Films / Screening Culture

Book Review: One By One by Chris Carter

Chris Carter One By OneVerdict:

What would you do if a new craze hit the net letting you decide how to kill a ‘guilty’ individual? Would you believe it was all just a movie hoax? Would you vote?

These were some of the intriguing questions stirred within Chris Carter’s fifth instalment in the Robert Hunter series, One By One.

From the outset, what captivated me to this novel was the plot. A new serial killer is on the loose who is utilising the web to broadcast in real time some of the most violent ways in which we can die. Like in reality TV shows, the public are then given the opportunity to vote on two different death methods. It’s quite psychological disturbing that this idea of bring reality TV to the extremes and seeing how the public would react if this would happen in real life made me want to read this book.

Carter himself is a professional in this trade, he was previously part of a Criminal Psychology team, so this depth of why the killer was doing these acts and how the public were reacting was realistically reflected through our central character, Hunter.

Straight away Hunter, who is from the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division, is the target of the killer’s attention. The anonymous caller contacts the department directly to speak with him, forcing the Detective to watch the murder as well as deciding how the victim will reach his death. It was no wonder that I then went on to read this novel in two sittings. It is an extreme clique, but the book was unputdownable due to a thrilling plot where each of the short chapters ends with a cliff hanger.

The murders themselves were very gruesome and detailed. They were very reminiscent of gory horror movies, like the Saw saga, but instead of visualising them on the screen; you had to imagine the deaths in your head. Although there was more substance to just these gory deaths as you found yourself trying to work out how the victims and the killer were related, especially when the murderer would toy with the Detectives by leaving them clues.

Chapter Seventy-Five illustrated one of the broadcasts from a teenager’s perspective. Despite the two boys actions being disgusting and carless – making you surprisingly angry towards these fictional characters – you can imagine how their actions of voting on the death method and watching it online would transpire in the real world. If it’s not someone we know and love, society would probably discard a unique life for entertainment.

We would gain more of an insight into the personal lives of some characters through their own perspectives, like Hunter’s cop partner, Carlos Garcia. This may be boring if repeated in previous novels, however fleshing out the characters made them seem more real and it was a good break from the thrilling main plot line.

We also witnessed a closing paedophilia case from Michelle Kelly, head of the FBI Cybercrime Division. Despite not linking up to the main plot itself, this was a good excuse to show a frequent crime that does take place via the internet.

It wasn’t until half way through One By One that I realised the book was a part of a saga. So if you have never read a Robert Hunter book in the past, don’t fear that you can’t read this book now in case it gives the game away in a previous novel. There was only one reference I could make out about The Crucifix Killer, so I believe you can probably read them in any order you wish.

One By One was a fun read which held a psychological depth. The writing style was simple and this was all that was needed to reflect everything necessary in the book.

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