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3 out of 4 stars
Review by AliceofX
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O’Callahan is an FBI agent who, alongside his ex-wife Lea who is an FBI profiler, are trying to stop Breedlove. He has a very odd relationship with his ex-wife. In the past they tried to maintain a long distance relationship while being assigned to different offices in different states, but it didn’t work. Now, despite being divorced, they still meet occasionally for romantic liaisons, and still dream of one day being truly together.
Parker, when he first appears in the story, seems like a minor side character. Due to limited FBI resources O’Callahan must seek outside help to develop a database of North American serial killers. Because of his interest in serial killers, Parker is the one selected for this task. Parker is one of the weirdest characters I’ve ever seen. He’s a student of computer science, a master hacker who can easily hack into FBI agents email accounts and manipulate their investigation. He’s also a member of the Church of Satan who doesn’t get even the simplest of pop culture references and common expressions. In short, I’ve never seen a weirder mishmash of traits. Parker very quickly goes to the dark side and joins Breedlove as his apprentice.
The final major character is another FBI agent by the name of Link who overtakes the investigation from O’Callahan. He treats everyone like crap and can’t say a single sentence without swearing. Link is a self-centered douche-bag of unimaginable proportions, and for the second half of the book he’s pretty much our villain as our main source of tension becomes FBI office politics. Which is all well and good in the beginning, but as the story goes on Link becomes cartoonish and unbelievable as a real person.
The problem I have with stories that have both the killer’s and detective’s perspective is that it’s usually used as a shortcut. If the detective has a hunch, or a gut feeling that’s not based in any evidence, then we all go along with it because we know he’s right and we don’t need to be convinced by proof. This is a big problem for Serial K. It first becomes apparent when Lea makes a profile of the killer that’s a dead-on description of Breedlove. From what little I’ve read on criminal profiling it seemed highly implausible to me. Then as the book goes on Lea is never, ever wrong about anything. Basically, psychology is turned into telepathy.
Then there’s the problem with O’Callahan, as in he doesn’t really do anything to solve the crimes. You could cut his part out entirely and the book wouldn’t suffer that much. His scenes are filled with his and Lea’s love life, them chasing Breedlove without getting any closer and descriptions of their meals. Whenever they eat something there’s a list of what exactly they ate. Not a meal goes by that’s not described in detail, but only for O’Callahan and Lea, so it really baffled me.
Also, I noticed nine errors in the book. One typo and two that had incorrect punctuation, such as, “in .Arizona at the time.” Three cases with a grammar error, such as, “He hands were,” and three where it’s only obvious from the context that the wrong word was used, such as, “Breedlove was able to read,” when it should have been Link.
With the bad out of the way, I actually liked a lot of things in this book. For one thing, Breedlove was an interesting character. He’s not merely a villain that’s hiding in the shadows, but you see behind the pride and arrogance of his twisted personality into the pathetic weakling that’s inside.
The biggest positive to me was that Serial K was one of those books that is hard to put down. At first, I was concerned that knowing what the killer was doing and thinking would take away the excitement, but it didn’t. The author maintained my attention all the way with the many twists and turns of the plot. Since the second book has already been published I think it’s no secret that Breedlove’s story doesn’t end with this book, and I think the series has a lot of potential.
I chose to read this book because I’ve always been interested in crime novels and stories about serial killers, but if I wasn’t I don’t think I could look past its plot errors. If you’re not already a fan of crime stories then I don’t know if this book will do much for you. Also, any potential reader should be warned that beyond (obviously) violence it also has plenty of adult content and language, with crass, juvenile humor. If you’re not okay with those things then you should not pick this book.
It was hard to choose a rating for Serial K. It has an equal amount of strengths and weaknesses, but in the end I went with how much I enjoyed reading it and gave the book 3 out of 4 stars.
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