I Am Not a Serial Killer (John Cleaver Series #1)

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"John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it. He's spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential. He's obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn't want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he's written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation." "Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don't demand or expect the empathy he's unable to offer. Perhaps that's what gives him the

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"John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it. He's spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential. He's obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn't want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he's written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation." "Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don't demand or expect the empathy he's unable to offer. Perhaps that's what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there's something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat - and to appreciate what that difference means." Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can't control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

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  • I Am Not A Serial Killer
    I Am Not A Serial Killer  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The teenage (and innocent) John Wayne Cleaver swears he is not the serial killer that has emerged in his small town--despite his grisly name and a series of unpleasant and eerie similarities. His fascination with the killer leads him to launch his own investigation of sorts-- one that leads him to the identity of the murderer. There are shades of Jeff Lindsay's darkly comic Dexter series, but John Allen Nelson is miscast. His female voices are grating caricatures, and he cannot become the protagonist--his voice is too deep, assured, and assertive even when the text suggests otherwise. A Tor hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 1). (Apr.)
Library Journal
John Wayne Cleaver is an extremely self-aware young man who has spent most of his adolescence fighting a predilection for violence toward others. Like Dexter Morgan, Jeff Lindsay's serial killer protagonist (e.g., Dexter by Design), to whom he'll at least initially be compared, John knows what he is, or at least what he could become, which is why he lives by strict self-imposed rules. When mutilated bodies start to turn up around town, however, John realizes that he may be able to use his tendencies to solve the crime himself. What starts out as a typical serial-killer scenario, though, takes a much darker turn with Wells, one that makes this debut stand out. John not only works to track down the killer but to take matters into his own hands to protect those close to him. VERDICT Though it will appeal to Dexter fans, Wells's story stands well on its own. Great pacing, a likable character, and a combination of horror and supernatural elements make this title in a new trilogy appealing.—Craig Shufelt, Fort McMurray P.L., Alta.
Publishers Weekly
Fans of Jeff Lindsay's Dexter series and its TV spinoff will welcome Wells's gripping debut, the first in a projected trilogy featuring 15-year-old sociopath John Wayne Cleaver. Cleaver lives in Clayton, a small town in the heart of Middle America, where he assists his mother with the family mortuary and seeks to keep his demons at bay through sessions with a psychotherapist and rigid adherence to a set of boundaries. Obsessed with serial killers, Cleaver lives in fear that the monster inside him will break out and act on his violent fantasies. When the eviscerated remains of a local man turn up behind a Laundromat, the first of several murders in which the killer butchers his prey and takes body parts as trophies, Cleaver turns detective. Wells does a good job entering the mind of his unlikely protagonist, but a surprising revelation about the Clayton killer's identity may turn off thriller readers who prefer not to mix genres. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Fifteen-year-old John Wayne Cleaver knows he's different, but not because he has but one friend (and doesn't much like him) and not because he regularly helps out in his mother's mortuary. He's different because he recognizes the classic signs of an incipient serial killer in his own personality, and he's created a rigid set of rules to follow to keep his darker nature in check. When a string of grisly murders begins in Clayton, John's small hometown, he uses his specialized knowledge of serial killers to investigate. Will the darkness on the outside intensify the darkness within? Especially when he finds there is much more to this killer than anyone expects . . . even John. Wells's debut, the first in a projected trilogy starring a character who seems the love child of Showtime's Dexter and F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack, is an unabashedly gory gem. While certainly not for all audiences, this deft mix of several genres features a completely believable teenage sociopath (with a heart of gold), dark humor, a riveting mystery and enough description of embalming to make any teen squeamish even if they won't admit it. Buy multiples where it won't be banned. (Thriller/horror. YA)
From the Publisher
"Fans of...Dexter...will welcome Wells's gripping debut." —Publishers Weekly
New York Times bestselling author F. Paul Wilson

