The Caller

Written by Chris Carter — FaceTime and Skype are great inventions, aren’t they? You can chat face to face with somebody who is the other side of the world with just a couple of taps on your tablet. Or, you could call someone and then brutally murder their loved one, live on screen.

You’ve got to admire the twisted mind of a writer who can come up with such an evil premise. And surely they don’t come much more twisted than Chris Carter’s? Because that’s not all. The murderer is responsible for the deadly deed, but the blame and guilt lie heavily on the person who witnesses it. You see, they had the chance to save their nearest and dearest… If only they could have answered a simple question or two.

One result of reading this book is that you’ll be running to your mobile phone, frantically memorising the phone numbers of your closest buddies. And that wedding anniversary or birthday that you always forget? Time to sear it into your brain. Oh, and review who can look at your Facebook posts while you’re at it.

Welcome to the decidedly off-kilter world of a serial killer who delights in using modern technology and social media in his bloodthirsty quest. Murder number one is as stomach churning as they come, and sets the macabre scene for what will follow. Be warned, this book will give you nightmares…

Beautician Tanya Kaitlyn is delighted to receive a call from her BFF Karen Ward. Granted, Karen doesn’t usually video call, but whatevs. Tanya’s smiles soon turn to screams when she sees Karen on screen. She is gagged and bloody and looks terrified but even so, Tanya doubts that what she is seeing is real. After all they have a mutual friend who does make up for movies.

But this is no prank and Tanya can only look on in horror as a disembodied, distorted voice tells her what will happen next. Her friend can go free if Tanya can merely answer two simple questions. When she fails, the consequences are played out in full, gruesome, colourful detail. It’s a scene she can never forget (neither will you), and she is to blame.

Mind games are what this murderer is playing, and in LAPD Detective Robert Hunter he’s met his perfect match. This genius-level criminal profiler is soon on the case and what he uncovers bothers him mightily. As the horrific murders mount, Hunter can see some frightening similarities… it’s the differences in the MOs that are worrying. How can you predict the unpredictable?

Fans of Chris Carter will be familiar with his no-holds-barred writing style. Newcomers to the series will not feel at a disadvantage as the story works well as a standalone, but the chillingly disturbing content can take a little getting used to. Each murder is described in lavish Technicolor detail that could well have you reading through your fingers while gulping back the bile. Seriously, it is THAT gory. Not a book for bedtime consumption, unless you enjoy having a disturbed night’s sleep.

I warmed to Robert Hunter on this first acquaintance and enjoyed the interplay between him and his partner Carlos Garcia. They make a fine team, which adds a little light to the darkest of storylines. The use of social media within the plot line works well, and the addition of a professional killer as the husband of one of the victims adds a frisson of unpredictability in a book that has you jumping at shadows. Yes, I’d worked some of it out before the end, but then an extra, added, unforeseen twist made me smile with satisfaction.

The Caller is out on 23 February. We’ve previously reviewed Chris Carter’s I Am Death, and if you’re addicted to serial killers, here are 10 of the best.

Simon & Schuster
Print/Kindle/iBook
£5.00

CFL Rating: 4 Stars

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