Chris Carter has done it again: another exquisite, horrific thriller that left me up all night. I was unable to go to sleep in fear of nightmares and I wanted to read a few more chapters. Chris Carter deserves to be mentioned in the line-up of the great thriller writers.
The plot of “The Executioner” is excellent! The killer knows what his victims fear most: decapitation, fire, needles and uses that knowledge to torture and murder them in the most unimaginable gruesome ways. That unimaginable gruesomeness is a main feature in “The Executioner”. Hardened by reading thrillers, and studying criminal case law, the gruesomeness still chilled me to the bone due to its originality. I am in awe of Carter’s imagination and pretty scared of it.
The twists and turns of the novel are finely woven into the plot, so there are no obvious red herrings here. An informant with ESP plays an important part, without making the plot unrealistic, as does a second killer with his own agenda and bullying. These facets give “The Executioner” a wider reach and leaves the reader with more than a few thoughts to process.
I cannot shy away from comparing “The Executioner” to “The Crucifix Killer” and my findings are very positive. Far too often, the debut novel has the juice, while a follow up novel is soggy, but in this instance, I find that “The Executioner” is the novel, that shows Carter’s potential. The plot is more intricate and the main character, Detective Hunter, steps out of the somewhat generic role of conflicted male cop to appear more rounded and realistic. The same is true of Garcia, Hunter’s partner.
Justice and conviction are the underlying themes in “The Executioner”. The two killers in the novel are inflicting justice on their trespassers, one with the intermediary of God and a strict religious belief. They are both clouded by their convictions and they must act as they do. Hunter does the same, when he defies his superior and meets an informant in contradiction to direct orders.
Justice is an allusive conclusion, which is evident with the tipping scales of the blindfolded Justice. In “The Executioner” as in reality, the blindfold is removed and the involved parties will have to decide which way the scales tipped. I doubt that Hunter will be suspended for the insubordination, while the death of a killer in the hands of a victim, seems completely justifiable.
Any thriller reader should already have “The Executioner” on their must-read list, but I would recommend “The Executioner” to readers, who usually turn down the thriller genre as generic and unmemorable: here is the antidote.