Spree by Michael Morley
A madman is on the rampage in the Los Angeles streets. The City of Angels has become The City of Fear. And everyone from the Oval Office down wants a quick result. The heat is on Jake Mottram, head of the FBI’s new Spree Killer Unit, and psychological profiler Angie Holmes to find the madman responsible.
Until now, they’ve been great together. Both at work and in bed. But a killer is about to come between them, in ways that could cost them far more than their careers. Will they survive the spree about to come?
Life and death in LA – like you’ve never seen it before.
Jake and Angie are the flip sides of the same coin. Jake is all about taking direct action and instinct, while Angie focuses on analysis, introspection and investigation. Both of these approaches to solving cases have benefits but also failings. Their professional relationship sometimes throws up conflicts that spill over into their personal lives. Getting to see both individuals as more than just agents, but as human beings, gives a nice extra depth to the plot.
Throughout the main narrative that features Angie and Jake, there are chapters from the killer’s perspective. The lunatic spree-killer is referred to only as Shooter, and these where the highlights of the novel for me, as these chapters play out very effectively. They give the reader just the right amount of insight into what’s motivating this outbreak of violence without giving away anything that would spoil the main plot, or reveal the identity of the UNSUB too soon. Shooter is full of righteous anger and completely focused on his plan. It’s been a while since I’ve come across such a creepy character, great stuff.
Morley’s novel includes elements from various different forms of social media, everything from Twitter and Facebook, to 24hr news television are mentioned. Seeing how the story plays out in the constant glare of the 21st century gives the plot a keen modern edge; especially when you consider how the killer reacts to their portrayal in the media and their sudden overnight infamy.
Spree was originally serialised in five parts. I read the complete edition, but knowing that it had been split up previously, I have to admit that I did spend some time trying to spot where each part ended. I rather like the idea of serialising fiction in this manner. It appears to be more and more popular of late, and crime feels like the perfect genre where this format can excel.
There is a moment is Spree (don’t worry I’ll not provide any more of a spoiler than that) which managed to completely catch me unawares. I expected the story to go one way and instead it veered off in an entirely different direction. I’d imagine this will divide opinion right down the middle, some will love it while others will loathe it. Personally, I’m still sitting on the fence, I just can’t decide if this was perfect or terrible. Part of me still wants to see the novel go off in the other direction, but the other half of me rather enjoyed how things played out. It’s a bold move on the author’s part and I have to respect him for that. My compliments to the author for causing me such mental anguish. It highlights the genuine strength of the writing.
The closest thing I can equate reading Spree to, is watching an episode of Criminal Minds. There is that familiar dynamic between the main leads, and the mix of professional and personal plot that works so well. Put it this way, if you enjoy that show, I certainly do, then you’ll enjoy the book. If you’re looking for a novel that’s fast paced, with a diverting plot that’s high on action then I’d look no further than Spree. It’s the ideal beach read, quick to rattle through and entertaining to boot.
Spree is published by Headline and is available now.