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The Death Collectors Hardcover – June 23, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: Carson Ryder (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; 1ST edition (June 23, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525948775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525948773
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,955,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The promise shown in Kerley's first book, The Hundredth Man, is borne out in the second in the series featuring Mobile, Ala., PD detectives Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus. Carson and Harry are the department's psychopathological and sociopathological investigative team, nicknamed Piss-it by the other detectives. When a naked female body buried beneath flowers and surrounded by candles is found in a seedy motel, the crime is weird enough to be assigned to them. More bodies turn up, each accompanied by a tiny but beautiful oil painting. Retired police detective Jacob C. Willow hears of the murder/painting connection and tells Carson he thinks it has something to do with a serial killer case he worked early in his career. That madman, Marsden Hexcamp, has been dead for years, but a peculiar group of collectors specializing in murder memorabilia is keeping his memory alive. Carson is aided once again by his brilliant, homicidal brother, Jeremy, who, though held in a high-security insane asylum, proves instrumental in solving the case. Jeremy is a terrifying character, and we just know he's going to escape someday, at which point Kerley will truly scare the pants off his readers. This one's another winner from a writer moving toward the top of the thriller heap.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Marsden Hexcamp was murdered in a courtroom 30 years ago by one of his devoted acolytes. It wasn't considered a tragedy. Hexcamp, who would surely have been sentenced to death for a series of grisly murders, painted pictures depicting the crimes he committed, and these "works of art" have become extraordinarily valuable with underground collectors. Mobile, Alabama, police detectives Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus infiltrate this macabre art world to find clues for a series of contemporary murders that suggest Marsden's handiwork, both in their details and because the killer is leaving behind small pieces of Marsden's art. Assisting Ryder and Nautilus in their investigation, as he did in The Hundredth Man, last year's well-received series debut, is Carson's brother, Jeremy, himself an institutionalized serial killer, who both provides his brother an entree into the world of serial-killer memorabilia and--a la Hannibal Lecter--offers insight into the mind of a killer. A genuinely creepy journey into madmen and their devoted followers. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 34 customer reviews
Kerley's writing style is a mixture of black humor and hard-boiled detective-speak.
E. Bukowsky
I was disappointed that I read the second book first, but I am looking forward to reading the first book, and then the third in the series.
Yolanda S. Bean
Kerley has created great characters, an excellent sense of place, and wonderful dialogue.
L. J. Roberts

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In Jack Kerley's new novel, "The Death Collectors," Alabama Detectives Harry Nautilus and Carson Ryder are the recipients of the Mobile Police Department's "Officers of the Year" award. Nautilus and Ryder are the sole members of the MPD'S elite PSIT (Psychopathological and Sociopathological Investigative Team); they are considered to be experts on psychologically deranged serial killers. Ironically, this award is destined to bring these two men more grief than satisfaction.

Nautilus and Ryder get to use their special skills when the exhumed body of a murdered woman is found in a seedy motel room surrounded by candles and flowers. Other dead bodies soon follow, and pieces of bizarre artwork connect these cases to a serial killer named Marsden Hexcamp. Hexcamp, who himself was killed over thirty years ago, was a self-proclaimed artist with a Manson-like following. Why is a dead man's artwork showing up now and how is it related to these new killings?

Kerley's writing style is a mixture of black humor and hard-boiled detective-speak. The author vividly describes the beautiful Alabama coastal setting and he delineates his characters well. Besides the two leads, other notable personalities include DeeDee Danbury, a beautiful, cheeky, and aggressive television reporter, Jacob Willow, an elderly former Alabama detective who cracked the Hexcamp case in the early seventies, and Trey Forrier, a French artist who is incarcerated in the same mental institution as Jeremy, