Sunday, August 2, 2015

How A Serial Killer Thinks

The Killing Lessons
by Saul Black
400 pages
$12.99 Kindle version
The Killing Lessons is a suspense-thriller about a San Francisco homicide detective, Valerie Hart, who has been hunting a serial killer for some time. Her career is in jeopardy, due to a lack of progress in the case, and her personal life is a train wreck. When a random home invasion appears to have the same modus operandi as the murders in her case file, Hart is determined to catch the killer, even if it kills her in the process.

Nell is the child who manages to escape from the grisly attack upon her family, but she is injured and trapped in a remote cabin with a crippled stranger. Unfortunately, the serial killer finds out there is a witness, he hunts Nell down as he tries to evade Detective Hart, and readers must bear witness to the deadly race between the two opposing forces.

Saul Black does an excellent job of portraying the horrific suffering of the victims, without being overly graphic, while contrasting the killer's determination with that of the detective to create a sickening masterpiece in terror. I wanted Hart to find the killer, not just to stop him, but to redeem herself...the way she devalued herself made it painful to read her POV. In comparison, Nell - the young girl - is truly the strongest female character, and her struggle to survive gave me more hope than anything Hart was doing.

There is also another female character, Carla York, a federal agent determined to kick Hart off the case and destroy the detective's career...I found her to be more of an antagonist than the actual serial killer. Black cleverly orchestrates drama between York and Hart to keep readers guessing about York's true motivation until the very end.

The ending is well-written, but not nearly as shocking as the events leading up to the finale. However, I enjoyed this story a great deal, and I will never look at the alphabet the same way again.

As always,

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