Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Book Links: Goodreads
Damn it, Chris Carter, you're killing me!
Don't you just love an author whose books just get better, and better, and better? Well, The Death Sculptor, the fourth entry in the Robert Hunter series, is beyond top quality. It laughs at its predecessor just as its predecessor laughs at its own. My heart is still pounding! Already I'm thinking, how the hell is he going to beat that?
The Death Sculptor is another serial-killer obsessed story that happily, and quite grotesquely, puts the reader in yet another moral quandary. It's sharp, clever and is definitely guaranteed to give you vivid nightmares of epically dark proportions.
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
When the body of a butchered man turns up, Detective Robert Hunter is called.
He's the go-to guy for violent, depraved cases, so he expects the worst.
But even that's not good enough.
What he finds beggars belief: A terminally ill man dismembered, only the killer used the parts to create a chilling sculpture that doesn't make much sense.
One thing's for sure, though.
There will be more deaths.
And more meat puzzles for Hunter to solve...
Plot - 5/5 Stars
I was initially a little worried, I will admit. Sometimes in a series, no matter how glorious the previous entries are, we always face a dud. And I thought The Death Sculptor might be it. I agree, bad me! I didn't expect it to be bad, just predictable, especially when you're an avid crime reader like me. Boy, am I so glad to be so wrong! Chris Carter continues to blow my freaking mind in the most dark and visceral ways possible.
We're thrown in without a second thought as the first body shows up in all its disgusting dignity. Without fail the author creates such horror-filled scenes with immense amounts of imagination. If the dismembered victim isn't enough to turn your stomach and set the perfect tone, the mound of tied and glued together pieces of said victim will.
The investigation then proceeds with an intuitive puzzle. The sculpture contains a message, or more accurately, they are as Garcia states: Riddles within riddles...
Yep, the sculpture means nothing, until a bright light is shone on it at the right angle. Then, there is a shadow-puppet riddle to figure out. And it all comes together with a whoosh of adrenaline. Just when you think the author's gone on too many tangents, everything starts to click into place with the sound (only in your head) of hallelujahs.
The Death Sculptor is also a dedicated detective novel, keeping the reader involved and engaged with such proficiency that the real world falls away.
Then, we get to the anticipated ending where the dots connect, and boy, do they connect! The twist is shocking, and the motivation is something that'll test your morality for hours, and days, and weeks, to come. There's a pleasant slasher-flick feel to the plot, and it does, of course, wonders.
Pace - 5/5 Stars
Fast, fast, fast!
Even the exposition, with Robert Hunter and co at the helm, is a fast-paced bonanza. Nothing is wasted. I flew, and flew, and flew through this book like a bat out of hell.
Characters - 5/5 Stars
One thing I have to thank Mr Carter for is the fact he doesn't use a plethora of sidekicks. To clarify, there are a lot of thriller series that have revolving cast members galore, that don't grow or change, just fit their roles and pop up every now and again. There are of course characters within The Death Sculptor that do fit this mold, but Carter spends far more time building and layering his core cast.
I don't know how many reviews I've done where I've stated that the main character is my favourite. It has to be a lot. My favourite list probably contains the majority of protagonists I've read.
I am not ashamed!
Robert Hunter, is by far one of the best (see, I can't help myself, all my faves can be joint #1). A genius, a fantastic detective, and ruggedly handsome, what's not to like? I won't get too gushy, but I do notice something in this entry that seems more focused. And by that I mean I've had this feeling before, it just hasn't made it to the review. Hunter has a gift with conversation. His psychology background shows as he expertly manoeuvres interviews and discussions. He gives nothing away that he doesn't want to, and can take anything without losing his cool. His silences can break people!
Garcia's still predominantly used as an elaboration tool. As the people around him reach revelations and decipher pieces of cryptic information, Garcia is the man who instigates putting it into layman's terms. But, as Hunter's partner, he does compliment his friend well. Garcia has a lightness that Hunter doesn't; he's quicker to a joke, quicker to express emotion.
There's also the scary introduction of Alice Beaumont, an outsider! She's a DA investigator contracted out to help Hunter and Garcia, and she's a surprisingly stellar addition. She slots in so goddamn perfectly. Confident and capable, Alice embraces her strengths and weaknesses without pride or regret.
And the killer! Whoa... Gag reflex alert! Each time a new serial murderer is introduced, I always think that Hunter has to have met his match. In The Death Sculptor, Hunter has to have met his match!
Oh, so many great characters, so little time...
Writing - 5/5 Stars
Another aspect you just can't expect to get any better, but as the instalments go by, Carter perfects and perfects and perfects. His descriptions and scenes are unrivalled in their visualisations.
Overall - 5/5 Stars
You have no idea how happy I am to have jumped back into this series.
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