This dazzling, un-put-downable debut novel proves beyond a doubt that Dan Wells has the gift. His teenage protagonist is as chilling as he is endearing. More John Wayne Cleaver, please.
New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson

The beauty of the prose, mixed with the depth of characterization, gives the haunting, first person narrative a human touch. Regardless of your age or your genre preferences, you will find this story both profound and enthralling.
The Barnes & Noble Review

Considering its blunt title is I Am Not a Serial Killer, Dan Wells' debut thriller has a surprising amount of nuance mixed in with its over-the-top, slightly fantastical premise. John Wayne Cleaver, after all, knows exactly who he is: an affect-free boy obsessed with serial killers because he doesn't want to grow up to be like one, and who lives by a rigid rulebook to prevent backsliding into his namesake's territory. No wonder the people who think they are closest to him -- like his mortician mother, who urges Cleaver to try more typical hobbies -- don't understand: "sociopathy wasn't just being emotionally deaf, it was being emotionally mute, too. I felt like the characters on our muted TV, waving their hands and screaming and never saying a word out loud."

Then people start dying in gruesome ways and young John Wayne realizes someone just like him is hunting, out of control, unless he does something about it. The enjoyable climax sets things up nicely for a sequel, but I Am Not A Serial Killer might have been brilliant had it kept John Wayne's story within realist waters instead of venturing into outright horror.

--Sarah Weinman

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765322470
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Series: John Cleaver Series, #1
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.64 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Dan A. Wells

Dan Wells is the author of Mr. Monster and I Don't Want to Kill You. He lives in Orem, Utah, with his wife, Dawn, and four young children.

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Read an Excerpt


Mrs. Anderson was dead.

Nothing flashy, just old age—she went to bed one night and never woke up. They say it was a peaceful, dignified way to die, which I suppose is technically true, but the three days it took for someone to realize they hadn’t seen her in a while removed most of the dignity from the situation. Her daughter eventually dropped by to check on her and found her corpse three days rotted and stinking like roadkill. And the worst part isn’t the rotting, it’s the three days—three whole days before anyone cared enough to say, "Wait, where’s that old lady that lives down by the canal?" There’s not a lot of dignity in that.

But peaceful? Certainly. She died quietly in her sleep on August thirtieth, according to the coroner, which means she died two days before the something tore Jeb Jolley’s insides out and left him in a puddle behind the laundromat. We didn’t know it at the time, but that made Mrs. Anderson the last person in Clayton County to die of natural causes for almost six months. The Clayton Killer got the rest.

Well, most of them. All but one.

We got Mrs. Anderson’s body on Saturday, September Second, after the coroner was done with it—or, I guess I should say that my mom and Aunt Margaret got the body, not me. They’re the ones who run the mortuary; I’m only fifteen. I’d been in town most of the day, watching the police clean up the mess with Jeb, and came back just as the sun was beginning to go down. I slipped in the back just in case my mom was up front. I didn’t really want to see her.

No one was in the back yet, just me and Mrs. Anderson’s corpse. It was lying perfectly still on the table, under a blue sheet. It smelled like rotten meat and bug spray, and the lone ventilator fan buzzing loudly overhead wasn’t doing much to help. I washed my hands quietly in the sink, wondering how long I had, and gently touched the body. Old skin was my favorite—dry and wrinkled, with a texture like antique paper. The coroner hadn’t done much to clean up the body, probably because they were busy with Jeb, but the smell told me that at least they’d thought to kill the bugs. After three days in end-of-summer heat, there had probably been a lot of them.

A woman swung open the door from the front end of the mortuary and came in, looking like a surgeon in her green scrubs and mask. I froze, thinking it was my mother, but the woman just glanced at me and walked to a counter.

"Hi John," she said, collecting some sterile rags. It wasn’t my mom at all, it was her sister Margaret—they were twins, and when their faces were masked I could barely tell the difference. Margaret’s voice was a little lighter, though, a little more . . . energetic. I figured it was because she’d never been married.

