 2015
Reading about Jasper Dent, I realized I have a pattern. The characters that captivated me the most in the past months were Meg, from the Others series Conner Cobalt, from Fuel the fire, Lily, from Tin Lily, The Twins, from The Night Circus, Lucy, from More than Forever and Thomas, from The piper's son. What are the similarities between all of them? They are all characters who are mesmerizing to read about. They think differently and see normal situations in such a complex way, so different from our, or at least my, perspectives, that to have a glimpse of their minds, to see how their thoughts are formed, is one chance in a million. It's like winning the lottery. To see how their thoughts are different from what they let people see, to see Jasper and Connor manipulate people to get what they want, to see Lily, Lucy even Meg having completely different reactions to gigantic situations? It's like admiring one person from a distance and having the chance of seeing how their mind works for a day. And their mind working is so fascinating, so much more perplexing then what you had previously expected, that you want to be in their minds forever.


Are serial killers normal looking?

What if your dad was a serial killer who killed 123 (or 124?) people?
Jasper Dent is the son of a serial killer. And while growing up, his dad taught him everything he needed to know about it. And after 4 years of his dad being arrested, Jasper doesn't know if he is good or bad, if he's going to be a killer or not. Taught by his father, he knows how to manipulate, how to make people think what he wants, has the urge to kill. And still, he fights it with everything he has.

"The dice had already been tossed, the cards shuffled and drawn. He was what he was, whether he knew it yet or not. Maybe he was just a guy with a crazy dad, like other kids with crazy dads.
Or maybe he was something else."

Jasper Dent became one of my favorite characters and I'm kind of obsessed with him. I could empathize with his struggles and I wanted to hug him until he couldn't breathe anymore. He was manipulative and complicated and beyond clever, but he also cares, whether he knows it or not. He cares about his best friend (Howie) and Connie, his girlfriend. He even cares about his crazy grandma. Imagine growing up with a dad so smart that he could kill 123 people in a period of, I don't know, 10 years? And imagine struggling with not being who your father taught you to be for 13 years? Imagine being so good at investigating murderers because you've lived with a murderer? Know how they think, how they formulate their killings? Billy Dent fooled people everyday and killed people all over USA, one of the most notorious serial killer of all times. And you are his son.

So, the story passes when there's a new serial killer in town, and Jasper decided to help the police finding him/her (it always could be a her, guys.) I had three suspicions in mind, and none of them were the serial killer. I am not good at this stuff. Oh, and this serial killer is following Billy's Dent steps, imitating his first deaths. A follower. Man, the end of this book surprised me like I wasn't surprised reading books in a very long time. How did that happen? Was it calculated or not? Is Jasper correct? (of course he is, but still, the question hangs in the air). I am not used to this genre, but still, this book is fantastic and everyone should read it. It involves your emotional, it raises your suspicions and makes you suspect everyone. It shows us a wonderful character who deserves to be known.

- Am I dying for the next book? Absolutely.
- And the second characters? Howie made me laugh hard and was another character I was amazed at. He was an extraordinary friend and, besides everything stopping him, he was very brave. A character I truly admired.
- And Connie? Being Jasper's girlfriend is a tough task, and she handled it perfectly. Jasper isn't who he is afraid to be because of his affection towards her and his love for Howie. We can see Jasper struggles a lot, and so does Connie. She's always there, she makes him laugh. She doesn't give up when he is having inner battles. She was incredible.

Well, I think I've said enough. I'm ready for book two! Oh, and if you are looking for a different genre, a book with brilliant characters, this here is the one :)
Profile Image for Brittany McCann.
1,816 reviews428 followers
July 22, 2023
I wasn't expecting the first half of the book to feel, well... so young. There were some interesting teachings by Jazz's father as he was bringing him up and teaching him about serial killing and life. However, I must admit that I was mostly bored with the pacing and lack of action for the first 15+ pages.

Then BAM! The pacing speeds up ultimately, and it is non-stop until the end. FINALLY, The title made sense. The ending is set up in a way that prepares me to pick up the 2nd book. There are many possibilities to come, and I was interested in the different personas and methodologies from a serial killer's perspective. It feels like Dexter's dad is teaching him, but this time, his dad is a ruthless serial killer instead of a cop trying to save him.

Don't miss out due to a slower (and longer start). Even though 50-100 pages could be cut from that beginning, it is completely worth pushing through to the action.

3.5 stars rounded up to 4
Profile Image for Sue.
1,344 reviews5 followers
August 1, 2014
I received a free download of “I Hunt Killers” by Barry Lyga through Net Galley. This was a dark psychological thriller, that stirred up so many emotions and thought processes. It was not an easy read. The details of the murders ae graphic and not for the weak-minded.

