Kill Cycle is unlike the other Ike Hamill books I’ve read in that it’s a straight-up crime novel. But like all his novels, it’s unusual – in a good way! Refreshing.
Here, the protagonist trying to identify a serial killer is not a washed-out alcoholic detective with authority-figure issues and a troubled past (yawn). No, here we have a cheerful, quite intelligent (but in an ordinary, everyday way, and the author doesn’t make a thing of it), home-loving writer of magazine articles (so, he’s a “writer” but in an ordinary way, as a job; none of those clichés of the tortured artist). He’s not dark enough to be the archetypical anti-hero and not clever or brave enough to be the archetypical hero. Just a guy. A good guy, but not A Good Guy. A family man, but not A Family Man.
He is entirely plausible in his amateur detective work, getting fixated, changing his mind, doing a few stupid things along the way. Taking breaks to pick up the kids, but needing to set an alarm clock to remind him to do so. (Does that make him the archetypical Everyman? OK, I know, enough about archetypes…)
The other characters are also well fleshed out and credible, the plotting is good, suspense abounds and settings are vivid. All the ingredients are there for a satisfying read.
I’ve been on an Ike Hamill binge recently and he continues to astonish me. From science fiction to horror to crime… all of his books that I’ve read are gripping from the start and keep up a relentless pace to the end. Packed with twists and surprises. True, the editing is not perfect (queues instead of cues at one point and the odd missed word): it feels like the author is writing so fast the mistakes slip in. But just as if you were listening to a friend tell a breathless story, you forgive and let it go because the story is so interesting you just don’t care about the mistakes. (That said, another round of editing wouldn’t go amiss!)
I want to avoid spoilers so I won’t go into the story, except to say that the ending was not up to the standard of the rest and became a bit cliché-packed, but it does pull all the strings together satisfyingly. Don’t let that put you off though; the rest of the book is well worth the ride.
Find Kill Cycle on Amazon and at other bookstores.