Review of I Don’t Want To Kill You by Dan Wells (Read this series if you haven’t already)
I Am Not a Serial Killer, the first book in the John Cleaver series (which has recently been extended to 6 books) was one of the best books I read last year. The sequel, Mr Monster, wasn’t as good as its predecessor, but it was still crazily paced, with plenty of tension and Cleaver’s witty, crazy first person narration. The second book suffered from being similar to the first, and not really developing in terms of plot or character.
The third book manages to be just as good as the first, and delivers an ending that promises to change the rest of the series completely.
This time around, John knows there’s a demon coming for him, and he plans on getting to it before it can hurt anyone else—him included. But things don’t go to plan and he ends up hunting two killers. This time around, the book is a cross between the TV show Grimm and Dexter. And it’s as cool as that sounds.
Wells gets into John’s head like in the last two books, but John’s psychosis takes a bit of a back seat this time to the investigation and the crazy amount of tension Wells builds up. The plot is tight and races along and is never anything less than gripping. There’s a slight jar in pace three quarters of the way through, but it’s not major enough to detract anything from the rating.
Well’s writing is sharp and there’s no excess description to slow the pace. John is a believable, likeable narrator despite the fact that he’s obsessed with killing people. Some readers might find it hard to identify with some of the things John thinks about. And there’s a rare moment when some of John’s sociopathic problems don’t ring true—maybe there’s a little too much telling, not enough showing for it to be always believable. But Well’s makes up for some minor character problems with enough tension to make this a read-in-one-sitting book. There’s rarely a moment where you’re not waiting for something bad to happen or a page where your knuckles aren’t white around the pages.
The ending is what ensures this book gets full marks. Wells could have ended it like he did the first and second book, but he defies any readers’ expectations and delivers a punch in the gut instead. It’s a gripping, unexpected ending to a wholly unpredictable book. What it means for the rest of the series is a massive change—to John and the plot.
When the first book introduced the supernatural elements, I wasn’t fully sold. But then the second book changed my mind. Now the third solidifies the fact that this series works well with the supernatural elements and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.
If Dan Wells has ARC copies available, I’d face off with a demon myself for one.
Overall, this is massively entertaining, tautly paced, filled with suspense and ensures that there is definitely still life in this series.
Highly, highly recommended.