First published back in May of 2009, Shaun Jeffrey’s sadistically dark serial killer thriller entitled ‘The Kult’ was the British author’s second full length novel to be published.
Detective Chief Inspector Prosper Snow is leading the investigation into the recent series of disturbing murders that have begun to take place. The first victim to the psychotic serial killer, self-named ‘The Oracle’, is the young and facially disfigured girl Jane Numan. Snow and the rest of the force first hear about the murder when a photograph of the girl's heavily mutilated corpse arrives at the police station in a sealed envelope. From here on in, the victims pile up displaying increasingly elaborate degrees of sadistic mutilation to their corpses - each one in an elaborate and morbidly artistic pose.
Before long, Snow is contacted by his school time friend Jerel Jones - one of four members of a group (of which Snow was a part of), group that was bond via a blood pact many years ago. The other two members of the group, Wolfe Weaver and Ty Westwood, collectively known as ‘The Kult’ are also summoned to this meeting. When they are all once again together, Jones divulges a plan he has formulated to have his wife's rapist (The Hatchet Man) murdered by the group. Furthermore, with Snow's insight, Westwood details how he plans to set it up so that this new serial killer - ‘The Oracle’ takes the blame for the murder.
After a great deal of hesitation from Snow, the group agrees to help out their friend and soon enough the murder plot is underway. However, after the abduction and murder of Christine Jones's rapist, events start going from bad to worse when those around Snow, including the members of ‘The Kult’, are all of a sudden now being targeted by The Oracle.
Snow is put in a difficult position, where he not only has to tackle ‘The Oracle’ who is slowly working his way through his friends and family, but also try to remain unlinked to the murder of The Hatchet Man. Knowing who he can ultimately trust has now become the toughest challenge for Snow...
From the start, Jeffrey sets the tale off with a triumphant pace, throwing in an abundance of graphically gory murders and morbidly imaginative mutilations that take the likes of David Fincher’s film ‘Se7en’ (1995) to even more morbidly horrific depths.
Jeffrey manages to hook the reader in from the very first page, keeping his foot on the accelerator from then on, making it difficult for the reader to jump off this speeding tale at any one stage. This unrelenting pace is complemented perfectly by the ingenious twists and turns that bombard the reader, leaving them untrusting of any new character to the storyline.
With the death toll rising, Jeffrey cleverly pulls the story in to a personal battle for Snow, adding a complex array of desperate emotions that hook the reader still further into the dark depths of the tale.
The use of bold characters displaying an array of individual yet likeable characteristics allows Jeffrey to inject a flowing energy and life to every emotional event that takes place for the members of ‘The Kult’. With the storyline twisting and turning seemingly with every turn of the page, the underlying tension keeps mounting throughout. Each twist in the plot forms a new ledge for Jeffrey to start once again mounting the tension from, until it eventually reaches almost epic proportions, whereby the reader is almost ripping at the pages to discover the truth behind ‘The Oracle’.
As the storyline races onwards, clues left by ‘The Oracle’ remain un-deciphered, although the solution to these clues seems to be glaring the reader in the face. This is slightly annoying after a while, with the unsolved ‘mystery’ of the clues left by the killer simply dragging on. However, this does not ultimately affect the sheer enjoyment of the novel, with its carefully laid subplots creating pure edge-of-the-seat entertainment.
Hurtling towards the tale’s conclusion with the unveiling and final confrontation with ‘The Oracle’, Jeffrey pulls out all the stops with a dramatic and adrenaline fuelled grande finale. With such a carefully thought out and elaborate tale, Jeffrey manages to wrap the whole story up perfectly, with each twist that occurred falling perfectly into place, allowing for a truly satisfying conclusion.
Jeffrey purposefully created an air of mystery surrounding ‘The Oracle’ and his motives through the length of the tale, keeping the reader puzzling over any potential suspects, which manages to draw the reader in to the storyline still further. With the novel over, the reader can reflect upon and admire the subtleties that Jeffrey cunningly injected into the storyline and into the characters at various points throughout the tale, that only at the end come to light.
This really is a novel that will claw you in to the pages and keep you prisoner within the storyline until it finally spits you out. From start to finish this is page after page of high-pressured tension that will leave you gasping for air once the final page is turned.
The novel runs for a total of 328 pages.
© DLS Reviews