Newest Review: ... a expert to help them catch the ‘Highway Killer’, a person that has left over 10 bodies next the road in 10 states, Clevenger seems to be... more
Psycho, Cocaine, Propane, Crazy!
Psychopath - Keith Ablow
Member Name: samueltyler
Psychopath - Keith Ablow
Advantages: Great relationships, a bit more clever
Disadvantages: Central plot not the strongest
Frank Clevenger is a somewhat notorious psychiatrist who is known in the media for proving a young man innocent of murder and catching the real killer. When the FBI decide to bring in a expert to help them catch the ‘Highway Killer’, a person that has left over 10 bodies next the road in 10 states, Clevenger seems to be the right guy for the job. However, things are not as straight forward as they first seem as the killer decides to open communication with Clevenger via the newspapers in a series of open letters. It’s clear from these letters that this is a man of words and more intelligent than most. Can Clevenger catch this self aware murderer whilst trying to protect his family from the glare of the media?
The core reason that this book is good and not just average is the interaction of the different characters in the book. In many ways Ablow has created characters that are as cliché as any crime novel, but he manages to make them seem more rounded by giving them rough edges and believable problems. The two relationships that drive this book are between Clevenger and the killer and Clevenger and his son. Ablow has written the book so that you follow the killer for a chapter then the hero. This means that we know who the killer is and must follow the FBI and co. as they hunt for clues. This method has proven successful for authors like John Sandford, and it works here too.
I loved the open interaction that the killer and Clevenger have through the book via letters in the newspapers – printed on the front page. Ablow is able to create an interesting relationship as both killer and hunter are trying to coax information out of the other without giving any clues away. This dialogue is a unique way of getting into both characters brains and really adds to the tension as Clevenger tries to push the killer to breaking point.
This battle of the minds is well supported by Clevenger’s personal relationship with his adopted son, Billy. Billy has just been expelled from his prestigious private school due to selling drugs. Clevenger must find a way to solve this problem under the watchful eye of the papers and social services. By adding this extra dynamic into the mix Ablow manages to create even more tension in the novel.
With such good characterisations it does not matter that the story is a straight forward chase. Essentially Ablow has managed to take a linear plotline that has been done before and add characters that you care about enough to make it enjoyable. I previously read ‘Murder/Suicide’ by the same author and it’s amazing to see the improvement in ‘Psychopath’. Having a decent plot is not always essential if you are able to create a network of people that are interesting to read about.
Overall, ‘Psychopath’ is an interesting and slightly more intellectual take on the serial killer genre. It’s definitely airport fiction, but the fact that the killer is a professional with a keen sense of their own flaws means that it rises above. The characters of Clevenger and Billy are flawed and you want to see them succeed as a family. Add to this a great dynamic between the killer and FBI and you have a fast enjoyable read. I would recommend this to crime fans as something a bit different.
Author: Keith Ablow
Price: amazon uk - £3.99
play.com - £5.49
Summary: A decent crime novel