A predator whose past hides a terrible secret,
whose desire to hurt people and thirst for murder can never be quenched
-- for he is DEATH...
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book Links: Goodreads
I should stop being surprised at the fact that Chris Carter can surprise me...
Don't I learn? I Am Death begins with what one would call a pretty standard start. I'm not ashamed to admit I was a little underwhelmed; overall, I thought, okay, so far, so good, but nothing the author hasn't done or shown us before. Blasphemy! The plot is a deceptive weasel that pounces along with silent giggles.
You think you have me pegged, it'll say. It's not a question, it's a fact.
Don't fall for it, readers! Carter will have you! There is depravity, barbarity, sheer and impenetrable darkness; then there are twists that snap together so fast you'll have just a tinge of whiplash.
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
When the body of woman shows up, her limbs manipulated into strange positions, Detectives Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia are shot through with fear of a ritualistic killer.
Reality has something far more despicable in store.
A note taken from the woman's throat bears only three words:
I AM DEATH.
And as Hunter digs deeper into the mystery, morality becomes a heavy burden.
Especially when the cold, hard fact that the murder, and all future ones, could have been avoided comes to light...
Plot - 5/5 Stars
Sheesh! Way to build a puzzle of pure perplexity only to tie it up tight with calculated confidence.
While I Am Death has a solid, if not too surprising, start, it rockets forward with chaotic accuracy. Carter assembles the jigsaw-like pieces and scatters them, and as the cast and reader progress, and those pieces audibly click together, you're left staring at the jaw-dropping twists and heartbreaking truths.
We pick up only hours/days after An Evil Mind (the boys have their work cut out for them, poor fellows; that's three serial killers in almost as many months) to an adequate and pulse-pounding few opening scenes that don't fail to chill you to the bone. Yep, there's a new crazy in the City of Angels, and he could be the most enigmatic and intelligent of them all.
Oh, and completely and utterly shot in the sanity department, let's not forget that, and don't think for a second the killer doesn't have a good reason (I use reason loosely, because you know, killing, biiiig no-no).
We also move back to more familiar ground. I Am Death's predecessor, An Evil Mind, sets the bar high with its in-depth look at a serial murderer's mentality. It has a slower pace, but a laser-sharp focus on tales of barbarity, while this entry returns to the speedier, more forceful tales of barbarity Carter employs with the rest of the series.
We follow two predominant viewpoints: Hunter's, and an eleven-year-old boy's, whose name is Richard Temple. Temple has been abducted and forced to watch as 'The Monster' kills with extreme brutality. He is also on the receiving end of that anger. Carter plays it coy, he convinces, well, it's implied, that both plots are happening concurrently, that Hunter is hunting 'The Monster'.
Ha! That's almost all I have to say. Carter, you got me. In reality, as our cast dive around down pointless avenues, the thread with Richard is not a present story, but the origins of the present killer! Ho, boy. You do not see it coming, at all, the cleverness and ingenuity within I Am Death continues the tantalising trend the author has got nailed.
The history of little Ricky Temple is beyond anything you've experienced...
Pace - 4.5/5 Stars
Coming from An Evil Mind's more contemplative pace, I Am Death sucks you in and spits you out faster than you can blink. The beginning is a little harrowing, not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but if you're a thriller buff like I am, then persevere. Please! You will be rewarded as the story picks up and the pace kicks into a more stomach-churning gear.
Characters - 5/5 Stars
Hunter: Still as compelling and genius as ever. Calculating demeanour, but a heart of pure, unshakable gold.
Garcia: Is back! Carter you almost had me with his 'fake departure', almost. Still compliments Hunter well; he's definitely left Hunter's shadow and feels more whole.
There are others, all riveting in their roles, but the real juice (blood?) comes in the form of this entry's psychopath. Carter, with his background and experience in criminal psychology (he's like the real-life Hunter), has always done a remarkable job of manipulating morality and playing with the nature-vs-nurture argument. He delves deep when it comes to his killers, and they're never black and white. Instead of being good or bad, the author creates a spectrum.
We've met many a fictional villain throughout this series; such as the ones that kill because they feel compelled to, that there's no other choice. This time round Carter ensures the reader understands that the murders are a choice, regardless of the history and motivations involved. The bad guy doesn't need to kill, he wants to.
But the common threads woven between the types of people share uncanny similarities to reality. And scare the pants of you because you're always left with one startling clarity: Anyone could be a killer, be it a flaw, or through choice. Circumstances, people.
Writing - 5/5 Stars
Written, structured and built perfectly. Carter has a strong and solid prose that depicts his imagination like he's beaming it into your mind.
Overall - 5/5 Stars
I'm a little sad I'm all currently caught up now.
Write more and keep setting that bar high, Mr Carter, please?
Previous Instalment: An Evil Mind
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