"Hi Margaret." I took a step back.

"Ron’s getting lazier," she said, picking up a squirt bottle of Dis-Spray. "He didn’t even clean her, just declared natural causes and shipped her over. Mrs. Anderson deserves better than this." She turned to look at me. "You just gonna stand there, or are you gonna help me?"


"Wash up."

I rolled up my sleeves eagerly and went back to the sink.

"Honestly," she went on, "I don’t even know what they do over there at the coroner’s office. It’s not like they’re busy—we can barely stay in business here."

"Jeb Jolley died," I said, drying my hands. "They found him this morning behind the Wash-n-Dry."

"The mechanic?" asked Margaret, her voice dropping lower. "That’s terrible. He’s younger than I am. What happened?"

"Murdered," I said, and pulled a mask and apron from a hook on the wall. "They thought maybe it was a wild dog, but his guts were kind of in a pile."

"That’s terrible," Margaret said again.

"Well you’re the one worried about going out of business," I said. "Two bodies in one weekend is money in the bank."

"Don’t even joke like that, John," she said, looking at me sternly. "Death is a sad thing, even when it pays your mortgage. You ready?"


"Hold her arm out."

I grabbed the body’s right arm and pulled it straight. Rigor mortis makes a body so stiff you can barely move it, but it only lasts about a day and a half and this one had been dead so long the muscles had all relaxed again. Though the skin was papery, the flesh underneath was soft, like dough. Margaret sprayed the arm with disinfectant and began wiping it gently with a cloth.

Even when the coroner does his job and cleans the body, we always wash it ourselves before we start. Embalming’s a long pro cess, with a lot of very precise work, and you need a clean slate to start with.

"It stinks pretty bad," I said.


"She stinks pretty bad," I said. Mom and Margaret were adamant that we be respectful to the deceased, but it seemed a little late at this stage. It wasn’t a person anymore, it was just a body. A thing.

"She does smell," said Margaret. "Poor woman. I wish someone had found her sooner." She looked up at the ventilator fan buzzing behind its grate in the ceiling. "Let’s hope the motor doesn’t burn out on us to night." Margaret said the same thing before every embalming, like a sacred chant. The fan continued creaking overhead.

"Leg," she said. I moved down to the body’s foot and pulled the leg straight while Margaret sprayed it. "Turn your head." I kept my gloved hands on the foot and turned to stare at the wall while Margaret lifted up the sheet to wash the upper thighs. "One good thing that came of this, though," she said, "is that you can bet every widow in the county got a visit today, or is going to get one tomorrow. Everyone who hears about Mrs. Anderson is going to go straight to their own mother, just to make sure. Other leg."

I wanted to say something about how everyone who heard about Jeb would go straight to their auto mechanic, but Margaret never appreciated jokes like that.

We moved around the body, leg to arm, arm to torso, torso to head, until the whole thing was scrubbed and disinfected. The room smelled like death and soap. Margaret tossed the rags in the laundry bin and started gathering the real embalming supplies.

I’d been helping Mom and Margaret at the mortuary since I was a little boy, back before Dad left. My first job had been cleaning up the chapel: picking up programs, dumping out ash trays, vacuuming the floor, and other odd jobs that a six-year-old could do unassisted. I got bigger jobs as I grew older, but I didn’t get to help with the really cool stuff—embalming—until I was twelve. Embalming was like . . . I don’t know how to describe it. It was like playing with a giant doll, dressing it and bathing it and opening it up to see what was inside. I watched Mom once when I was eight, peeking in through the door to see what the big secret was. When I cut open my teddy bear the next week, I don’t think she made the connection.

Margaret handed me a wad of cotton, and I held it at the ready while she packed small tufts carefully under the body’s eyelids. The eyes were beginning to recede, deflating as they lost moisture, and cotton helped keep the right shape for the viewing. It helped keep the eyelids closed as well, but Margaret always added a bit of sealing cream, just in case, to keep the moisture in and the lid closed.

"Get me the needle gun, will you John?" she asked, and I hurried to put down the cotton and grab the gun from a metal table by the wall. The gun is a long metal tube with two fingerholds on the side, like a hypodermic syringe.

"Can I do it this time?"

"Sure," she said, pulling back the body’s cheek and upper lip. "Right here."

I placed the gun gently up against the gums and squeezed, embedding a small needle into the bone. The teeth were long and yellow. We added one more needle to the lower jaw and threaded a wire through them both, then twisted it tight to keep the mouth closed. Margaret smeared sealing cream on a small plastic support, like the peel of an orange wedge, and placed it inside the mouth to hold everything closed.

Once the face was taken care of we arranged the body carefully, straightening the legs and folding the arms across the chest in the classic "I’m dead" pose. Once the formaldehyde gets into the muscles, they seize up and go rigid. You have to set the features first thing, so the family doesn’t have a misshapen corpse at the viewing.

"Hold her head," said Margaret, and I obediently put a hand on each side of the corpse’s head to keep it steady. Margaret probed with her fingers a bit, just above the right collarbone, and then sliced a long, shallow line in the hollow of the old woman’s neck. It’s almost bloodless when you cut a corpse. Because the heart’s not pumping, there’s no blood pressure, and gravity pulls all the blood down into the body’s back. Because this one had been dead longer than usual, the chest was limp and empty while the back was nearly purple, like a giant bruise. Margaret reached into the hole with a small metal hook and pulled out two big veins—well, technically an artery and a vein—and looped a string around each one. They were purple and slick, two dark loops that pulled out of the body a few inches, and then slipped back in. Margaret turned to prepare the pump.

Most people don’t realize how many different chemicals embalmers use, but the first thing that catches your eye is not how many there are, but how many different colors they are. Each bottle—the formaldehyde, the anticoagulants, the cauter-ants, the germicides, the conditioners, and others—has its own bright color, like fruit juice. The row of embalming fluids looks like the syrup flavors at a sno-cone stand. Margaret chose her chemicals carefully, like she was choosing ingredients for a soup. Not every body needed every chemical, and figuring out the right recipe for a given corpse was as much an art as a science. While she worked on that, I let go of the head and picked up the scalpel. They didn’t always let me make incisions, but if I did it while they weren’t watching, I could usually get away with it. I was good at it, too, which helped.

The artery Margaret had pulled out would be used to pump the body full of the chemical cocktail she was making; as they filled the body, the old fluids, like blood and water, would be pushed out the exposed vein and into a drain tube, and from there into the floor. I had been surprised to find out that it all just goes into the sewer system, but really—where else would it go? It’s no worse than anything else down there. I held the artery steadily and cut slowly across it, careful not to sever it completely. When the hole was ready, I grabbed the canula—a curved metal tube—and slipped the narrow end into the opening. The artery was rubbery, like a thin hose, and covered with tiny fibers of muscle and capillary. I laid the metal tube gently on the chest and made a similar cut in the vein, this time inserting a drain pipe, which connected to a long coil of clear plastic tubing that snaked down into a drain in the floor. I cinched tight the strings Margaret had looped around each vein, sealing them shut.

"That looks good," said Margaret, pushing the pump over to the table. It was on wheels to keep it out of the way, but now it took its place of honor in the center of the room while Margaret connected the main hose to the canula I’d placed in the artery. She studied the seal briefly, nodded at me in approval, and poured the first chemical—a bright orange anticoagulant to break up clots—into the tank on top of the pump. She pushed a button and the pump jerked sleepily to life, syncopated like a real heartbeat, and she watched it carefully while she fiddled with the knobs that controlled pressure and speed. The pressure in the body normalized quickly, and soon dark, thick blood was disappearing into the sewer.

"How’s school?" Margaret asked, peeling off a rubber glove to scratch her head.

"It’s only been a couple of days," I said. "Not a lot happens in the first week."