Three fingers on the right hand were missing - the index finger, the middle finger, and the ring finger. The thumb and pinky were all that remained, flashing devil horns while the corpse rotted in the ground. What did it mean?

The lead character Jasper (“Jazz”) Dent, had a famous dad. His dad, William Cornelius, “Billy” Dent was one of the most famous serial killers of all time. Billy was now behind bars, on death row, but his son had witnessed horrendous crime scenes…and it never left him. Jazz’s father and grandmother believed him to be a monster, while his best friend and girlfriend were doing everything in their power to counteract this. Even Jazz himself didn't truly know who he was. Was his father right? Was his destiny not in helping to catch the killers, but instead to become one himself?

But now the bodies were piling up in the small town of Lobo Nod, a copycat killer, and the fingers were now pointing at Jazz as the Killer! In order to clear his name, Jazz joins forces in the hunt for a new serial killer.

The multiple viewpoints were especially interesting. Getting the chance to be inside of the killer's head added a bit of extra creepiness to the story.

While reading this novel, I had flashbacks of a serial movie I watched this week… the 2007 psychological thriller Mr. Brooks, with Kevin Costner (Mr. Brooks), a wealthy, married, one daughter American white male. But he had a Dark side…as a serial killer.(Kevin Costner and co-star William Hurt).

Also reminded me of, Seven, a 1995 film starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. These two detectives are chasing a serial killer (Kevin Spacey).Blood-splattered Kevin Spacey as a serial killer in "Seven".

“I Hunt Killers” was definitely a gripping novel and stirs up all kinds of thoughts and emotions. Check out this dark psychological thriller.

Profile Image for Laura.
1,401 reviews209 followers
April 18, 2012
Confession time. I may have a thing for blood, gore, and chills galore. Ha! Who am I kidding? Bloodlust would be a better description! I grew up on horror films and Stephen King bed time stories. Soooo…When I saw I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga on the shelf, I lunged for it! A serial killer book for young adults with huge doses of humor and chills? Yes, please!

I’m going to sidetrack gush right out of the gate here on this book’s gorgeous, gorgeous, gory dressing. It made me so giddy I may have jumped up and down like a twelve year old girl! Hehe…I have never urged anyone to pick up the print version rather than the ebook before, but there is a first time for every occasion. It is a joy to behold! The “oh-my” looks thrown my way on the train when I pulled that beauty out made me giggle every time. If you remove the book’s jacket, you will find a pristine, glowing white book splattered with blood! Just beautiful! And that is just the beginning….

Meet Jasper (Jazz) Dent. A smart, handsome, polite, young man with a dazzling I-can-get-anything-I-want charm. He has a best friend, girlfriend, a role in the school play, and…a serial killer for a father. It has been four years since Billy Dent was finally captured and locked up for a life long career spanning decades as the country’s most feared and infamous serial killer. No one will ever forget Billy Dent and what he did especially his son. Jasper lives in the same small town, lives in the same rundown house his Dad grew up in and everyone seems to be waiting for Jazz to follow in dear ole dad’s footsteps. Including Jazz. So when I new killer hits town, Jazz is determined to help solve the case and prove every one wrong. He can be “normal”. He doesn’t want to make Dad proud. Right?

Jazz, Jazz, Jazz! I loved your messed up, beautiful head from the get-go! Jazz’s dreams, fears, struggles and insecurities coupled with his dark past and power created one hell of a haunting read. All kidding aside though, Jazz possesses some seriously dark thoughts about people, caring, and love that went straight to my shiver bone! Mr. Lyga introduced some interesting issues that impacted Jasper’s life, such as the press and the families of the victims. Pain and struggles that make the possibilities for a normal teenage life for Jazz nearly impossible. So what keeps him sane and grounded in reality and emotion?

Howie! OH, Howie! I adored this guy! Jazz and Howie have been best friends through it all—before Billy Dent was caught and after. The kind of friend you take with you to break into a morgue! :) Howie’s fragileness paired with Jazz’s darkness made for an intoxicating, dangerous and fun blend! I do have to disagree with Howie on one point though-- Haha…You get the impression these two would do anything for each other. The trust and loyalty between Jazz and Howie was the heartbeat and love of this story for me. Sorry, Connie—you didn’t even come close. Their friendship was almost as strong as….

Dear Old Dad’s bond with Jazz. Almost. I really don’t want to spoil anything here, but just know it was not Jazz’s memories of finding teeth around the house or the recounting of the crimes that gave me the chills. It was his Dad’s “tender” moments that scared the bejesus out of me! Very sad and scary. I just wanted to keep Jazz safe. Tell him to run and get away. The frustration and pull of Jazz’s what ifs filled these pages with such emotion and pain. I had to remind myself again and again that Billy Dent was Jazz’s father no matter what he may have done. The love and bond was real and there between them. Like I said—chilling! Gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

Now since there can be only one or possibly two badasses in town—let’s just say the new killer was the odd one out. The killer made very little impression on me. But that wasn’t even one of my real disappointments with this story. It was the endings. I call them hiccup endings. Just when you think they are gone…hiccup! All the endings were powerful and perfect on their own, but all together they robbed the power and emotion of the words for me. One of those endings alone would have been spectacular!

