Review: The Killing Season by Mason Cross

Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Title: The Killing Season (Carter Blake, #1)
Author: Mason Cross
Publisher: Orion
Publication Date: 9th April 2015
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781409145691
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
When Caleb Wardell, the infamous 'Chicago Sniper', escapes from death row two weeks before his execution, the FBI calls on the services of Carter Blake, a man with certain specialised talents whose skills lie in finding those who don't want to be found. A man to whom Wardell is no stranger.

Along with Elaine Banner, an ambitious special agent juggling life as a single mother with her increasingly high-flying career, Blake must track Wardell down as he cuts a swathe across America, apparently killing at random.

But Blake and Banner soon find themselves sidelined from the case. And as they try desperately to second guess a man who kills purely for the thrill of it, they uncover a hornets' nest of lies and corruption. Now Blake must break the rules and go head to head with the FBI if he is to stop Wardell and expose a deadly conspiracy that will rock the country.

You know when a book is everything you wanted it to be and more? That book is The Killing Season and I am currently kicking myself for not having read it sooner as it has been on my TBR since its release. The only positive thing about reading it now is I have book two, The Samaritan ready to read rather than having a torturous wait like those that read The Killing Season last year have had.

The Killing Season isn't really anything that hasn't been done before, and the lazy comparisons to other authors within this genre are inevitable but Mason Cross takes the often done thriller and makes it his own, creating two brilliant characters in Carter Blake and Caleb Wardell. Wardell is the infamous 'Chicago Sniper' and he escapes from death row two weeks before his execution and it doesn't take him long to pick up where he left off, by going on a murderous rampage across the US. The FBI call on the services of Carter Blake (not his real name), a man who finds people that don't want to be found. Blake has more than met his match in Wardell, and despite being quite clever and forward-thinking, Blake is always just one step behind Wardell.

The Killing Season is one of those books where the bad guy is just as intriguing as the good (or less bad in the case of Carter Blake?) and as it is fiction I think it's okay to say that I very much enjoyed watching Blake get outwitted in the beginning, those scenes where we follow Wardell wreaking havoc were some of the most exciting in the book. The thrill of the chase is always heightened by a large body count, and the fear of the unknown, not knowing where Wardell will strike next is exciting also.

As a thriller the action is of course non-stop from the word go, being set over just a few days the book never really gives you pause for breath but isn't that why we pick up a thriller? At the same time though there's a real story in this book, and the characters have depth, and enough about them to make them stand out from the crowd. One such character is Elaine Banner, one of the FBI agents tasked with capturing Wardell. The FBI agents have their own agendas for wanting to take down Wardell, whereas for Blake it's a mixture of doing his job and settling a score. It's a shame that it seems this may be Banner's first and final appearance, as she's a character I would have liked to read about again.

It's obvious that the inevitable confrontation between Blake and Wardell will take place towards the end of the book, and when it came it was brilliant. More often than not an author will write a great book, and then completely lose the plot at the end with a silly ending, that is absolutely not the case here and whilst I was right about how certain things would conclude, the ending was no less thrilling because of that. Also, Mason throws in a brilliant little twist, one that I felt I should have seen coming but one that was excellent nonetheless.

Mason Cross is a brilliant writer, and you'd have no idea that this book was written by a British author, he has captured the American setting, and the language, perfectly, making this - to me at least - a truly authentic read. The Killing Season was an exhilarating roller coaster ride of a read and when I finished it I wanted to read it all over again. Brutally fast-paced and brilliantly addictive, I can't recommend this book enough if there's still people out there yet to discover Mason Cross. Once again I am late to the party, but arriving late is better than not arriving at all.

Mason Cross can easily compete with the authors he is being compared to, and if The Samaritan is even half as good as The Killing Season then it won't be long before he is a star in this genre.

4.5/5

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