Title: The Night Stalker
Author: Chris Carter
Publication date: 1 March 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: 453 pages
Age group: Adult
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Buy it: Amazon | The Book Depository
In a nutshell
When an unidentified female body is discovered laid out on a slab in an abandoned butcher’s shop, the cause of death is unclear. Her body bares no marks; except for the fact that her lips have been carefully stitched shut.
It is only when the full autopsy gets underway at the Los Angeles County morgue that the pathologist will reveal the true horror of the situation – a discovery so devastating that Detective Robert Hunter of the Los Angeles Homicide Special Section has to be pulled off a different case to take over the investigation.
But when his inquiry collides with a missing persons’ case being investigated by the razor-sharp Whitney Meyers, Hunter suspects the killer might be keeping several women hostage. Soon Robert finds himself on the hunt for a murderer with a warped obsession, a stalker for whom love has become hate.
I loved this book for so many different reasons, I don’t even know where to start. I literally haven’t been this excited about discovering a new (to me) author or series since S.J. Bolton’s Now You See Me. Technically it’s the third book in the Robert Hunter series but I haven’t read the first two and I didn’t feel as if I was missing something. They can all be read as standalone novels, so even if you haven’t read any of Carter’s books you should be fine.
Before I even talk about the writing itself, I have to say that one of the things I loved about the book is that it has pretty short chapters. I hate having to stop halfway through a chapter before going to bed or going out (and I know I’m not the only one), so short chapters are always an added bonus. Also, I love how every chapter ends with a cliffhanger of some sort. It’s such a clever idea. You know how we all tend to say “all right, just one more chapter and I’m going to bed”? Well ladies and gentlemen, I can assure you that in this case, you’re not going anywhere. You’ll be glued to the book until 1 am and nursing a book hangover the following day.
But of course short chapters only don’t make for a good story. You need a killer plot, great characters and – ideally – a good writing style. The Night Stalker ticks all three boxes. There’s never a dull moment in the plot so if you’re looking for something that keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way to (literally) the very last page, this one will be right up your street. Having worked as a criminal psychologist himself, Carter knows what he’s talking about and it’s no wonder why he managed to create such a realistic killer and give such detailed and realistic description of these crimes.
It’s not a character-driven book, however, so if you prefer lengthy descriptions of the characters’ past then it might be a bit of a disappointment for you. I’m not sure how much information is revealed in the first two books but while Carter briefly mentions a few incidents and traumas from Hunter’s childhood, his main focus is on action and the ongoing investigation itself. Which was perfectly fine for me, but I know it might not work for everyone. Another thing I have to warn you about is that it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. If you prefer cozy mysteries set in quaint little villages and don’t like anything with a bit of (okay, a great deal) gore and violence then you may want to give it a miss. Even though there is a logical explanation for the killer’s behaviour and we get to know his background story which explains why he’s doing what he’s doing, he’s still extremely sadistic and again, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
It was my cup of tea, however. I loved it from the very first page and as much as the story freaked me out at times, I didn’t want it to end. Without a doubt it’s the creepiest, most adrenaline-fuelled series I’ve discovered this year and one I’m not likely to forget anytime soon. Chris Carter has become one of my newest favourite authors and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. Brilliant writing, highly recommended!