The Crucifix Killer by Chris Carter

A review of the crime thriller novel The Crucifix Killer by Chris Carter.

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A book by my favourite author, The Crucifix Killer is not for the squeamish. It stars Detective Robert Hunter, a socially awkward genius, with an amazing ability to “get inside the killer’s mind,” and Carlos Garcia, a brilliant detective who has just joined the violent crimes unit of the NYPD, and is partnered with Hunter. The story centres on a crime, the crucifix killings, that Robert Hunter had supposedly solved before. Starting in the present day, the story then goes back to bring the reader up to speed on the plot. I don’t generally like flashbacks, often used as a tool to cover poor writing ideas, but Carter does it well. There are subtle clues along the way as to the identity of the killer, so if, like me, you like trying to work out who it is, you can.

Carter drip-feeds information about the main characters throughout the book and, cleverly, leads you into thinking you know them, before delivering a curve-ball, making you go “ah” or “oh.”

The book is really well written and has twists and subterfuge all the way through. The character development is amazing (I found myself slightly in love with Robert Hunter by the end of the book). This happened quite subtly, without me realising I had really started to care about, not only Hunter, but other characters too: Garcia, the captain and even the coroner. I think this is helped by the authenticity of the police procedure. Although a lot of this needed to be explained, I never felt as if the writer was talking down to me nor treating me as if I were an idiot.

As with lots of well written characters, Hunter has a back story. I think the thing that Carter does differently, and well, is to not give the full story all in the first few chapters, or book! As I have said, the writer drip-feeds the information, but in such a way that you, as a reader, do not feel that it’s done to keep you buying his books. It actually feels like it’s the right time to find out another part of his story. Also, at no point are you made to feel sorry for Hunter. It does however illicit a gamut of different emotions. In one of the later books, I found myself incredibly angry for Hunter when another part was revealed. The main thing, though, is that I truly believe all these different parts of Hunter’s story Chris Carter knew before he started writing this first book. I don’t believe he has invented parts to try and fit with a new story (the old long lost son/cousin/brother/dog plot line).

The Crucifix Killer is Carter’s debut novel. He actually worked as a profiler for the FBI before turning to writing, so his books offer a sense of conviction, at times quite a scary thought, and realism.

I would recommend reading the Crucifix Killer and I hope you get as much from reading it as I have. Seven books in and my son and I are still discussing what happened in Robert Hunter’s past.

Cassidy grew up in Thanet and lives here with her family.

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