That said, these are merely minor, minor hiccups. I loved this book and will recommend it to everyone and their mother! :D

Can’t wait for more!

Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,905 reviews851 followers
December 4, 2013
I grew up in the hunting grounds of the Richard Ramirez, aka The Nightstalker, an infamous serial killer from the 1980’s. Our home was even painted in the colors that he preferred, so my sister and I would stay up late and scare ourselves silly with the possibilities. But even before all of this, I’ve always been fascinated with murder mysteries, so when I Hunt Killers came out my interest was immediately piqued. A story centered on the son of one of the most horrific serial killers in history? Sign me up! That being said, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so utterly creeped out by a story!

Jasper Dent was raised by a monster, his father Billy, privy to his activities, schooled in his evil ways. Billy was finally caught, and for the last four years Jazz has been living free of his control, and determined to be nothing like him. He’s very afraid that Billy’s influence or genes predispose him to become a killer, though. Jazz despises what his father did, but it did leave a mark on his thinking.

When a killing happens in Jazz’s home town he knows in his heart that this is just the beginning. The murder has all the marks of a serial killer, and Jazz is determined to stop him. As a reader you realize that Jazz desperately wants to prove that he’s unlike Billy, and stopping someone like his father might help in that regard.

Being inside Jazz’s mind was a bit disturbing at times. Having to relive some of his memories about his father made me ill. I felt so horrible for Jazz, and wished someone could’ve yanked him out of his father’s clutches sooner! His father was a true sociopath with absolutely no regard for the life of other, even more horrible is the fact he got pleasure from their pain and suffering. Unfortunately, some of his thinking rubbed off on Jasper and he has a constant inner struggle to look at people and know that they matter. But he does know how a killer thinks which makes him a perfect hunter of their kind.

I was rooting for Jasper to catch the killer but seriously scared for him as well. I knew it was just a matter of time before Jazz registered on the killer’s radar, making this a suspenseful and frightening read. I kept trying to figure out murderer’s identity along with Jazz and I had a few suspects in mind, but didn’t know for sure until the end.

I did really enjoy this story, but I found find Jazz’s involvement in the investigation a little unbelievable. I highly doubt any law enforcement body would’ve included and allowed a teenager to be any part of such a serious investigation. Still, I Hunt Killers was an addictive story, albeit completely disturbing. The murders were shocking and brutal. The ending makes the future for Jazz’s full of even more frightening possibilities. I do think I’ll hold off on reading the sequel for a while just because I hear it has a cliffhanger.

When I Hunt Killers first came out I was extremely excited to pick it up, yet, as soon as I got a copy it sat on my shelf with all my other “must-have-it-now” books and languished there. I'm so glad I finally dusted it off the old TBR and read (listened) to it. The audio version was spot on and Charlie Thurston's narration made the story come alive!

You can read this review and more at The Readers Den.
Profile Image for Giulia.
156 reviews237 followers
August 13, 2023
10 facts about Jasper "Jazz" Francis Dent

1 - He's the son of America's most notorious serial killer.
2 - He thinks about killing people all the time.
3 - I mean it. Literally. All. The. Time.
4 - He never does it, though. He just likes to brag about how EASY it would be, and how GOOD he would be at it. Yeah.
5 - Now that I think about it, bragging seems to be one of his favorite activities. He's so handsome. And charming. And clever. Much more clever than his friends, the cops, and maybe even his psychopath of a father.
6 - Except he's not. He's terribly bad at investigating and deducing. He keeps making up theories and ignoring the need for evidence, and then feeling all surprised when, ooops, turns out you were wrong!
7 - He's a sexist asshole and does not apologize for it. He admits that he deems women inferior to men and he simply doesn't care.
8 - He threatens to kill his own girlfriend multiple times.
9 - HE'S. SO. ANGSTY. You have no idea. If there's one thing he's good at, it's wallowing in self-pity, all while simultaneously complimenting himself. C-o-o-l.
10 - He feels like the stupid and shallow version of Cassel Sharpe from the Curse Workers. You suck at conning, man. Get over it.

... Damn. Who knew a book about serial killers could be so boring.

(2016 read)
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
3,008 reviews377 followers
July 22, 2016
There are few YA books not only told in the point of view of a boy, but a boy like Jasper Dent, who's father was a notorious serial killer and since birth, was raised to be one as well.

