American Devil by Oliver Stark (Harper and Levene #1)

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My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: The Killer has entitled his masterpiece The Progression of Love. All he needs is 7 beautiful women. He is a violent killer who is preying on the young and beautiful women of New York. Detective Tom Harper is currently on suspension after hitting a superior. However, the NYPD feel that he is their best chance of catching the killer. He is taken back on the case on the proviso that he seeks therapy from psychologist Denise Levene. The NYPD have to hope that as unpredictable as he is, that he won’t fall apart or ruin their case as they must catch the killer before he completes his mission.

My Review: Oliver Stark…where have you been hiding? I am a typical Crime and Thriller fan and read through numerous books a month. Yep I have my favourites and the typical series of characters I typically return to such as Alex Cross and Roy Grace. Mr Stark has just upped the ante.

When I got the book I realised that it was a pretty hefty read at 576 pages, but as usual, didn’t allow that to put me off. I started the book and was instantly drawn into the sheer violence of the lunatic killer. Yes there are hundreds of crime writers who churn out books about serial killers but there was something different about this book.

First off the characters were incredibly strong but not contrived. The lead character Tom Harper has a lot of issues which make him a great lead. However, although he has a number of attributes that other famous characters have, such as having an issue with authority, Oliver Stark somehow made him completely unique. Tom Harper has a serious chip on his shoulder but that doesn’t stop him from being a great copper. He isn’t the typical one man band who solves everything and is God’s answer top the best Detective, and the story shows that great team work in involved.

We are also soon introduced to Denise Levene who is the psychologist treating Tom. She is also a very strong character but comes across as a well balanced but intelligent woman. Somehow in many books with a lead female, some of the women are made out to be overly macho or pathetically weak, but here the balance was perfect.

The story itself can seem in the beginning a little slow but as you read on you become more and more hooked with the story developing quickly and the killer becoming more and more brazen as time goes on. I love the fact that many mistakes are made, and that the killer is openly challenging the police.

As the story progresses, the pace increases and I found myself turning pages at the speed of lightning. This debut novel is outstanding and by far the best debut I’ve had the pleasure of reading all year. There is a lot of detail involving the crime scenes, forensics and police procedure so not for the faint hearted.

Patricia Cornwell used to be one of my favourite authors however I gave up the ghost last year and no longer read her work. This book reminded me of the type of work Cornwell produced in the early years. I cannot recommend this highly enough and would recommend it to people who are a fan of this genre. All I need to do now is impatiently wait for instalment 2!

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