For me, picking up a Chris Carter novel is like pushing my feet into my favourite pair of fluffy slippers. I know the enjoyment is going to be immediate and intense and the aches and pains of the day will instantly evaporate as I get swept up into a maelstrom of terror, horror and excitement. I've yet to read one of his novels that didn't get a straight 5/5 score and I Am Death was no different.
I was recently having a discussion with a friend, who is an equally avid reader, about crime fiction, which is by far our favourite genre for both of us. We said that we were getting far too good at working out the mysteries early on in the books and that many of the serial killers were too alike, with similar personalities and MO's. We came to the conclusion that there have been so many works of crime fiction written by now that it must be hard to come up with an original way to kill someone. Well, I don't know where Chris Carter gets his inspiration from, but he certainly has no trouble in this department. Yet again, I read with wide-eyed horror and fascination, mixed in with a certain amount of admiration for the author, as I discovered the sickeningly wicked and depraved ways that Chris Carter's latest killer played with and bumped off his victims.
This is the seventh Robert Hunter novel, but each one can be enjoyed as a standalone novel as they are all completely separate cases and the banter between Hunter and his partner Garcia instantly reveals the rapport and history that the two men share. I have read some but not all of the others - you can click through to read my reviews of An Evil Mind (book 6), One By One (book 5), The Death Sculptor (book 3) and The Crucifix Killer (book 1) - I really need to put books 4 and 2 on my Christmas wishlist !
In this book, Hunter and Garcia come up against another sickeningly twisted and inhumane serial killer who is playing with the detectives, leaving them clues and sending them notes and challenging them to uncover his identity. The atrocity of his crimes would be unbearable if Chris Carter revelled purely in the blood and guts aspect, but it is more about the psychological impact of the writing - with him masterfully cranking up the fear factor, the horrible anticipation and the pure shock value of the murders, both for the victims and the reader - than the mindless bloodshed that hack-and-slash horror movies tend to focus on and that leaves me cold.
Chris Carter once again proves his sheer brilliance with a sickening and irredeemable killer who nevertheless shows a glimmer of humanity at the end and almost (but only almost !) makes us feel some small amount of sympathy for him. The plot is fast paced with twists and turns and red herrings à go-go. Even as a seasoned crime fiction fan, he had me fooled and the big reveal came as a complete surprise. I had one niggle at the end - what happened to the little boy? - but he may resurface in another novel or, I suspect, he is just supposed to make us reflect on the fact that despite catching another serial killer, there is undoubtedly another one in the making ready to take his place.
I Am not Death but I Am Deathly tired now because I'm been reading past my bedtime every night for the past week, desperate to get to the end (and now I'm sad that I have !).
star rating : 5/5
RRP : £7.99