I am Death (Robert Hunter #7), by Chris Carter

Nine stars

Carter offers readers another chance to see Detective Robert Hunter at work, crossing paths with the most sadistic killers LA has to offer. When a mutilated body turns up next to LAX, Hunter and his partner, Carlos Garcia, are sent to investigate. Little do they realise, but the signs of torture and sexual assault are the least intriguing pieces of the puzzle. A note lodged in the woman’s throat introduces the Ultra Violent Crimes detectives to their latest serial killer, who refers to himself as ‘I AM DEATH’. When another body turns up, the only similarity is another note from I AM DEATH, leaving Hunter to wonder what kind of killer changes his MO and killing style so radically. In a parallel sub-plot, an eleven-year-old is kidnapped and severely abused, to the point of breaking down, and given the moniker SQUIRM. Degraded and with no hope of escape, Squirm is forced to live alongside the killer and witness unspeakable horrors. As clues slowly trickle in, Hunter does his best to analyse the notes to find something that ties them all together, hoping to stop this killer before the bodies continue piling up. As sadistic as any novel in the series, Carter leaves nothing out of bounds and pulls the reader in from the outset, begging them to try walking away before the final turn of the page. 

As with all Carter novels, this one pulls the reader into the core of a psychological mystery and will not let go. Be it the strong connection to Robert Hunter, the graphic details of crimes and criminal behaviour, or the short chapters that leave the reader wanting more, something keeps the novel pushing onwards without losing any momentum. Carter is at the height of the genre and knows how to navigate the nuances that keep the reader from straying. The gory details may not be for some, nor will the highly disturbing description of some situations, but for those who can stomach this, the story comes to life and makes for a sensational read. Carter stands alone with his gift for fluid storytelling, even if he does enjoy living outside the reader’s comfort zone.

Kudos, Mr. Carter for such a riveting piece of work, tapping into the darkest corners of the genre.