Written in Blood (Robert Hunter #11), by Chris Carter

Nine stars

After devouring a sensational psychological thriller by an up and coming great author of the genre, she reminded me of her passion for Chris Carter and spoke highly of his work. With Carter’s latest on my teetering TBR pile, I knew it was time to pull it to the top and return to the dark world of serial killers, who are safe to roam the streets of LA until Detective Robert Hunter locks onto their scent. Carter offers yet another stunning novel that reminds me just how passionate I get about great writing and a disturbing plot line. With only a few weeks until Christmas, Angela Wood is doing her best to reap the rewards of being a pickpocket, that is, until she targets the wrong man. Her stash for the night may include a sizeable amount of money, but there’s also a satchel with a mysterious journal inside. After gazing at it for only a moment, Angela realises that she is in too deep and turns the journal over to the authorities in a way only she could devise. When the journal is revealed to Detective Robert Hunter of the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit of the LAPD, he and his partner, Carlos Garcia, begin at the start, only to realise what they have before them is a murder journal. The pages include a narrative about what ‘the voices’ are telling this person to do, which includes photos of the sixteen various victims. The names all match missing persons reports, but the deaths have never been reported and the bodies never found. Hunter and Garcia follow the precise coordinates offered for the first victim, which leads them to a coffin in the ground, one in which the victim was mishandled before and after death, as well as viewed as she suffocated, by web cam. As Hunter and Garcia delve deeper, they learn about Angela and her role in all of this. What begins as an interrogation soon turns into something much more dangerous, as the killer locks onto the lowly pickpocket and wants his journal back. When Hunter and Garcia learn more about the voices and the killer’s likely schizophrenia, they know that what they thought was real has taken a significant turn for the worse. After Angela is plucked from protective custody, the race is on, with a killer who only wants a journal and is prepared to kill anyone in his path for get it, turning Hunter into hunted! Stunning in its presentation, Chris Carter has done it again. Binge worthy writing if ever there was some in the genre! Recommended to those who need something dark and sadistic to keep their reading life spiced up, as well as the reader who cannot get enough of the genre.

I have never gone wrong since I picked up the first of the Robert Hunter novels. Chris Carter is a master craftsman and knows just how to lead the reader down a path before trapping them inside the prison that is his narrative. Robert Hunter is back for an eleventh (!) novel and could not be more in tune with his job. With no real backstory to add to his complex past, the book focuses on his present and some development, though things tend to be fairly case-centred for him. Hunter uses his intuitiveness and keen skills to hone in on the minutiae that help blow the case wide open, though he is not one to wait patiently when the clock is ticking. Series fans will likely enjoy his grit and determination, though he can sometimes lack the sense of humour needed to offset the work he does. The handful of secondary characters keep this story on point, while serving to help push the story in a forward direction. Carter knows which tools to use and when in order to make it an adventure the reader will not soon forget, flavouring the narrative with dialogue, development, and even some twists that no one saw coming. Offering clues like breadcrumbs, Carter begs the reader to follow, but warns that there may be no way out, save to finish this sadistic piece of writing, when the killer’s true intentions are revealed. The story is nothing less than I would expect from Carter and the rawness is something that some readers will likely find over the top. His mix of chapter lengths reel the reader in and force them to negotiate a web of intense emotions and a case that gets more complex the deeper Hunter delves. With that warning though, anyone prepared to allow themselves into a world where no depravity towards victims seems too much, Chris Carter is one of the only guides you’ll ever need!

Kudos, Mr. Carter, for another stellar piece of writing. I cannot wait to see what else you have to offer.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons