Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Hunter

John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author of twenty-two novels has unleashed another mystery thriller; in this his latest novel The Hunter, in which Lescroart takes his readers on a surprising unplanned journey filled with a multitude of twist and turns. The storyline concept is rather interesting -A young wife and mother is brutally murdered in her Bay Area apartment - 40 years later, Private Investigator Wyatt Hunt receives an anonymous text, asking him "Do you know how your mother die?" The texter insist that the murderer is still out there, and is willing to give Hunt clues as to the identity of murderer – but refuses to identify themselves. Also interesting is, the way Lescroart weaves fact with fiction by revisiting the massacre at Jonestown – the cult led by Jim Jones in 1978 where over 900 people died in a mass suicide – the majority of whom were forcibly made to ingest  cyanide  laced Kool-aid.

One can appreciate how Lescroart manages to grab the reader's attention in the first chapter with that short simple text message from an anonymous and untraceable number "How did your mother die?" a question that leads Wyatt and his Hunt Club investigative team on a journey to unravel the mystery of his biological mother's death.

The cold case heats up when Ivan Orloff, Hunt’s newest investigator, gets killed after making seemingly routine inquiries. A relentless search for the killer ensues. The trail of clues continue to twist and turn as they lead from Evie Secrist, Margaret’s best friend, back to the Jonestown mass suicide more than a generation ago, and forward to Evie’s ex-husband Lionel Spencer. However, the trail is infuriatingly cut short, with Spencer’s own death - which is hurriedly written off as a suicide, and the murder mysteries are wrapped up with a neat case-closed-little-bow.

Willing to concede that his mother’s murderer had taken his own life, Wyatt backs off the investigation – until the texter signals him again, to let him know that the killer is not dead. Wyatt finally comes face to face with his anonymous informant, in an attention-grabbing scene. Question is, will the meeting be Wyatt’s last, or will it finally provide a resolution, or will his mother's 40-year old murder continue to remain a mystery?

It is obvious that Lescroart is educated, well-read, and put a tremendous amount of time into his work. However, the multitude of inconsequential characters that the reader has to keep track of as they crawl throughout the story, tend to diminish an otherwise interesting storyline. Furthermore, if at least ninety of those needless pages had been red-lined, The Hunter would have been an even more enjoyable read that moved more effortlessly to conclusion.

Still, Lescroart has crafted a well written book that is a multi-layered mystery that will keep readers guessing, intrigued, and at times frustrated.

Review copy provided by publisher.

The Hunter by John Lescroart
Genre: Mystery - Thriller
Publisher: Dutton/Penguin Group
Publication Date: January 2012
Reviewed by Chrystal Dorsey

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