I can't even begin to tell you how amazing this book was. From the writing, to the execution, down to the very characters themselves, you never knew what was what. Was Jasper (Jazz) just like his father or was he different? Was he just a boy trying to be good or a killer waiting to break out of his shell and become what he was so lovely trained and conditioned to be?

I loved every heart pounding moment of this story and the very characters themselves.

If you are looking for something completely off the charts, completely unlike anything in the YA genre, a thriller that will leave you begging for more, your heart pounding and slightly disgusted with just how very much you loved all the horrifying events, this is a series you must try.

Profile Image for Katherine.
777 reviews355 followers
December 7, 2019
"You'll be the greatest ever...They'll never catch you. You'll be the new boogeyman parents use to scare their kids into behaving. You'll make everyone forget Speck and Dahmer and even Jack the Goddamn Ripper. My boy. My boy."

This book is one sick, twisted, ride. And I enjoyed every damn second of it.

It’s not easy being a teenager; Jasper “Jazz” Dent knows this. But it’s a thousand times harder when you’re the son of the most infamous serial killer in history. You see, Jasper’s father Billy killed 124 people in the most grotesque, evil, and inhumane manner before getting caught. And for all of those years, he’s been grooming Jazz to be his protégé. Terrified of turning out like Dear Old Dad, even with the constant reassurances of his best friend and girlfriend, his father’s voice and his own fears are ever present in his mind.
”Jazz was afraid of two things in the world, and two things only. One of them was that people thought that his upbringing meant that he was cursed by nature, nurture, and the predestination to be a serial killer like his father.

The second thing… was that they were right.”
And just when things couldn’t get any worse, it appears another serial killer is haunting the tiny town of Lobo’s Nod. But this might be the perfect chance for Jazz to either prove that he’s nothing like his father… or prove that he’s just like him.

How do I love this book series? Let me count the ways. I have yet to come across a YA mystery/thriller series that packs as much punch as this series does. And for all the right reasons. The characters are some of the best written, fully fleshed out protagonists I’ve come across, the writing has some of the sassiest and sarcastic dialogue I’ve read, and the mystery aspect of this book will keep you up well into the night, keeping an eye out to see if Billy Dent is coming for you.

All of the characters in this series are so beautifully well-written. Jazz isn’t your typical teenage kid, but who can blame him? With a serial killer for a father, a senile, mentally insane grandmother and a mom he has fleeting memories of, I expected him to be a whole lot more messed up than what he was. Continuously tortured by the memories of his fucked up childhood and shunned by almost the entire town, underneath his tough guy exterior is the same sad, lost boy who has nothing to lose but nothing to gain at the same time.
”’What was I supposed to do?’ Jazz wanted to ask the whole world. ‘Was I supposed to kill him in his sleep? That would have been the only way to stop him. Kill my own father?’

Maybe that’s what the world had wanted, though.”
The effects of a childhood raised by Billy are profoundly seen in both Jazz’s actions and rapport with the people around him. He knows exactly which buttons to push and can read people like a magnifying glass, preying on their weaknesses and playing to their strengths. One could be tempted to describe him as a morally gray character, but Lyga manages to balance his good side with the side that has the potential to become like his father. You’ll be rooting for Jazz every single moment of this book.

Jazz also happens to have the best support system on the face of the planet, and you’ll love them just as much as he does. Connie is Jazz’s girlfriend, and let me just say right now that she’s the best YA girlfriend I’ve encountered. She’s more than just a side piece chirpily cheering him along, staying in the background. Hell no. She’s fully involved in every aspect of his life, from continuously reminding him that he is indeed a good person to calling him out on his bullshit. Yes, you read that right. Connie is not the type of girlfriend to let her man walk all over her and use her.
”’I’m so sick of this. So sick of this constant pity party you throw for yourself. I love you, you moron. I try to be understanding and supportive, but you keep acting like I don’t get you. And you keep trying to scare me and push me away.”
And you know how much of a badass she is? She’s such a badass that Jazz actually listens to her. I never thought I would live to see the day where a white, male YA author writes a YA relationship better than some female authors. I didn’t think it was even possible, but MIRACLES HAPPEN.

But my favorite character by far in this book (other than Jazz, of course), is Howie. Howie and Jazz have been best friends since grade school, but it’s an unconventional friendship to say the least. I mean, when you’re dad is as infamous as he is, that’s unconventional in and of itself. But when you’re the son of a serial killer and your best friend is a Type A hemophiliac who bleeds if someone looks at him the wrong way; now that’s what I call unconventional. And yet despite this, Jazz and Howie are the best of friends through thick and thin.
”Howie had been there all along, always a friend. He was Jazz’s friend when Billy was still home, pretending to be just another single dad juggling his child with his job. And Howie was there when Billy got arrested, and in the shocking days right after the arrest. Most important of all, Howie remained his friend in the dark days afterward.”
And because of this, we are treated to some of the sassiest, most sarcastic and glorious dialogue I have had the pleasure of reading. This whole review space could probably consist of me just quoting every time Howie opens his mouth, but here are some of the best lines in the book that are just too good not to read.
”'I can't believe you told her. Whatever happened to bros before hoes?'