"It’s the first week of high school, though," said Margaret. "That’s pretty exciting, isn’t it?"

"Not especially," I said.

The anticoagulant was almost gone, so Margaret poured a bright blue conditioner into the pump to help get the blood vessels ready for the formaldehyde. She sat down. "Meet any new friends?"

"Yeah," I said. "A whole new school moved into town over the summer, so miraculously I’m not stuck with the same people I’ve known since kindergarten. And of course, they all wanted to make friends with the weird kid. It was pretty sweet."

"You shouldn’t make fun of yourself like that," she said.

"Actually, I was making fun of you."

"You shouldn’t do that either," said Margaret, and I could tell by her eyes that she was grinning slightly. She stood back up to add more chemicals to the pump. Now that the first two chemicals were on their way through the body, she began mixing the true embalming fluid—a moisturizer and a water softener to keep the tissues from swelling, preservatives and germicides to keep the body in good condition (well, as good as it could be at this point), and dye to give it a rosy, lifelike glow. The key to it all, of course, is formaldehyde, a strong poison that kills everything in the body, hardens the muscles, pickles the organs, and does all of the actual "embalming." Margaret added a hefty dose of formaldehyde, followed by thick green perfume to cover the pungent aroma. The pump tank was a swirly pot of brightly colored goop, like the slush machine at a gas station. Margaret clamped down the lid and ushered me out the back door; the fan wasn’t good enough to risk being in the room with that much formaldehyde. It was fully dark outside now, and the town had gone almost silent. I sat on the back step while Margaret leaned against the wall, watching through the open door in case anything went wrong.

"Do you have any homework yet?" she asked.

"I have to read the introductions of most of my textbooks over the weekend, which of course everybody always does, and I have to write an essay for my history class."

Margaret looked at me, trying to be nonchalant, but her lips were pressed tightly together and she started blinking. I knew from long association that this meant something was bothering her.

"Did they assign a topic?" she asked.

I kept my face impassive. "Major figures of American history."

"So . . . George Washington? Or maybe Lincoln."

"I already wrote it."

"That’s great," she said, not really meaning it. She paused a moment longer, then dropped her pretense. "Do I have to guess, or are you going to tell me which of your psychopaths you wrote it on?"

"They’re not ‘my’ psychopaths."

"John . . ."

"Dennis Rader," I said, looking out at the street. "They just caught him a few years ago, so I thought it had a nice ‘current events’ angle."

"John, Dennis Rader is the BTK killer. He’s a murderer. They asked for a great figure, not a—"

"The teacher asked for a major figure, not a great one, so bad guys count," I said. "He even suggested John Wilkes Booth as one of the options."

"There’s a big difference between a political assassin and a serial killer."

"I know," I said, looking back at her. "That’s why I wrote it."

"You’re a really smart kid," said Margaret, "and I mean that. You’re probably the only student that’s already finished with the essay. But you can’t . . . it’s not normal, John. I was really hoping you’d grow out of this obsession with murderers."

Excerpted from I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells.

Copyright 2009 by Dan Wells.

Published in April 2010 by Tom Doherty Associates.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 152 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 153 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 31, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Prepare for Severe Novelistic Whiplash

    Let's clear up what the book is about at the get-go. It is about a teenage sociopath with psychopathic tendencies who is trying hard to contain the monster within him. Then he comes up against a real monster that at first he believes is a serial killer but that turns out to be a demon that kills for self-preservation. What eventually kills the monster? The same as killed King Kong: love. If you are looking for a strictly serial killer novel, look elsewhere. Try any of these first-rate serial killer novels: Fowles, THE COLLECTOR (a classic, a career launcher); Thompson's THE KILLER INSIDE ME (maybe the ultimate noir novel of all time); Oates, ZOMBIE (terrific, gory and compelling); Valentino, I, KILLER (probing, compassionate romp through the mind of a tormented killer racing to his death). As for I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, the first seven chapters are very good. Wells has synthesized the literature on serial killers into a compelling character. He fictionalizes his knowledge well, integrating what is known about sociopaths and psychopathic killers (not to mention mortuary science) into the fabric of the story -- unlike some authors who interrupt the flow of the story to expound on the psychology of the killer. It's the balance of the book that is problematic. From young serial killer trying to control the monster within him, the novel transitions abruptly into a supernatural tale. As you read, you have visions of FRIGHT NIGHT, of a twist on vampire fare. Wells inflicts novelistic whiplash upon you. I've given it three stars for the excellent writing and the really top-rate first seven chapters. But if you prefer the realm of reality, try the other novels I've recommended.

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 27, 2011

    Couldnt stop reading!!

    This is one of the best books i have ever read! I could not put it down! I was reading it every chance I had! Never a boring or dull moment reading this thrilling book! Its darkness and suspense made the book so good! It's a must read! Read this book, you won't regret it!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    exciting Teen-lit thriller

    In Clayton, fifteen year old John Wayne Cleaver has helped his mom and his aunt at the family run mortuary for years. He is surrounded by corpses so death means little to him, which makes it difficult for John to sympathize with the mourners.

    However, the human predators who cause death fascinate and frighten him. Concerned he may become a serial killer one day as he admires these psychopaths, he sees a shrink and has established rigid rules that he totally adheres to. A loner by nurture, he prefers the dead to the living as they demand nothing as opposed to their relatives demanding miraculous cosmetics. When a sliced up body parts arrive at the mortuary, even John is taken aback. When more carved up corpses are found, John investigates as he wants to meet his first serial killer in person though this also means he bends his rules for the first time.

    John holds the tale together as he constantly reminds himself that: "I am not a serial killer" though surrounded by death. He is a captivating unique lead character as is his mom and aunt. Teen-lit fans will relish his mantra and amateur sleuthing, as he investigates while also mindful of not crossing the line.

    Harriet Klausner

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2014

    Loved it

    I am an avid reader two to three books a week. Since I was 13 I am now pushing 60. I have read every type of novel written from Erma Bombeck to Charlie Chaplins autobiographay . From Steven King to Ellery Queen and Victoria Holt. The Kent family Chronicles, and Roots to Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, and Michael Jordan. From Ann Rule to Andy Rooney. As well as some self help books the best so far was "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff And It's All Small Stuff" also worth a read is "Raising your children with love and logic" . I have wanted to let you know that I am one of those people who's taste in subject matter is wide and varied because of the reviews that some readers were disappointed. They were disappointed because Dan Wells the author of this wonderful exciting novel that is full of factual details about the mind of pycho killers as well as the details of the embalming process (which we never get from) Patricia Cornwell Mr. Wells drifted his novel from facts to fantasy. I was not surprised or disappointed. This is a fictional novel. I also love sci-fi, and fantasy. This novel is a fictional story by an author of another series about the end of our world. This series also has a touch of fantasy. What I'm trying to get across is that Dan Wells is a great story teller but if you want a book with facts or just factual ideas you will not be a fan of the Dan Wells novels that he has published so far. They are all well done and if you love good fantasy like I do or just a good story Dan Wells is well worth your time and money. Keep writing Mr. Wells. Please. I will purchase them all. Thank you for the hours of excitement, suspense, and yes a little bit of fear, and yes even joy that you have given me with your words.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2011

    Does everything right

    A friend lent me all three books, and I loved them so much I decided to write this review. Dan Wells really does his research, even more than you may realize just from the book. Can't wait to read more from him. John can be horrifying at one point, and heartwarming the next. The relationships between the characters are dynamic and believable. If you like a good thriller with a supernatural twist, then look no further.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2011

    Great quick read. Very entertaining!

    I love John Wayne Cleaver. This book was engaging and at times, laugh out loud funny. After finishing it, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Mr. Monster.

