Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: The Hunter by John Lescroart

The Hunter (Hunt Club Mystery #4)
by John Lescroart
Release Date: January 3rd, 2012
2012 Dutton Books
Hardcover Edition; 381 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-525-95256-5
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Raised by loving adoptive parents, San Francisco private investigator Wyatt Hunt never had an interest in finding his birth family-until he gets a chilling text message from an unknown number: "How did ur mother die?"

The answer is murder, and urged on by curiosity and the mysterious texter, Hunt takes on a case he never knew existed, one that has lain unsolved for decades. His family's dark past unfurls in dead ends. Child Protective Services, who suspected but could never prove that Hunt was being neglected, is uninformed; his birth father, twice tried but never convicted of the murder, is in hiding; Evie, his mother's drug-addicted religious fanatic of a friend, is untraceable. And who is the texter, and how are they connected to Hunt?

Yet in the present, time is running out. The texter, who insists the killer is out there, refuses to be identified. The cat-and-mouse game leads Hunt across the country and eventually to places far more exotic-and far more dangerous. As the chase escalates, so does the threat, for the killer has a secret that can only be trusted to the grave.

My Thoughts
The Hunter was an interesting study on the psychological toll it takes on the human psyche when one suddenly discovers your mother has been murdered and your father had been the prime suspect many years ago, and repressed memories start coming to the fore tearing your life apart.  While Wyatt Hunt grew up in a loving home, having been adopted at the age of six, he never truly learned to deal with the trauma of witnessing his mother's death and being shunted from foster home to foster home.  As he hunts for his mother's killer, years of remaining in control defeat him, and not only is he dealing with the hunt for a brutal killer, he is also dealing with emotions he has difficulty suppressing and it is affecting his professional and personal lives.

I am a huge fan of John Lescroart and have always enjoyed reading his novels as they are usually full of tension and suspense.  And while I enjoyed this one, I can't say that I found it truly suspenseful nor was I sitting on the edge of my seat with tension as it seemed to deal more with Wyatt's psychological issues rather than the development of the plot.  The premise was certainly interesting as Wyatt received some anonymous texts about his mother which set him on a path to discovering more about her, but I felt it really didn't live up to the potential it could have, especially considering the drama that surrounded the Jonestown Massacre.  I can't really explain it other than comparing it to a quick flame that somehow becomes this small little flame that doesn't give off any light.  Does that make sense?

I adore Wyatt Hunt and many of the characters that surround him, such as Juhle, but felt kind of let down in this installment, especially by the romance between Wyatt and Tamara.  For me, having read many of these novels and all of the Hunt novels, the romance wasn't believable and I didn't buy into it at all; in fact, I was somewhat disappointed by it and by the way it happened.   That Tamara was willing to help Wyatt in his difficulties was not in doubt as she was his friend after all, but the way the rest of it happened didn't seem real or true to the spirit of the books or Wyatt's personality.  Perhaps in the next novel, the relationship will grow on me a bit more as I like both of these characters very much.  I did really enjoy Wyatt's personal journey however, as he never really seemed vulnerable before and I liked seeing his softer, more vulnerable side; it would have made the events seem less authentic otherwise, I think.

The Hunter was not the strongest in the Wyatt Hunt novels, but it was still an enjoyable read from the perspective of getting to know Wyatt's softer, more human, more vulnerable side.  While the storyline and the romance tended to push things to a limit that was not entirely believable, the great use of dialogue and secondary characters helped to level things out somewhat and move the story forward.  While this one was not my favourite John Lescroart novel, I am definitely looking forward to the next one by this author.