It’s a Mystery: Urge to Kill, by John Lutz

The Hunters

Urge To Kill (Frank Quinn, #4)
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A savage murderer preys on young women, first romancing, then butchering them. That same summer, someone begins targeting men, gunning them down with .25 caliber weapons. Could these two seemingly different rampages be the work of a single serial killer? Veteran homicide team Frank Quinn, Pearl Kasner, and Larry Fedderman slowly but doggedly pick up a clue here, a thread there, but no clear picture emerges until, gradually, Quinn realizes that the killer that he is hunting is now hunting him.

What a compelling idea for a crime novel. But what should have been a taut, tightly structured thriller becomes bogged down in redundancy. Talk about padding; cookie cutter sex scenes and stomach turning crime scenes materialize with unvarying regularity, sometimes nearly word for word. As a result, what could have been an edge of the seat reading experience becomes merely OK. Not having read anything else written by John Lutz, I don’t know if this sort of “overkill” is typical for him. It was surprising because, in the rest of the book, he did such a good job with the personalities of his characters, particularly in an ongoing, Seinfeld-like situation in which Pearl obsesses over a health issue. On the other hand, a few of them were rather cardboard, such as the profiler, and the psychoanalyst with whom Quinn becomes involved.

Overall, Urge to Kill is an uneven production. Readers who enjoy lots of gruesome detail may not find it so, but those looking for carefully controlled psychological suspense may be disappointed.

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