    It was easy to get caught up in the lives of Clayton County residents and i kept thinking that having grown up in a small town, I've met, at one time or another, every one of the characters - including John. It was like going home for a visit. Loved it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2010

    Welcome Break

    I just recently graduated from college and randomly chose this book while perusing the store. As a recent graduate, this book was WONDERFUL for a multitude of reasons. First of all, it was an easy read; I found myself unable to put it down! Being a psychology major, I thought the protagonist's level of personal insight was astounding and I found myself just wanting to keep turning the pages to see what other insightful thoughts John Wayne Cleaver had to offer to the reader. Even better was finishing the book and realizing it was part of a trilogy! I can't wait for the two other novels to come out. I don't frequently recommend books to others, but I've definitely recommended this one!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2014


    and long, repetitive and not scarey

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2014

    Gripping novel that you won't want to put down!

    I had read Dan Wells dystopian series (Partials and Fragmants-- Ruins to come out in March 2014), and decided to give his other trilogy a try. The protagonist is a fascinating character and Wells gives incredible detail into the boy's psyche. For an almost 500 page book, it's a very quick read because you don't want to put it down. There is a twist you won't expect that will keep you riveted. Highly recommend and am looking forward to reading book #2 in this series, Mr. Monster.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2013


    This book was cool until it went supernatural. I was instantly angry when John's neighbor sprouted horns and demon claws and began killing people. What a stupid book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A wonderful thriller without the hack and slash gore of most thrillers

    I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER was a great book about John Wayne Cleaver, our protagonist, and his struggles with the fact that he might be a sociopath and, even worse, he could become a serial killer.

    The best part about Dan Wells' first novel is the change of genre that occurs roughly midway through the book that offers its own unique twist, that at first, seems a little awkward but eventually it makes complete sense.

    This thriller isn't your typical hack and slash melodrama but a unique unfolding of a great story. I can't wait for the next book in this trilogy to be published.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2015


    Great read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2014


    L loop0

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2014

    I LOVED IT! It is a horror that totally made me think of Dexter!

    I LOVED IT! It is a horror that totally made me think of Dexter! And Dan Wells has the kind of talent that makes me jealous and happy all at the same time!

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  • Posted October 11, 2013

    Good, solid read but end differently than it started

    This is a solid read. It has a good level of suspense and the main character is extremely well done. The main character alone makes this book worth reading.

    The book does, however, progress from a murder mystery novel to more of a supernatural horror novel. This may bother some readers and was minor mistake by Mr. Wells in writing the book. I don't fully buy into the genre classification system for books, so the genre switch that occurs about 100 pages in did not bother me.

    Overall, this book does deserve five stars for the main character, plot and entertainment value, even if the author made a few forgivable flubs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2013


    I loved this book. The main character John is hard to relate to, but great to watch in action. The ending was awesome.

    John Cleaver proves that just because you have all of the predictors for becoming a serial killer, does not mean you have to be one. His attention to detail and his specialized rules for himself were very intriguing. Getting to know him was scary and exciting. The ending was intense and a bit sad.

    I have an interest in real life serial killers. (BTW I am not a serial killer.) I have read many true crime and criminal profiling books. The author has done his research for this character! Well played!

    Highly recommended. (I do not personally know the author. Nor was I solicited for this review.) I really liked this book. I bought the next two books because this one was so fast paced, tense, and enjoyable. I read it in two sittings without much sleep.



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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2013


    Took me by surpise but not sure if i liked it or not.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2013


    I thought it was good. Dont know who came first, John or Dexter.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013

    Great, but distrubing book

    I started out reading this expecting it to be like most horror novels, unrealistic and therefore not very scary. After reading this, however, I found myself becoming truly scared and distrubed, mostly because it had some very real elements to it. In short, this is a book not to read on a dark night, believe me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012


    I agree with the review below: it abruptly becomes a supernatural tale. I LOVED it, though! I loved how Wells writes about the protagonist's thought processes and how he comes to conclusions and plans his actions. This book was one of the most wonderful books I have ever read!

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