'There's a little-known corollary to bros before hos, which states that if Bro One is terrified because Bro Two's girlfriend can make his nose bleed just by looking at him the wrong way, he's allowed to put hos before bros. I chose to implement that corollary because your girlfriend is a total badass.'”

”’What’s your middle name?’
‘Why do you want to know?’
‘Serial killers all have three names. I’m checking to see what yours is like.’
‘Fine. Francis. It’s Francis.’
‘Jasper Francis Dent. Jasper Francis Dent. Jasper Francis Dent. Nah, it doesn’t work. Doesn’t sound right. I don’t think you’re a serial killer.’”

”’Are you gonna have a scar?’
‘A little one. I wanted a nice big one, but no one asked me, on account of me being unconscious at the time. Can you believe it?”
Howie is easily the most hilarious character of the book, but his friendship with Jasper is so genuine and heartfelt that you’ll want to be friends right there alongside them.

And then there’s Billy Dent. He only makes a flesh and blood appearance once, and it’s toward the end. However, his voice is ever present in Jazz’s head, and it’s goddamn creepy. So once you actually get to the part where Jazz confronts his father in prison, it’s absolutely terrifying. Lyga could have easily gone the stereotypical serial killer root, but he chillingly makes Billy equal parts charming seducer and loving father with a whole bottle full of blood and gore.
”To his son, he had been a god. A war god, a god of love, the two of them intertwined in a sick hybrid. Billy Dent excelled at alternating brute force with tender love, then blending the two together until Jazz thought that being forced to mop up blood spatter was just a natural way to show love to his dad.”
This is one father/son pairing that you wish will never have happened.

As far as the mystery is concerned, it was absolutely genius. I won’t give anything away, but I will say that they are one sick bastard. How on earth Lyga managed to cook up such deliriously crazy characters I will never know (better yet, don’t want to know). It kept me on my toes and compelled my fingers to keep turning the pages well past when I should have. I never guessed who it was until the final reveal, and I wasn’t disappointed.

YA mysteries face a bit of a conundrum when it comes to writing them. I think the publishing industry/authors feel that they have to tone down the gore/violence/language because of the age range targeted (and probably also to keep the parents happy so their book doesn’t get banned). But Barry Lyga says a big giant “Fuck you” to that notion with this book series. It’s violent, it’s gory, it’s real, and it’s the best YA mystery series out there. It’s sick, twisted, and gloriously demented. The characters are likable but all too human, and their struggles and triumphs will have you rooting harder for a bunch of teenagers than you would have thought. And it will have you wondering, come book two and three, whether or not Jazz will take the bait and become the one thing he doesn't want to.

But do yourself a favor in the meantime and read this book for a spell... if you dare.
Profile Image for Annika.
453 reviews102 followers
January 21, 2016

First of all, let me say this:
Though it is shelved as such, I Hunt Killers is not a Young Adult novel. The book implies rape and contains graphic violence and brutal murders. Definitely not suited for anyone under the age of 16.


Now that that's settled...

I have a love/hate relationship with thrillers. On the one hand, I love the suspense, the guessing, the adrenaline. On the other hand... I hate the suspense, the guessing, the adrenaline. I don't deal well with not knowing what's going on. I don't like being left in the dark, and seem to fight a constant battle against myself while reading to not skip to the last chapter and just find out who the culprit is already. It's exhausting, really. But, then again, it's also exhilarating.
Like I said. Love/hate.

This was one of those stories that just gripped me and didn't let go of me again. I Hunt Killers is a brilliantly woven psychological thriller with a unique approach to crime investigation.

124 - that's the number of people Billy Dent had brutally murdered, many of them in front of his little son's very eyes, before he was captured and convicted 4 years ago; but not before teaching him everything he knew about killing.
Jazz knew killers. Billy had studied the serial killers of the past the way painters study the Renaissance masters. He learned from their mistakes. He obsessed over them. And he passed his knowledge down to his son. Lucky Jazz—those were the things he remembered from his childhood.

Now, at the age of 17, Jazz is one messed up kid. Seemingly normal and even charming on the outside, he constantly struggles against the not so normal urges inside of him. Jazz doesn't want to be evil, doesn't want to follow in his sociopathic father's footsteps and pick up where he left off, but it's getting harder to resist every day.
“Someday,” he murmured. “Someday I could snap. I’m my father’s son. It could happen. And when that day comes, when I take my first victim…it could even be you.”

