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“People matter. People are real,” Jasper Dent. —I Hunt Killers
I Hunt Killers
I Hunt Killers #1
by Barry Lyga
Jasper Francis Dent, who goes by Jazz, is the son of a famous serial killer who has been imprisoned for four years, but still has lasting effects on the boy’s life. Although Jazz is plagued by memories of the teachings his father gave to him, Jazz was almost adapting to living normally. He took care of his grandmother and had a best friend and girlfriend.
However, a serial killer imitating his father causes Jazz to change his life drastically. Instead of following in his father’s footsteps, he uses the inner workings of a serial killer’s mind to try to find out who is committing the murders. Jazz has to deal with reporters constantly hounding him, a sheriff who won’t let him look into the investigation, and a killer who is always one step ahead of everyone else.
I Hunt Killers has an exciting premise that hooks readers instantly. The story immediately throws Jazz into a crime scene surrounding a dead body. The gore and violence that the book opens up with are present throughout, but so is the thrill Jazz experiences trying to discover who committed the crime. The characters are well developed, unique, and convincing.
Jazz’s character is relatable because of his complexity and his competing desires. The reader is given a glimpse into Jazz’s thought process and is allowed to see his torment. Jazz wants to do good, but also struggles with the darker parts of himself, those parts that might be like this father. The themes in the book seem somewhat forced at times, but also provide messages related to independence, persevering through difficulty, and breaking cycles of abuse.
The book contains a somewhat predictable story, although the characters are unique and compelling. The story is written in a very approachable way, utilizing understandable language that clearly and quickly conveys Lyga’s message. At times, it seems like Jasper almost magically discovers clues to his victim. It is difficult to believe that a thirteen year old would reach the conclusions he does. This results in many of the revelations in the story feeling somewhat forced, and the twists feeling less surprising.
I Hunt Killers is a dark, disturbing, character-focused mystery in which the plot is often overlooked in favor of humor or graphic violence. Its story is predictable, but is otherwise an enticing read. The story shows the horrific nature of brutal crimes. Readers will want to take caution before picking up I Hunt Killers because of the subject matter, the graphic crime scenes, and the mind games that are played throughout the story.
- Many of the dead bodies in the book, including the first one, are found naked.
- Jazz thinks of a time he and his girlfriend spent “tangled up” at their hideout.
- Jazz says that another character’s reaction “felt like he’d just seen a nun do a striptease.”
- Jazz mentions having a pistol pointed at his “thirteen-year-old junk” in a memory from when his dad was first apprehended. He is seventeen at the time the book takes place.
- Howie wonders if the killer was just “having sex and stuff” and suggests that the killer’s girlfriend might have just hit her head and had a heart attack, resulting in him abandoning her at the scene.
- Howie perks up at the mention of “cleavage” while a dead body is investigated.
- Howie and Jazz contemplate whether or not the killer “did stuff” to his victim.
- Jazz and Connie kiss several times. Their kisses range from a “quick kiss on the lips” to “kissing and groping” that includes descriptive visuals such as “the soft insistence of Connie’s plush lips, to the warm of her tongue” and “a long, lingering kiss that warmed him [Jasper] all over.”
- Connie and Jazz spend the beginning of rehearsal “feverishly kissing and groping back in the wings.”
- A character is suspected to have “entertained some R-rated fantasies about the girls in his class.”
- Jazz says that “if you were in a room alone with her [Harriet Klein], you’d feel it.”
- Gramma Dent accuses Jazz of “Putting [his] thing inside them [whores]!”
- Jazz explains how serial killers often “jerk off” after revisiting crime scenes, which Howie says “ruined masturbation” for him.
- Howie calls a toe ring “sexy.”
- Jazz thinks about how he is obsessed with sex. “He was terrified of sex. Like every teenage boy, he was obsessed with it, of course, and wanted to have as much of it as humanly possible…”
- When Connie sits on Jazz’s lap, “he felt himself respond to her weight in his lap the only way a teen boy should respond.” Then, Connie adjusts herself in Jazz’s lap and grinds “her butt into his groin in that special pleasant/painful way.”
