Violent and sadistic.
I Am Death
Simon & Schuster Australia
Simon & Schuster UK
AN EVIL MIND was Chris Carters’s most acclaimed novel to date, described by the Daily mail as: ‘A chilling, compulsive portrait of a psychopath, and proves that Carter is now in the Jeffrey Deaver class.’ It spent three weeks in the Sunday Times top ten and received brillant reviews and sales.
This terrifying new standalone thriller reunites Hunter and Garcia in their most explosive case to date.
There has been much fanfare surrounding the books written by this author and so I thought I had better check this one out (this book is part of the Hunter and Garcia series but is touted as a standalone read). With a bit of trepidation I started reading (I had heard/read that this author’s work is extremely violent), rumour was not wrong! I have read Pierre LaMaitre’s Camille Verhœven series and thought the violence here, was, at times extreme – however the characters were likable, the writing superb and I was able to empathise with the Commandant – his personal pain and grief and empathy for the victims of the crimes.
This was not my experience with I am Death. I found Hunter and Garcia bland and one dimensional, I did not connect at all with the protagonists and didn’t feel that these two cops had much of a personal connection either; the attempt at humour in the first few chapters did not work for Hunter and likewise did not work me either; as a device it failed to show any real rapport between the two cops. The humour feel flat and felt stilted and staged – the opposite of the affect the writer was intending. As I continued on I really did not warm to any of the characters; we knew very little about the victims, mostly superficial information and although their deaths by torture were vile, they did not affect me as they should have; once they were in the hands of the villain we heard little more from them except the details of their horrific wounds and violent deaths. A part of me is pleased that no more details were forth coming, details were “told “ not “shown” their death had little impact on me, their lives as their deaths, had little impact on me and Hunter and Garcia remained as they first appeared; bland and did not connect with me as a reader at all. I think you do need to read the earlier books in the series to connect and invest yourself in the books, to perhaps grow to like Hunter and Garcia, to get to know them and share their experiences, feel some empathy…
But my main concern with this book was the level of what I experienced as gratuitous violence – fodder for the violence seeking voyeur. The details were beyond grim and sadistic – without giving away too much detail – murder by an electric disc sander (with a deliberate choice of “low grade” disc – so that more than one disc was needed and therefore the pain dragged out, the torture excruciating, before death was realised), grinding off the victims face was extreme and just one example of the horror that lies within.
Lastly I felt that the author did not “show” me the narrative, he spent too much time “telling” me the book. ‘While “telling” can be useful, even necessary, most people don’t realize how vital “showing” is to an effective story…. Showing allows the reader to follow the author into the moment, to see and feel and experience what the author has experienced. Using the proper balance of showing and telling will make your writing more interesting and effective.’ http://www.dailywritingtips.com/show-dont-tell/ I whole heartedly agree with this sentiment, the imbalance in style here left me with a “disconnect” that I could not shift. And I realised who the murderer actually was, not his alias, but his real identity.
Sadly, this not a book or author for me but maybe for you.
Not like Joe & Ruiz then in a Robotham book. Good review Carol, thanks for that.
Not at all Lily like Joe & Ruiz- there must be a new Robotham out soon? Wishful thinking. The new Michael Connelly however is also very good.
Sorry to hear that this one was a disappointment, Carol. To be honest, it’s not my sort of book at all. I’ll probably give it a miss, but I do appreciate your thoughtful and well-written, candid review.
Thanks you Margot – after hearing so much about this author I thought I should at least sample the writing…curiosity has been satisfied.