When dead bodies start piling up in his town, showing a disconcerting resemblance to his father's victims, Jazz gets the chance to prove to himself and the people around him that he is more than just a killer's son. He can hide and pretend the killing spree has nothing to to with him, or he can make use of his knowledge in order to help the police catch the copycat.

I loved being in Jazz's head. It was equally disturbing and fascinating to follow his complex thought process. His ability to easily read and manipulate people (courtesy of his dad's schooling), to work his way into the killer's mind and try to figure out his motives, while simultaneously battling against his own demons was such an intriguing thing to witness. I just couldn't help liking Jazz.
Jazz had an advantage the average teen could never have: a sociopath’s ability to fake absolutely any emotion with utterly convincing authority.

The way the author managed to scotch any suspicions I might have developed towards some of the characters by simply letting Jazz analyze everybody, well.. it was frustrating, to say the least. And that made the story all the more appealing.
People matter. People are real. People matter. He couldn’t convince himself.

An intelligent plot, an alluring protagonist, a terrifying villain and an array of fantastically developed supporting characters.
Exactly what I needed and what I was looking for in this book. 5 stars!
Profile Image for Crowinator.
810 reviews361 followers
April 24, 2012
First Line: “By the time Jazz got to the field outside town, yellow police tape was everywhere, strung from stake to stake in a sort of drunken, off-kilter hexagon.”

Cover Story: Night Prowler
“I'm your Night Prowler, break down your door
I'm your Night Prowler, crawling 'cross your floor
I'm your Night Prowler, make a mess of you, yes I will
Night Prowler, and I am telling this to you
There ain't nothing you can do” – AC/DC

Five-Sentence Summary:
Jasper “Jazz” Dent wants nothing more than to be left alone, but as the only son of notorious serial killer Billy Dent, responsible for over 100 brutal murders, he knows his life will never be normal. Dear Old Dad educated his son in the ways of killers, and even though Billy is in prison now, he’s still always there in Jazz’s head, whispering. That’s why when new bodies begin turning up in his home town that are eerily similar to Billy’s kills, Jazz has to clear his name early – and what better way than to catch the copycat killer himself? With his friends’ help, and with the reluctant cooperation of the selfsame detective that caught his father, Jazz investigates the murders in order to prove his innocence. If only he felt as innocent as he appears . . .

Style & Substance:
Is it wrong to refer to a semi-gory psychological thriller about serial killers as a scream?

Because this book is a scream.

No matter how vivid the gore, how serious the stakes, or how melodramatic the angst, this is a funny book. And the funny bits don’t undercut the horror, or make it any less tense or frightening. If anything, Jazz’s breezy gallows humor gives him a likability he might not have had otherwise, being that he is constantly assessing other people as objects of manipulation and potential violence (this one looks weak and would be easy to overcome; this one I’d have to sneak up on; this one can be taken in by a megawatt smile and a friendly tone). He has moments where he is downright chilling (such as his observation that the more people are in an area, the more expendable they seem, just by virtue of their being so many of them), but cracking a self-aware joke works sort of like a defense mechanism; it’s funny but the fear and insecurity that the humor comes from makes him relatable.

Howie, Jazz’s best friend, also provides levity with his self-depreciating wit, his goofiness, and his matter-of-fact jokes over Jazz’s family history. He’s genuinely quirky, ordering strange concoctions from the local coffee place and wishing for weird tattoos that he cannot get because of his hemophilia. Jazz’s Gramma is also funny, though the fact that her paranoid dementia and shotgun waving is often played for laughs is troubling. But that’s what’s great about a funny, creepy book, and why I love horror comedies more than horror; spinning something that’s sad or terrible into something funny can make it that much more disturbing. It also relieves tension (all the better to shock you later, mwahaha!), a technique that Lyga uses well here.

I thought Lyga did an excellent job telling the story from the POV of a charming but disassociated teenager, always an outsider, looking in on others as if observing a lesser or alien species. Jazz has to remind himself: People are real. People matter. Because when you lack empathy, you lack the ability to value other people the way you value yourself. Does Jazz really lack empathy? His internal struggle over wanting to hurt and to protect people is really well developed. Is Jazz a burgeoning sociopath with homicidal tendencies? Or is he a damaged but ultimately redeemable kid struggling to overcome his father’s brainwashing? There’s no clear answer yet, but so far it seems like Jazz has a choice. I speculate that a lot of what happens to him will hinge on his mother: recovering those lost, seriously disturbing memories, and seeing if they add up to what he’s always believed.

Lyga does an excellent job, also, of making this a true mystery novel. It’s not obvious who the killer is . The police detective, G. William, isn’t a moron designed to make Jazz look good; he’s legitimately smart, canny, and dogged in his investigations, and his reluctant partnership with Jazz is about as believable as that sort of thing can be. There are a lot of red herrings that I feel were cleverly done, and the suspenseful scene where Jazz goes to talk to his father and ask for help just makes the puzzle bigger, rather than provide any pieces. That said, the reveal of the Impressionist is a little disappointing, because I wanted Jazz to figure it out (like I had) before the killer showed himself, but their showdown is tense and scary, and that moment of horror after gives it a perfect ending.

