"When a brutal felon on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list turns up dead in Los Angeles County, few mourn him; in fact, the public begins to cheer his unknown assailants as heroes. But as more brutalized corpses of fugitive outlaws are found, Sheriff's Homicide Detective Alex Brandon knows that the vigilante group the public has nicknamed "The Exterminators" may be far more ruthless and sadistic than its victims." "The corpses bear eerie similarities to victims of a serial killer investigated by Brandon ten years ago. The perpetator died at the hands of his own deeply traumatized teenaged stepson, Kit Logan. Logan, protected by his wealthy family, never spent a day in jail; instead, he was sent to a private reform school for the truant sons of L.A.'s most affluent. Alex Brandon, unable to locate Logan for questioning, has a chilling sense he is being manipulated. But why?"--BOOK JACKET.
This is a standalone book for Jan Burke, better known for the “Irene Kelly” series. I was really looking forward to reading this, but admit being a bit disappointed. This is a fine novel, fully of vivid characterizations and her usual engrossing prose. There is only two small points that detracted from the story. First of all, the storyline itself demands that you suspend your disbelief. Hardened criminals wanted by every law enforcement agency in the U.S. are easily tracked down, caught and killed by these, well -- bored, rich and self-indulgent guys with no apparent previous experience in catching fugitives.
The second problem is the author reveals the villains early in the book. I know some writers want to examine either the villains’ personalities or their motivations. However, the villains in this particular novel are only two-dimensional, and their motivations never really become clear. Worst, the time spent on these caricatures take away from time that could have been spent with the “good guys”. I wanted to read more about the truly multidimensional, intriguing and very human heroes of the story.
There is Alex, who as a child found his father’s body after a suicide. His family is taken in by his Uncle John, who becomes a driving force in his life. Alex’s wife ends up leaving him for another man – his own brother, and now years later he tries to resist getting involved with a troubled nephew he's never met.
Then there is Kit, whose childhood reads like a nightmare, and who only found salvation after murdering his own stepfather and going to live with a loving grandmother. Kit believes in luck, and keeps a rabbits foot close at all times, fills his pockets with charms, and uses lucky numbers to try to ward off the evil that threatens him. His courage and fragility captured my heart.
There is a host of other great characters, whose stories were shortchanged by the emphasis on exploring the personalities of the simple, psychotic villains. However, since this is Jan Burke we’re talking about, I could still hardly put the book down, and I wouldn’t want to dissuade anyone from reading it.
Review: This is a bit chilling, particularly since it involves students in a private school. The ending was okay, but fell a bit flat.