THE KILLING SEASON
by Mason Cross
Publisher: Pegasus Crime, April 2014
Reviewed by Sam Waas
“The first thing you should know about me is that my name is not Carter Blake.”
Thus begins this superb action thriller about a shadowy and independent-minded operative (Blake) who teams with the FBI to find an escaped serial killer, Caleb Wardell. Blake is partnered with Agent Elaine Banner, which of course leads to a potential romantic entanglement.
You might think, “Heck. I’ve read dozens of books with exactly the same premise.” And you’d be correct. But it would be a mistake to reject the killing season for this reason, because this novel is an exceptional, intelligent, and fascinating action mystery.
The author of course starts with a conventional premise, but from the initial paragraph, you know that you’ve found a real gem of a tale. The novel is far more literate than most thrillers, a pleasure to read because of the coherent story line, believable characters, and substantive plot, more comprehensively realized than are other books of this genre. Another nice touch is that, unlike the omniscient superhero lone-wolf heroes of similar but less realistic pulp-oriented novels, Carter Blake is very human and fallible. Technical details, such as firearms function, are also accurately depicted but at the same time, without what I jokingly term Techno-Trivia overload.
Enhancing the already superb narrative and dialogue is the pleasant fact that the story line extends far beyond the conventional with a sharp and incisive secondary plot. In addition to the already arduous task of finding the killer, a dark third presence comes to the surface, someone or some group that is surreptitiously aiding the sniper in his terror. But why?
All these elements are skillfully intertwined in an articulate and exciting novel that commands the reader’s attention throughout. the killing season comes with my highest recommendation.
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