Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. After-school job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick.
Because she might be one herself.
Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals and delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder, but with each visceral rush, the line of self-control blurs. And when a young preschool teacher goes missing—and returns in pieces—Lane gets a little too excited about tracking down “the Decapitator,” the vicious serial murderer who has come to her hometown.
As she gets dangerously caught up in a web of lies about her own past, Lane realizes she is no longer invisible or safe. Especially after the Decapitator contacts her directly. Now she needs to use her unique talents to find the true killer’s identity before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim…
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I STUDY SERIAL KILLERS. THEY’RE loners. Obsessive-compulsives. People who lack emotion and fantasize about violence. Intelligent people who on the outside seem normal.
Interesting thing is, I fit that profile. I have urges. I plot ways to violently make people pay for what they’ve done to others.
Nature versus nurture. Of course I’ve studied that. I’ve got good parents with decent genetics, so for me I’ve always suspected it’s something else. Except . . . I have no clue what.
I don’t know why I am the way I am, why I think the way I think, why I do the things I do. All I know is that I’m different. Always have been. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know something was off in me.
At ten, when other kids were coloring with crayons, I started tracking serial killers and keeping details of their murders in a journal—a journal no one has ever seen but me.
Now, nearly seven years later, most teens hang out with friends. I, however, prefer spending my spare time at the courthouse—with Judge Penn to be exact. He tries all the hard cases.
His staff expects to see me, believing my lie about wanting to go into law, and so I give my customary nod as I enter the back of Penn’s court and quietly take my usual spot in the left rear corner. I sit down and get out my summer reading just in case today’s calendar is boring.
A balding, short, pudgy, accountant-type man sits beside a slick lawyer he’s obviously spent a lot of money on. The Weasel is what I decide to name him.
In the viewing gallery sit a handful of women; three are crying and two stoically stare straight ahead.
On the stand is another of the expressionless ones, and she’s speaking, “. . . classical music, a candle. He knew his way around, like he’d been in my house before. He handcuffed my ankles and wrists to the bedposts and stuffed gauze in my mouth so my screams couldn’t be heard. He cut my clothes away and left me naked. He wore a condom and was clean shaven, everywhere. He had a full-face mask on.”
“He raped me,” she matter-of-factly reports, and then describes in detail all the vicious ways he violated her.
“I’m going to be sick,” the woman in front of me whispers before getting up and leaving the room.
I continue listening to the details, mentally cataloging them. Details don’t bother me. They don’t make me sick. They don’t make me want to leave a room. If anything they draw me in because they are just that—details, facts.
A few of the women in the room sniffle, and I glance to the Weasel. Although he’s doing a good job of keeping his emotions blank, I catch a slight smirk on his lips that kicks my pulse.
This is one of the things I consider a talent of mine. While some people show every emotion, I show none. And I can read others’ body language, others’ faces when they think they’re doing a stellar job of masking. The Weasel obviously thinks he’s getting away with something.
Thirty minutes later the Weasel is found not guilty due to lack of evidence. As he walks from the court room, his slight smirk becomes more visible when he glances at one of the sniffling women.
This is another thing people make the mistake of—confidence, cockiness, ego.
The Weasel will rape again. Of this I’m sure.
If it is my destiny to be a killer, I’m going to need a type. And today decides that my type will be criminals—specifically, those who have managed to avoid punishment.
I turn seventeen next week. The Weasel will be my birthday present to myself. I think I’ve just found my first victim.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss.) 17-year-old Lane has a thing for serial killers, and hopes to be one herself one day, so when the ‘Decapitator’ strikes in the place where she lives, her curiosity is piqued. Who is the Decapitator? And is Lane really suited to a life of crime? This was an interesting story, even if it wasn’t quite what I expected. Lane was an interesting character, but she did come across as a bit weird. To be honest I personally would expect someone who wants to murder people to be weird though, so Lane felt like the right sort of character for the role. She was very methodical, liked details, and obviously had a real thirst for blood, but she did show herself to be human when it came to actually committing murder, when she suddenly wasn’t quite so sure of herself. The storyline in this was pretty interesting, with both Lane’s after-school activities, as well as a serial killer on the loose. I did find that the story dragged a bit though, as I wanted to know what was going on a lot quicker than we actually found out. There was some romance, although Lane’s strange methodical nature applied to losing her virginity was a bit cold and calculated! The ending to this was quite interesting, and I didn’t guess who the killer was. I did find the identity of the killer quite surprising though, as the evidence that Lane had collected had been leading her in quite a different direction. Overall; good YA mystery story, but it dragged a bit, 7 out of 10.
Well done first of a series. Even if this is about a teenager adults will enjoy . It takes awhile to get into the heroine but think equalizer with sociopathic tendencies . In the end you will root for her.
Killer Instinct is such a good read! It’s fast paced and keeps you on your toes the entire time. After the first few paragraphs I said to myself, “S.E. Green must love shows like Criminal Minds because this could seriously be an episode on the show.” Lane, the main character, is struggling with herself throughout the novel because she finds herself so intrigued by serial killers and thinks she might want to become one someday. To curb her desire of homicide, she becomes a kind of vigilante of sorts. Lane finds people who have done wrong and gotten away with it and takes matters into her own hands. All the while trying to be a normal teenager and blend in because she knows very well that she is anything but normal. Lane is also quite emotionless throughout the novel, another typical sign that someone could potentially become a killer, however even though she lacks emotion I was never bored with the book, which I found interesting. She becomes this vigilante to control her urges to kill but a notorious serial killer, the Decapitator, keeps taunting her killer instinct with photos and videos of his kills, making her more fascinated by the act of killing. Throughout the entire novel you are trying to figure out who the Decapitator is, I know I was. I had my guess two chapters into the book and thought I was going to be right, I was so sure of it. Then, the big reveal happened and I was utterly shocked. Not just because I was wrong but because of the true identity of the murderer. If you enjoy mystery novels I would definitely pick this one up for your next read!