Jazz Dent, 17, is called upon by the NYPD to offer insight only the son of a serial killer can provide, and he quickly assesses that Hat-Dog is playing some sort of game. But what are the rules? When finally revealed, the game seems slap-yourself- on-the-forehead obvious, yet orchestrated so cunningly that rare indeed will be the reader who figures it out early. Along the way, Lyga pulls off two neat tricks. Second, Lyga continues to navigate that thinnest of tightropes: a hero we root for even as he manipulates people as ruthlessly as his pop.
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You think you can trust him, you let your guard down, you let yourself dream of a future of satisfying horror stories and then, out of the blue, he does something terrible. Almost unforgivable. Oh, Barry Lyga, I thought I knew you better than that. He set up a terrific cast of characters in that book — Jazz, the son of an infamous serial killer, his best friend Howie, a brittle hemophiliac, and straight shooting girlfriend, Connie. Perfect set up for a series, and I was excited to see that there was a sequel.
This time around, Jazz is summoned to New York to help with a murder investigation. It is a little far-fetched to imagine any police officer calling on him to actually assist with a case, but this is fiction and the characters are so good that I was able to roll with the somewhat outlandish premise of the story.
Anyway, Jazz is helping investigate a series of brutal killings and his father is still playing with his head, despite having been arrested 4 years previous. Billy Dent is a truly nasty piece of work and understanding him, being able to relate to him and his ilk, and the fear of becoming like him mess with Jazz incessantly. The story here is great.
Jazz is put to work again using his unwanted set of skills to track down a serial killer. The bad guy is truly bad, the Author Barry Lyga horror is well written and graphic. Lyga does not talk down to his YA audience, but these books are not for young teens or the squeamish. Jazz remains compelling, sympathetic and a little scary. His father remains horrifying, and the new killer tries hard to live up to Billy Dent standards.
But the end. Oh, Barry Lyga, how could you? I Hunt Killers gave us a series opener that was both a satisfying self-contained story as well as a set up for future installments. Game ends with a giant cliffhanger. Not even a cliffhanger, it ends in the middle of everything. I knew with 50 pages to go that there was no way it was all going to wrap up and kept on reading with dawning horror as the true level of cruelty revealed itself piece by piece and I was left dangling from the precipice screaming NOOOOOOOOOOO!
The only thing I could find was a projected date for some time in I wish I had.