Thursday, June 21, 2012
Audiobook review: I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)
Author: Barry Lyga
Narrator: Charlie Thurston
Publication date: April 3rd 2012
Publisher: Hachette Audio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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, the next time I see the name Charlie Thurston on an audiobook, I won’t hesitate to pick it up.