- Connie mentions how people dream about “having sex with a supermodel.”
- A character whose initials are “VD” reminds Howie of “venereal disease.”
- Jazz remembers how a female character’s breasts had pressed against him when they hugged.
- When Howie is hospitalized, Jazz asks jokingly if he wants “a hot nurse and a stripper pole.”
- Jazz recounts that one of Billy Dent’s victims was “sexually assaulted, invaded both vaginally and rectally.”
- Jazz suspects that the killer used “a sex toy or something” on one of his victims.
- Jazz says to Connie, “I bet I could warm you up,” implying sex. Connie “shifted, locking her ankles together.”
- Jazz thinks that “any straight male snuggling with Connie would be desperate to get those jeans off.”
- Gramma Dent, upon seeing a horde of reporters outside her home, believes they are enemy warriors and yells that “They’re gonna rape mongrel babies into me!”
- Howie suggests to Jazz that he “stick [his] tongue down her [Connie’s] throat.”
- Billy Dent asks if Jazz has “a little piece of tail [he] like[s] to bang,” and if “girls. . . line up for a taste of [his] dick.”
- Billy Dent talks to his son and asks, “are you always the one buyin’ the rubbers? Hmm? Or maybe she’s on that pill? Cause you can’t always trust ‘em, Jasper. You look at them rubbers real close-like, see?”
- Billy asks Jazz to “Tell Dear Old Dad your little pussy’s name.”
- Billy describes a victim with “Perfect little titties.”
- Billy says to Jazz “I’m glad you’re getting’ your dick wet.”
- Billy is suspected to have left semen and committed rape at a murder scene.
- G. William searched Jazz and placed a hand “uncomfortably close to the family jewels.”
- The book opens up with a police scene surrounding a dead body, and it is made clear that this will be a common theme in the novel.
- There are multiple instances of body bags being opened or used to store/view bodies. “Two cops approached the corpse with a body bag hanging limp between them… he focused on the struggle with the body bag.”
- Jazz often imagines entering violent scenarios with different characters.
- The killer’s specialty is to sever his victim’s fingers. Removed fingers are referred to as excised digits.
- Billy Dent killed over one hundred people, whose deaths are frequently referenced.
- Jazz experiences memories of his father describing his methods to commit murder. “Good boy. Good boy. (one cut, two cuts) Just like that.”
- Vivid descriptions of dead bodies are provided. “Dead female Caucasian… Found at least two miles from anywhere in any direction. Naked. No apparent bruising. Missing fingers.”
- Billy Dent kept trophies from his victims.
- Jazz has what looks like the “biggest god-damn pistol in the entire universe [pointed] right at [his] thirteen-year-old junk.”
- The experimentation process of serial killers is described as they try new methods of violence. “And they experiment. Cutting off the fingers…”
- G. William threatens to shoot Jazz.
- Jazz “was certain that the next day would have seen G. William dead by his own hand” if Billy Dent had not been found.
- Jazz imagines cutting a finger off.
- Jazz says that the death isn’t just “Joe-Bob McHick smacking around his girlfriend and then leaving her to die.”
- An autopsy is performed on a corpse.
- Jazz imagines G. William drawing his service revolver and putting “two slugs into his center of mass.”
- A joke is made about pointing an excised finger.
- Howie is a “type-A hemophiliac, which meant that he bled if you looked at him too hard,” and experiences large amounts of bleeding in the novel.
- Jazz beat up Howie’s bullies.
- Jazz experiences a bloody nose.
- A reference is made to Hannibal Lecter, the cannibal villain.
- Jazz thinks a crime would be easier to identify if there had been “some sort of savagery before death—torture, cutting mutilation…”
- Victims are strangled.
