In a derelict cottage in Los Angeles National Forest, a young woman is found savagely murdered. Naked, strung from two wooden posts, the skin has been ripped from her face – while she was alive. On the nape of her neck is carved a strange double-cross: the signature of a psychopath known as the Crucifix Killer.
But that’s not possible. Because, two years ago, the Crucifix Killer was caught and executed.
Could this be the work of a copycat killer? Someone who has somehow accessed intricate details of the earlier murders – details that were never made public? Or is Homicide Detective Robert Hunter forced to face the unthinkable? Is the real Crucifix Killer still out there, ready to embark once again on a vicious killing spree, selecting his victims seemingly at random, taunting Hunter with his inability to catch him?
Robert Hunter and his rookie partner are about to enter a nightmare beyond imagining, where there's no such thing as a quick death.
My Review Under the cut:
I was able to read The Crucifix Killer, by Chris Carter, in 2 days easily. The books goes quickly, and he has a habit of leaving things hanging on the end of a chapter so you want to keep reading. That said, I had quick a few bones to pick with it.
Firstly, there were some minor things. In a scene where two characters are at an In N Out Burger, a waitress comes up and asks if she can get them anything. I don't know anything about In N Out Burgers, but it sounded like a fast food joint, so this sounded weird to me. If Carter wanted a waitress to be involved that badly, I feel like he should have either described the In N Out Burger a bit better, or placed this scene in a local diner or something instead. Another restaraunt bone to pick was where Detective Hunter walks into an Italian restaraunt to meet a date. He states that it smells like provolone, braseola, and salami. I lived in the Little Italy of Endicott, NY for 2 years, 1 year being spent in an apartment right over my little old Italian landlady, and I lived nearby for 22 years before that. I've been to my fair share of authentic family Itailian restaraunts. And they do not smell like provolone, braseola and salami (I'm not even sure what Braseola is actually). They smell like pizza. Even if pizza isn't their main attraction, the restaurant still smells like pizza when you walk in. My husband agreed with me. An Italian deli might smell like provolone, braseola and salami, but not a family restaurant.
Most of my other issues with the book were character issues. Such as D-King's use of "nigga". He is a high class pimp, but treats his ladies well, protects them, and he speaks very intelligently...except when "nigga" comes out of his mouth. He's a black guy with good grammar and a moderate vocabulary, and he still uses "nigga"? Is this only because he's black?
George, the Killer's second victim...he lives this double life that his wife is unaware of- he's got a male lover. But the thing is, he comes to LA from Alabama for a job, has a couple good cases, and is invited to crazy sex parties where he becomes bisexual. Ok, I guess that could be believeable, but the way this whole little history comes out, it sounded to me as if he has gay sex for the first time at the first sex party he goes to. That type of experience would be hard for someone who has never done it before with random people he doesn't know. Woudln't he gets his feet wet a bit, get comfortable, and then maybe plunge in? I'm not saying that Carter writes that he does become bisexual at his first "extreme party" experience, but the writing was so I couldn't exactly tell for sure, and it just hit me strangely.
Garcia, Hunter's rookie partner, is supposed to be a good detective. It usually takes someone 6 years to get into the homicide department, but it only takes Garcia 2 years. So this guy is supposed to be pretty smart and pretty observant, and a good detective, right? Then why is he always asking Hunter dumb questions? I understand him not knowing the particulars of the crucifix killer case from 2 years before, because not much of that was released to the media/public, but when it comes to the cases at hand, he still seems to asks questions that I would guess an intelligent, observant, detective would be able to deduce on his own. I'm sure the reason for this is to make sure to spell things out to the reader (since the reader wouldn't necessarily make the connections or deductions), and partly to make Hunter sound over the top intelligent compared to Garcia. But if it must be done this way, I'd prefer Garcia not to be touted as such a good detective that he got into Homicide in only 2 years.
When the Killer goes after Garcia, yes, Hunter rescues him, and does save him. But why didn't the Killer mark him with the crucifix? One might say maybe the killer meant for Hunter to save him, which is possible, but its one of the few loose ends that is not conclusively explained by the end. And I want to know!
My biggest issue with people is Jenny. I like Jenny, even though she's a prostitute. I'm upset when she's abducted. But how could she have possibly been so stupid?? She seems smart, but she puts her drink down and then picks it back up later and drinks from it. Sure, she didn't really leave it, but she was distracted. She wasnt holding it or watching it. She kind of deserved to be drugged. And, it's not realistic. You won't be able to convince me that she's been in LA for 6 years, and that she's been a prostitute for 3 years and that she'd make such a stupid mistake. Isn't that like rule number one in prostitute/clubbing 101- not to put down your drink and then pick it up and drink from it again? I'm surprised Jenny lasted 6 years in LA. I know better than that and I don't think I've ever even been to a club, and only to a handful of bars in my life!
Another slight issue that was bugging me the whole book: How'd the killer get Hunter's cell number? I would understand if the Killer only called him after he started getting close to Isabella, because then she would have had the number, but the killer was calling him to tell him where the bodies were a couple years before that. Being a detective, I'd imagine he'd keep himself unlisted in case people had a bone to pick with him. So where'd the killer get the number?
Now that I have those things out of the way, the plot was pretty good. I'm not typically one for this genre, but it kept me reading and I enjoyed the conversation between the characters definitely. Aside from the above mentioned issues, I liked Carter's characters, and I liked their interactions. There were several places where the witty banter made me laugh, which was a nice contrast to the blood and gore. It did bother me that as the reader, you're not given the crucial last bit of information until everything is over and Hunter is explaining it to Garcia. This kept the reader from being able to really beat the detective, which I like to be able to do when reading these types of books. That said, I still had Isabella pinned as the killer the moment she got to lunch with Hunter. I was thrown off by the killer calling during the meal, but figured there was a way around things to still make it her. I thought it was a bit sloppy the way Carter had Hunter and Garcia say how thorough and clean the killer was, and how the killings pointed to a surgeon/someone with a lot of medical knowledge, and then Hunter guesses Isabella's job just by the fact that she has powder from medical gloves on her cuticles and a depression on her wrist from gloves and he never puts 2 and 2 together? Carter tries to throw you off by Hunter saying that the vast majority of serial killers are men and explaining why to Garcia, (and also having a man abduct Jenny and Becky) but the voice on the phone is "robotic" which immediately made me think it could possibly be a woman.
Overall, a pretty good read, but sloppy in a few places. I was pleasantly surprised by a few things, such as the second storyline with the killings not done by the Crucifix Killer. The plot was fast paced, the main characters likeable. But I still wish Jenny was a more appropriate level of street smart for her lifestyle, and I still want to know how the killer got Hunter's number! From 1-5, I think I'd given this a 3.5.