Monday, 19 August 2013

"One by One," by Chris Carter

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Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. used to confuse Chris Carter the crime author with Chris Carter, originator of "The X-Files," which I am sure that I am not alone in doing.  This Chris Carter, however, comes from a position of some experience in crime as, according to the biographical blurb, he was a criminal psychologist who "has worked over 100 cases involving serial killers, murderers and dangerous offenders."  Like Kathy Reichs, pathologist turned author - whose books I also enjoy - he has now turned his professional expertise to his creative advantage.

Chris Carter's heroes are Detective Robert Hunter and his partner, Detective Carlos Garcia, who work for the LAPD's Homicide Special Section.  Carter doesn't prevaricate in opening his novel, jumping straight in with the intrigue when Hunter receives a mysterious phone call which instructs him to log onto a particular internet address - on doing so, he sees footage of a terrified man who is being held captive.  It becomes clear that Hunter has an integral part to play in the killer's machinations.... but why and to what end?

"One by One" is Chris Carter's fifth novel, but this is the first by him which I have read (so I am coming to the series a little bit late).  I normally try to read series in order - something I can be rather obsessive about - so it is unusual for me to jump in during a series.  However, with this novel, I didn't feel disadvantaged by not having read the earlier books featuring Robert Hunter; this works effectively as standalone novel if you don't feel inclined to read the previous books first, although there is always the possibility that you gain more in character development if you follow a series through from the start. 

I felt that this novel is strongly plotted and inventively gruesome.  Carter has effectively managed the thriller writers' trick of writing short, snappy chapters which end on a teasing nugget of revelation that is only fully revealed in the next chapter (hence you can't put it down).  I found it to be an addictive read which holds up well when compared to other similar writers in the field (like Jeffery Deaver, whose books I also enjoy).  Although I doubt that I will keep hold of my copy (limited bookshelf space and all that), instead passing it on to other keen readers, I might be tempted to return to the world of Robert Hunter and read other Chris Carter novels in the future....

"One by One" was published on the 15th August, and I am grateful to Simon and Schuster for sending me a review copy so that I could start to read it a bit early.