- During the investigation of a body, eyelids are peeled back.
- Howie’s face bleeds profusely from a nosebleed.
- Genocide and famine are referenced.
- A body is nailed naked to a ceiling in a church. “Her head lolling downward, her limbs bearing the weight of her body. When the reverend who found the body called the police, the skin and muscle were already coming loose.”
- An angered parent of a victim threatened to kidnap Jazz and perform his father’s crimes on him.
- Eyes are removed from a corpse and fed to cats.
- There are multiple references to famous serial killers.
- Gramma Dent often threatens people with a shotgun.
- Jazz imagines a character having a “Glock or Magnum” in their purse.
- Jazz’s grandmother smacks him multiple times.
- Billy Dent disjointed a corpse.
- Billy Dent is said to have raped and abused his victims as well as killed them.“He tormented them. Tortured them. Raped them and abused them.” More details are given later on when Billy Dent’s victim is described as “Sexually assaulted, invaded both vaginally and rectally.”
- Jazz imagines ripping out a character’s larynx.
- Jazz wonders why Billy has not been shanked in prison, as well as why he hasn’t committed suicide.
Drugs and Alcohol
- G. William is said to very rarely drink.
- Jazz gives his grandmother a “poor man’s sedative” so that he can go out without her arguing.
- Jazz also puts a “powerful tranquilizer” in his grandmother’s breakfast for a similar purpose.
- Jazz’s grandmother is sedated and held captive by the novel’s antagonist.
- Jazz “clambered down the fire escape like a monkey on crystal meth.”
- There is an immense amount of profanity including crap, Christ, God, Devil/Satan, Hell, idiot, moron, badass, douche, goddamn, demon, piss, whores, ho, bastard, ass, hellfire, jackass, smart-ass, butt, buttocks, damn, BS, pussy, titties, dick, bitch.
- When Jazz tells G. William that he had been spying on the crime scene at the beginning of the book, “G. William slammed a fist on the desk and swore.”
- A killer leaves behind his victim’s middle finger while taking other digits.
- Doug Weathers is called a “bottom-feeding moron.”
- Jazz and Howie say “bros before hos.”
- Gramma Dent uses the “hellfire o’ Jesus” as an exclamation.
- Jazz exclaims “Jesus!” at one point.
- Connie gasps “Oh my God.”
- Billy Dent is said to have “a real PhD in slinging high-grade horse manure.”
- Witchcraft and witches are mentioned as a part of the Salem Witch Trials that took place in The Crucible.
- G. William is said to have “catholic guilt.”
- The Devil/Satan, demons, Heaven, Christ, and God are mentioned as slurs, although not in actual religious contexts.
- Jazz describes faith as “being certain of something without any kind of evidence.”
- Howie says that he “deftly avoids the crushing throngs of heathens.”
- The Crucible is being performed by Jazz’s drama group, and he acts as a reverend in the play during the witch trials that were performed in Salem by the Puritans.
- A quote from The Crucible says “Theology, sir, is a fortress; no crack in a fortress may be accounted small.”
- A quote from The Crucible says “Man, remember, until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven.”
- Gramma Dent has a collection of “religious dogma.”
- Billy Dent says that “Cain slew Abel, all under God’s eye” as justification for his murders, specifically of Jasper’s dog Rusty.
- Jazz asks that “God bless Ginny Davis.”
- Billy Dent describes the sound of someone dying as “sacred an’ holy.”
- Gramma Dent cries out “Praise God!”
- Jasper’s grandmother recalls how she had “said all her Hail Marys” when she shifts into the persona of a young girl.
- Billy Dent claims he is the god of his victims.
- Jazz says Billy “had been a god” that he worshiped, although later states that Billy “had been a devil, not a god.”
- Billy sighs “as if asking the Good Lord.”
- A serial killer believes that Billy Dent, a serial killer, is a god, and that Jasper is a “child of divinity.”
by Dylan Chilcoat