Daily Archives: October 4, 2011

Victim Six by Gregg Olsen

Published by Robinson (Constable & Robinson).

This is not just another serial killer book.

With ‘Victim Six’, New York Times’ best-selling author Gregg Olsen has created the script for what could be one of the best films on the subject ever made or, with its great episodic structure, a great television event – if in the right hands.

Its number maybe Six but in many scenes this out Se7en’s ‘Se7en’, and if you thought a head in a box was as bad as things can get, take a breath and think again – this is not for the faint-hearted.

Set in the area of Kitsap, Washington, Detective Kendall Stark has her own share of life’s problems, including a special needs son, and now she has stumbled, along with her partner Josh Anderson, on a series of victims that appear to be linked.  The killer is savage and mocking, keeping local news reporter on ‘The Lighthouse’ paper, Serenity Hutchins up to speed with his evil acts.

This is not a comfortable read and, I have to confess, at the first graphic sexual torture scene I did think this book just wasn’t for me, but I stuck with it.  The reasons why?  You may ask.

Well, firstly, the structure of the book works so well, it reads just as a case unfolding (no doubt a skill developed with his true crime books), with the reader uncovering the details at more or less the same speed as the investigators.  It also has the nice touch of revealing the killer and some of the reasoning about midway, so that we can then stat to see the explosive ending on the horizon before the key players become aware of it.  But most of all I think ‘Victim Six’ works because the characters all work, most importantly the victims.  Each is given sufficient ‘screen-time’ – we get to know who they are, some of their background and family/friends – we get to see that they matter, they are not merely fodder for the mechanics of a kill list book.  With each victim being given  a section of the novel as the case moves forward, the reader cannot help but be drawn in, to the point where you won’t be able to pull back out.

I’m just flicking through my notes from as I read the book, and despite the fact that I feel best not to include the moments that made me write them (best you discover them in the same way as I did), I have never scribbled OMG in my review notes for any book before, and did so several times whilst reading ‘Victim Six’!

So, it’s a taut, disturbing and, at times, very grisly read, but one that does its job – if you want a serial killer book, you want it to feel real, right?  Gregg Olsen’s ‘Victim Six’ does that, and serves everyone well: its investigators, its victims and its readers.

And, I’m very pleased to say that, after meeting Gregg this morning at a launch for this and his exciting new YA series (more of that soon), I have a signed copy of VICTIM SIX up for grabs for one lucky reader.

To be in with a chance, leave a comment below and your email address, putting ‘AT’ instead of ‘@’ to confuse those pesky spammers!  I’ll pick a winner in a couple of weeks time.

Good luck – one of you can have some sleepless nights very soon!


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