Vicarious Smoochies:
There is not much romance in this book, which is good because it would be seriously out of place. Jazz is in an established relationship with Connie, who “gets” him (or at least thinks she does), and theirs is a surprisingly healthy and supportive pairing, given that one of them is afraid to have sex in case it also comes with unsexy killing urges. Connie is a grounding force for Jazz, someone who makes him feel safe, but she also has the balls to stand up to him and call him out on “Billy-like” behavior or excessive pity-partying. I’m willing to believe that Jazz does love her (and Howie), and if he can love, than perhaps he’s got more layers than he gives himself credit for.

Mood Ring: Blood Red
There’s something entirely creepy and wrong about blood red when it’s in large doses; for example at the Seattle Public Library’s meeting room floor, whose hallways are curved and done in an endless swath of deep, dark red. (Google it to see, but know that it is much, much worse in person.) It makes the hair stand up on your arms. That’s how this book is.

Kindred Quote:
“It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.” – Anne Sexton

Random Asides:
It’s a book about serial killers who torture their victims before killing them. It’s gonna be graphic. But I don’t think Lyga crosses the line into gore-for-gore’s sake; I think the gory elements are at an entirely appropriate degree. Just enough to make it seem realistic and grim and scary, but not so much that you feel like the story has devolved into an 80's slasher movie. That said, I watch and read a lot of horror and detective stories, and while I have my triggers, I might be more inured to the graphic nature of the murders in this book than the average person. (I also might feel differently if it had hit one of my triggers harder.) So be warned: this isn’t for those of you who can’t stomach your basic finger-chopping, stabby-stabby, drain-cleaner poisoning scenes.

Murder ballads
In looking for the lyrics to “Night Prowler” that I quoted above, I found a whole list of murder ballads. I had no idea there were so many, and that so many were so disturbing. Billy Dent should totally have a murder ballad written about him.

Everyone will compare this to Dexter, of course, as it is the most apt. Any other crime procedural television show will also work, too, but I think Criminal Minds is the best example (as they deal almost exclusively with serial killers and often show things from the killer’s perspective), particularly the two episodes “Sex, Birth, Death” and “Birthright”. While Silence of the Lambs is a great choice, I also think this would pair well with the lesser-known movie Copycat, in which a serial killer expert (Sigourney Weaver – yes!) is tormented by a copycat who kills in the manner of other notorious serial killers, including the one she helped catch.

As for books, I can think of several: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, for the dark, witty tone and gory dead things; White Cat, The Demon’s Lexicon, and Anna Dressed in Blood for other looks into charming, dishonest, loner-like young men who realize they might be killers at heart (and who can quip with the best of them). All of them have elements of mystery, humor, and psychological horror.

Finally, I haven’t read The Killer Inside Me, by Jim Thompson, yet, but it looks like a good choice for someone who wants a grittier, adult read.

People matter. People are real.

Loved it, even though I correctly guessed THA KILLAH! This has major series potential, as there aren't really enough teen sleuths who have the capacity to be serial murderers AND comedians as well. I loved all the characters, I loved the entirely necessary level of gore (actually, I think it was a bit tame, but I have been mainlining Criminal Minds for a long time), and I love that the mystery kept me guessing. If I had to come up with one criticism, I would admit that at one point I rolled my eyes Jazz's tortured self-doubt because the language he uses to express it is repetitive enough that it started to feel melodramatic, but then I was sucked back into the spell of this novel where it all felt appropriately dramatic and serious. So . . . not much criticism, then. Longer review to come.
Profile Image for Misty.
796 reviews1,232 followers
April 5, 2012
There are always times when you think the concept of a book is so interesting and potentially awesome that you're sure you're going to be let down when you read it.  It's some little failsafe in our brains, preparing us for disappointment because we're pretty sure we're going to be let down.  And then, when that doesn't happen, and we actually get what we are hoping for - there's this moment of shock.  It's a little thrilling, actually.  And it's all the more special for being rare.
Thankfully - for me, at least - I Hunt Killers delivers one of those moments.

Barry Lyga gave me exactly what I was looking for.  The Nature vs. Nurture debate is one of the most interesting to me, and in a story like this, where a boy is essentially being groomed to be the world's finest Serial Killer Extraordinaire by his, um - talented? - father, Nature vs. Nurture takes center stage.  Jazz's father has been in jail for 4 years by the time the book opens, but Jazz can't really get out from under his shadow.  He's been programmed to see the weaknesses in people, and his own superiority, and then to use that.  Being in his head, the reader gets to see what a struggle it is for Jazz to have any kind of normalcy.  He clings to the things that make him human because he's terrified that he's a ticking timebomb - he's just waiting for something to set him off.  He tries so hard to remind himself to be normal, because he's so terrified that he's not.  It's like N.vs.N. in a petri dish - a one-man psychological experiment in whether we really have any control over who we become.

