Published by Simon & Schuster
Last year I was intrigued to see the name Chris Carter in the panel listings for the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival – was the guy that created The X-Files and Millennium really going to be at the event?
Then, when I stumbled across his first novel in the shops, ‘The Crucifix Killer’, and bought it, I realised my mistake but realised that here was another creative force who just happened to share a name with the other Mr Carter and, what’s more, this guy does serial killers superbly well.
It’s a genre that in most hands has become tired and somewhat hackneyed over the years, with countless Hannibal the Cannibal bargain basement versions filling the bookstores, and leaving just the Val McDermid’s of this world to show the others how it can still be done well.
I’d now add Chris Carter to that small list of ‘those who know’. And, in fact, he does know, for, as the back of his latest bookjacket shouts ‘Chris Carter knows Serial Killers. Robert Hunter catches them’ – no mere publishers blurb as, before becoming a novelist and sending his main character to hunt killers down, Carter worked for several years as a criminal psychologist working serial killer and murder cases – so this really is a case of getting demons out onto the page.
I really enjoy the central character of Robert Hunter – he’s a troubled soul and Carter puts him through the mill at pretty much every opportunity, but he’s often saved by his own skills developed in his own dark past such as the skill of lip-reading, which comes in very handy in The Night Stalker.
The devices (literally) that Carter employs in the clever kills within this latest novel (the third in the series after ‘The Crucifix Killer’ and ‘The Executioner’ are absolutely terrifying and the opening scene in a coroner’s room is one that will stay with me for a long time to come – once you’ve read chapter one I defy you to put this one down.
Carter has a fantastic use of short snappy chapters many of which make great use of something unseen or unheard by the reader at the very end, forcing you into the next chapter to gain the, often horrific, reveal.
The Night Stalker also gives Hunter a bit of a nemesis to play against in a real love/hate battle in the form of investigator Whitney Myers who is working a missing person’s case that collides with his investigations into the growing pattern of serial murders.
This is a great thrill ride, think the better elements of SAW meeting Se7en head –on, mixed with some great characters and you’d be about there.
As serial killer novels go, I’m chalking this one up on my cell-wall as one of my guilty pleasures.
Put it down at your peril – you really won’t want this in your head at night half finished….