Dark Origins by Anthony E Zuiker with Duane Swierczynski

Sqweegel is a level 26 serial killer – the worst kind of monster ever. Not for the faint –hearted or pregnant women – it’s a living nightmare.
This is the book’s blurb:

‘Steve Dark is in retirement from the elite crime squad Special Circs. Two years ago he came close to terminating a psychopath’s killing spree – but not close enough. In revenge, the killer destroyed Steve’s family – and Steve quit, vowing never to return.

But now the killer’s back – having shot, raped, strangled and tortured fifty more victims. This time he targets Steve’s new wife and unborn child. Special Circs are convinced that only Dark can stop him – but is Steve prepared to risk everything to once more hunt a monster?’

The answer is obviously, yes. I cannot imagine any man with his background, who wouldn’t be prepared to protect his wife and unborn child, and I found the initial reluctance to be barely credible – and the rationale behind it, a bit weak. Strangely enough, the book’s other operatives appeared to have a far greater capacity (and willingness) to catch Sqweegel, than Dark.

This is the first book in a ground-breaking trilogy by the creator of the CSI franchise. It features a bonus interactive video – a horrifying glimpse into the sick mind of the monster and his victims. While I had some concerns about the character portrayal in the movie scenes (see below) the dramatic atmosphere conjured up is suitably scary, with great sound effects.

However, the second book, Dark Prophecy has a more intriguing video – and a better story line, but with a less frightening killer. In this one, I found the Sqweegel visual scenes portrayed him to be more of a contortionist clown than a monster, and because he does have some moral reasons for his actions – it does raise a question whether he could really be classified as a level 26 killer? In my opinion, a level 26 killer should have no morals, no remorse – just kills because he wants to, full-stop. However, I suspect that the US publishing industry wouldn’t endorse it – too much political correctness, nowadays?

Also, Steve Dark’s movie portrayal by a pony-tailed, lacklustre, lightweight doesn’t come across as being macho enough to destroy Sqweegel – Sibby, Dark’s wife seemed to have more spirit, despite her horrifying predicament; it would be any pregnant woman’s worst nightmare. On the other hand Riggins movie character is superb – and highly believable.

But for all that, the written book is still heavyweight US crime fiction, all 390 pages of gripping tension. As gruesome as it gets.

Be warned. Buy it, and cry.

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