I confess, I’m a bad reader. I started on books three to six in the Robert Hunter series before coming to where it all began (The Crucifix Killer) but of course, due to Chris Carter’s brilliant plotting skills, my knowledge of Robert’s future didn’t matter much.
The foremost thing that I enjoy the most from Chris Carter is the gore—the nitty, gritty details he includes in the horrendous crimes the criminals in the Robert Hunter series execute. The second thing I enjoy the most is that you can start with any book in the Robert Hunter series and your reading journey will barely be affected—unless you read the entire series chronologically backwards, of course. I see that there are certainly improvements from The Crucifix Killer to An Evil Mind (keeping The Executioner out of this because I’ve yet to read it).
However, I won’t say that Carter is the next Stephen King. Why? Because I’ve yet to read a single Stephen King book and Robert Hunter appears to very much be a Gary Stu—not that I actually hate Robert in any way. Every time I read a book with Robert Hunter in it, I’m entranced. I’m pulled into his world and I’m always rooting for him, but after that? After that, I realise how much of an OP (over-powered) character he is. I’m certain a lot of you realised this already but the main character definitely can’t die in any book—save perhaps the last one—because without the lead actor, how will the stage go on, right? Well, Robert here isn’t only a prodigy, he’s good looking and has a rather charming personality as well. Yawn.
Now that I’m leaning towards a more analytical type of reading, I’ve also realised that Carter’s writing is rather clinical. There’s a lot of telling, not enough showing, and to top that off, in The Crucifix Killer, it’s as though he was showing off his knowledge of Criminal Psychology. Sure, the definitions and all gave me a better insight on why/how so and so occurred but had he worded those sentences in different ways, it would’ve sounded less like the lectures I force myself to sit through in university (Monotonous/Always-Going-Off-Topic lecturers anyone?). Furthermore, there was little character development in this book—little character development in the entire series if I recall the stories well enough.
It doesn’t help this book that there were quite a number of bad dialogue and inconsistent speech types included. For example, can anyone picture Robert Hunter saying, “I’m sorry about that. I had a bad hair day” at one moment but “Get her some flowers on the way home. Not some cheap bouquet, something nice…” at another? It’s like he went from super formal essay mode to ‘this is how I normally talk, ya’ll’ mode. Moreover, despite the situation Robert was in, I can’t picture him saying, “I’m sorry about that.” “Sorry about that”, yes but the more formal version didn’t sit well with my conception of who Robert Hunter is as a character.
Another thing I didn’t like about this book is the implementation of Isabella’s presence. I get the usual law enforcers (or just about everyone, maybe) wanting their personal lives to be different from their work ones, but for Robert to be stressed out at one moment to smiling like a teenage boy about some pretty girl the next? Nope, not a smooth transition at all.
As a budding fan of the crime and thriller genres, I’m biased because Carter is so far, the only crime/thriller writer who doesn’t fail in making me not put his books down. As an English with Creative Writing student, I’m dismayed to say that this book isn’t great. It’s merely average—maybe a little below average if not for the brilliant ideas Carter has. If you have to read this book, don’t read it with high expectations for the writing department.