Slaughter by John Lutz
Pros: Decent premise
Cons: that goes bad
Scattered. Dis-jointed. Horribly grotesque.
I’m talking about John Lutz’s Slaughter. A serial-killer novel that just didn’t work for me. This book is part of Lutz’s Frank Quinn series. As it’s the first such book I’ve read, I can’t speak to whether this book is typical of the series or not. All I know is, it was a flop.
A psychopath is terrorizing a city. Sometimes it’s a single act of murder. Other times it’s an act designed to maximize the number or casualties. But all of the scenes of have two things in common – a small man hanging around to view the damage for himself, and an ever-present theme of “taking something apart”. Sadly, most times, it’s the bodies of the deceased that are taken apart, dismembered, then grotesquely posed for the authorities to find.
Like I said, the city is in sheer terror.
All of this would be fine, as the premise of a serial-killer thriller. After all, these books are supposed to have evil perps running around like they own the town.
But this book has some problems.
First the writing style. Bouncing back and forth between the past and the present is fine. In fact, it’s a technique I enjoy. I liked that we got a glimpse of our bad guy from the past. Helping us understand how he got that way. However there were several times where the action jumps, and left be confused as to what I was reading. Past? Present? It wasn’t always clear. Possibly because there were so many characters introduced with small roles that it was hard to keep them all straight. In fact, there’s a character who appears at the end, who I know was introduced earlier in the book but I’m hard-pressed to remember how and why.
Then there was the “out of nowhere” clue that was uncovered. When I say “out of nowhere” I mean it. I went back to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. Nope, I didn’t. It’s just that Lutz threw us a major curveball. Twists and surprises are fine, but they should come with a neat “ah-ha!” moment – where you remember something from earlier that ties in and makes sense.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t warn about the grotesque violence in this Slaughter. Granted, with a name like that, you’d expect some violence. But this book goes above and beyond in that regard.
2 thumbs down for Slaughter.