I Hunt Killers Goes to Japan

Guys, I am thrilled to announce that the I Hunt Killers series will soon be available in Japan!

Tokyo Sogensha logoPublisher Tokyo Sogensha will publish it, and the first book hits Japanese bookstores in May 2015. Yeah, next month!

And look at this absolutely unbelievably amazing cover by illustrator Sky Emma!

Click to embiggen!

Click to embiggen!

Holy cow, right??? Isn’t that awesome? I am so psyched/lucky!

But there’s more. Because apparently in Japan, it’s common to have an afterword of sorts added to the book — part review, part summation — to add context for the reader. For I Hunt Killers, the publisher engaged Fumi Wakabayashi, a well-known Japanese critic, who wrote the following (translated from Japanese):

What is the first impression that you get from a “novel about serial killers,” or from the Japanese title for this novel, “Goodbye, serial killer?” A bloody and gruesome psychological thriller, maybe? Let me tell you, your prediction will be defied, in a good way. The incidents in the story are psychotic indeed, but it’s more than that.

The story opens in a field outside a peaceful town, Lobo’s Nod. A female naked body was found there, and the field is now full of cops. And a boy, hiding in tall grass with binoculars in his hand, is watching them. His name is Jasper “Jazz” Dent, and he’s a 17-year-old high school student.

Seeing a severed finger placed in an evidence bag, Jazz is convinced that this is a part of serial killing, and he gives his thought to Sheriff G. William Tanner.

What made Jazz so sure? His father Billy Dent is an infamous serial killer, who was arrested for having killed more than 100 people over two decades. As Jazz grew up, the worst serial killer of the 21st century shared with his son all the knowledge and techniques for the trade. For Jazz, cutting off a finger from the victim is a clear sign for a serial killer who collects trophies.

However, the sheriff does not buy his idea, and he is against Jazz’s involvement in the case. If more murders occur in this small town, it is obvious what people will think of the son of the notorious serial killer. To stop the murderer, Jazz begins his own investigation.

There are so many mysteries with boy and girl sleuths, but Jasper “Jazz” Dent would be the most eccentric among all. Born and raised as son of a serial killer, Jazz is an expert in abnormal psychology, and he can look at the case from the murderer’s perspective. He’s also trained to manipulate people. Jazz’s hunt for the freaky killer may remind you of a classic “sleuth-and-villain” battle.

While I Hunt Killers is an entertaining thriller, it is far from a mere entertainment which just aims to shock the readers. It’s probably because the story also focuses on the complicated emotions of Jazz, who tries to break the curse as a serial killer’s son and to be an ordinary high-school kid. In fact, he appears to be a boy in your neighborhood: He goes to school, and he has a good friend and a girlfriend. However, the unconscious manifestation of his manipulative skills makes him feel terrible and wonder if he will become a monster like his father after all.

As a 17-year-old boy, who is just between a child and an adult, Jazz has both maturity and child-like fragility. By successfully describing Jazz’s wavering identity, I Hunt Killers can be read also as a great coming-of-age novel.

To talk about this novel, I should also refer to two other characters – Jazz’s best friend Howie and Jazz’s girlfriend Connie, both of whom give warmth and depth to the novel.

Howie is hemophiliac, but he is always positive and serves as an ideal “Dr. Watson” for Jazz. Connie loves Jazz regardless his background. When she takes the role of a slavefor a school play, Jazz asks her if that does not bother her, as she’s black. And Connie says, “I care about the people who are hurting [in Africa]. The wars. The genocide. The famine. […] But no more than people on any other continent who are suffering. And I don’t care about slavery, either. […] But I care about the now, Jazz. The now and the coming. I don’t care about the past. Get it?”

Connie’s remarks here clearly show us an important theme of this novel. Whatever background you may have, you are you, and it’s valuable for you to establish who you are. I believe that Jazz’s agony and the book’s message to it will resonate with readers beyond generations.

I’m really honored to have a critic held in such high esteem in Japan say such kind things about my book. ありがとう!

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