Psychologically, this book could not have been any more what I wanted it to be.  It was exactly what I was hoping for, unsettling and a little heartbreaking, fascinating and creepy. The doubt (both on Jazz's part and on the reader's, for Jazz) was just perfect.  The way Jazz pushes people away and tests them to see if they'll finally give up on him - it's almost like a part of him is waiting for someone to give him permission.  For someone important to him to show that they think he's hopeless, so that he can finally let go of the tension and the burden of trying not to be his dad, and just give in to what he perceives to be inevitable.  He's so hyper-aware of everything, every advantage and disadvantage.  Jazz, and the narration, was knowingly calculating, which is chilling on its own, but what's great is that it chills Jazz too - but not enough to stop him from doing what has to be done.

The tone, too, was exactly what I wanted. It's darkly humorous at times, and other times just plain dark, but it's prevented from being completely bleak by the human connections in Jazz's life.  It's through them that you know Jazz isn't a lost-cause, because they see the humanity in Jazz that he's tortured himself into pretending doesn't exist.  Through them, you know he has the potential to be loving, to be a good person, and you see the burdens he places on himself - and all the while, that good portion of his life is being constantly undermined by Jazz's impressions of himself and his fear that any good he does, any love he feels, is just an act.  The blind his inner serial killer hides behind.  It's fascinating.

And interlaced with all of this, there are snippets of things Jazz saw or did with his father, as well as snippets of narration from the current Lobo's Nod serial killer, which help escalate the tension and show what Jazz really is up against and why he's so haunted. The way these scenes from his past creep up on him and never let him have peace were a really nice layer to the story.  All of it - the killer's obsession and plotting, Jazz's understanding of the horrors and his own calculation, his grandmother's craziness and his father's sociopathic glee - all of that combines to make it a really gripping read.  And though it's gruesome, it's never gratuitous.  Lyga eschews continual bloodbaths and cheap startles in favor of a layered psychological thriller that is far more chilling as a result.
Profile Image for Mimi.
265 reviews358 followers
June 5, 2012
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

It's hard to imagine how a serial killer's mind works. But Barry Lyga must have some sort of shady part time job or at least serial killer mind-reading powers, because this book is BRILLIANT.

Jazz — son of the most notorious serial killer, snarky teenager, and overall charmer — takes the phrase dark hero to extremes! Being brought up by his psychotic father, he has How To Be A Good Serial Killer lessons ingrained on his brain. Sometimes they help him figure out other cases, and sometimes they make him seem more twisted than he is. But his dark assessments are what make him so uniquely awesome, and loving Jazz is guaranteed! ♥

The rest of the cast is a riot too! Jazz's best friend Howie is a type-A hemophiliac and a quirky chatterbomb, which makes him the perfect sidekick to Jazz's dark-minded hero. His girlfriend Connie is a complete badass. And we can't forget Gramma Dent, whose hilarious incoherent ramblings prove that maybe being out-of-whack runs in the family.

I Hunt Killers is dark. There are mentions of bodies being nailed to ceilings and eyeballs being fed to cats. But it's also surprisingly funny, with witty lines that catch you off guard. I didn't expect to be that enamoured by this book, but the serial killer logistics and chilling details had me reading into the early hours of the morning!

Part compelling murder mystery, part intense psychological thriller, and 100 % brilliantly original story, I Hunt Killers is a deliciously dark novel that I would recommend to people of all sanity levels! Jasper Dent, I can't wait to learn more about you in book two! ;)

BUY or BORROW?: Not only is the cover under the dust jacket bloodily gorgeous, but the story is SO wow-worthy! If you've ever been interested in how the son of a serial killer thinks, then you need to buy this book ASAP!

(Original review at Mimi Valentine's YA Review Blog)
Profile Image for Spider the Doof Warrior.
433 reviews238 followers
December 19, 2017
This book is full of great characters. I love Jasper. I love how strong and smart Connie is and how off the wall Howie is.

And man, is Jazz's dad evil. He does love his son, but dang. He's horrible! He's trying to turn Jazz into a copy of him. A serial killer like him. Jazz struggles with his messed up childhood and trying to resolve all of these issues. He doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps. He'd rather prevent murder than be a murderer.

This book is a YA version of Dexter in a way, but it's still gritty and actually much better than Dexter which peaked at season 4. Read this book if you like dark crime dramas, redemption and an excellent lack of race fail.

Read it again. You should read it too. Just do it.

Still think this book is worth reading even though it is very disturbing.
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