Category: Oliver Stark

88 Killer by Oliver Stark (Harper and Levine #2)


My Rating: 5/5

Oliver Stark released his debut novel American Devil in 2010 which I devoured and absolutely loved. Sometimes when an author produces such a great debut there is an impending sense of doom. Maybe the next one won’t be as good? How can it be with such a great start? Thankfully Oliver Stark has not only produced a great debut, he has produced a second book that is equally as good.

I downloaded the Kindle version and didn’t realise that his second book is no less hefty than the first coming in at just under 500 pages. His first book introduced us to the two characters featuring in this story also. Denise Levene is a psychologist that was previously treating Tom Harper. Tom Harper is a copper that has a talent for catching the most evil of criminals. Both characters I fell in love with last time as they were a little different from the normal stereotypical characters. This time around we see them following the harrowing incident in the last book.

What I loved about the characters themselves is that Oliver Stark hasn’t pretended the characters are indestructible. In the beginning of the book we see both Tom and Denise struggling with their demons after the fall out of the last serial killer they were up against. It makes the characters a lot more likeable as they aren’t perfect. Sadly the two of them don’t have time to reflect for too long as before long they are drawn into the three cases that at first glance seem unconnected.

As with his last book I found the beginning a little slow to start. However, after reading two of his books I realise that this must be a style for him, where he starts off with the background and slowly make the pace pick up speed until you are unaware how fast you are reading!

The crimes and crime scenes are gruesome and extremely descriptive and you get a real feel for what is happening. After the first third of the book I was reluctant to put this down. If you didn’t know it you may mistake the author for being American as he gives a great backdrop for the American setting. He also doesn’t make it to easy, you really get an understanding that solving cases is not easy and that the characters make mistakes as well as having to really work to fit the pieces together.

This book is again a true testament to a fantastic new author; a man that has a real talent for this genre and I would highly recommend.

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!