Book Review: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Killer InstinctBind them. Brand them. Cut them. Hang them.

Cassie and the gang return in the wake of the Lacey Locke case only to be thrown into a University serial murder. A young student is found dead on the hood of a car on display on the principal’s lawn. Her wrists are bound, she’s branded, lacerations about the body and nylon rope around her neck.

Only, this murder seems familiar. Especially to Dean… Bind them. Brand them. Cut them. Hang them. A mantra used by his father describing his own MO in the Redding serial murders of a dozen young women. If you think Lacey Locke (nee Hobbes) was bad, things are about to get much worse.

To pile salt on the wound, Agent Veronica Sterling takes up Agent Locke’s empty spot in the Naturals program. Although her motivations behind the position aren’t what they seem. The sequel to The Naturals was bigger, better and more twisted.

I enjoyed this one more than the first. I wasn’t kidding when I said things were bigger, better and more twisted. In KI Cassie and Dean dig and claw their way into the mind of Dean’s father, Daniel Redding, and reopen old wounds for Dean. Naturally this takes a toll on Lia as well, being Dean’s only family left. A lot about the Naturals themselves comes to light and they all undergo some needed growth.

However, I would have liked to see some kind of advancement in their abilities. Cassie and Dean’s profiling, Lia’s deception, Michael’s emotion reading and Sloane’s statistics are all learned abilities and I’m sure they can be taken to the next level. Whatever level that is. It seems only fair that as they learn and grow older, their gifts will grow with them. No?

We also get a lot of information about Agent Briggs’ and Judd’s past, brought on by the introduction of Agent Locke’s replacement, Veronica Sterling. And after this book I wholeheartedly agree that Sterling needs to stay.

The mystery in this book revolves around the murder of a young girl on a university campus. And JLB does a great job with this one. All through the book I thought I knew who the killer was, after getting used to her style from book one, but those plot twists man. To me, they didn’t feel forced or convenient. After a little stretching things all fell into perfect place. And there was even an instance where I closed the book one night to get to bed and I felt haunted by the wit and cleverness of our antagonist. And his mantra.

Killer Instinct is a great follow up to The Naturals. Other than the lack of growth in their abilities, I wished we got at least one new Natural. Just to help shake up the group dynamic even further. But alas, what’s done is done. The third and final book, All In, is set to be released this year on November 3rd. As much as I love the anticipation of new releases, the waiting period is a huge bitch.

– GJA

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