Book talk: Hunter by Jack Heath


This week Jeff Popple reviews an exciting new book by renowned Canberra author, Hunter by Jack Heath. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog

Hunter by Jack Heath

Allen & Unwin, $29.99.

Canberra young adult author Jack Heath made a spectacular entry into adult fiction last year with his first crime novel, Hangman. He has now followed it up with a gripping sequel in the form of Hunter.

Timothy Blake’s tortured childhood has left him with a raft of psychological issues and anti-social behaviours, and a disturbing taste for human flesh. Despite his flaws, he is a genius at solving crimes, and was the FBI’s last resort when they had particularly difficult and horrendous cases. He has now left that behind and works in the body-disposal business for a local Houston crime lord. He is getting by, until he stumbles across a body he was not supposed to find and has to hide it in his freezer. Forced once again to help the FBI with the search for a serial killer, Blake desperately tries to keep one step ahead of the police and his gangster boss, while trying to catch a killer who is even more dangerous than him.

This compelling thriller opens at a brisk and grisly pace and keeps the reader engaged as it veers down some dark and disturbing paths. The plotting is clever, and Heath ably steers it through some good twists and turns to a bloody conclusion on the outskirts of Houston. Central to the story is the character of Blake, who is a darker version of TV’s Dexter, and Heath does a good job in maintaining the reader’s interest in his twisted character’s fate, without softening his gruesome edges.

Underneath the gore, Heath is a fine writer with a good eye for interesting locations and a deft hand at characterisation. Also adding to the enjoyment are the clever brain teasers at the beginning of each chapter.

Some aspects of the novel strain credibility, but overall this is a very enjoyable and disturbing thriller.

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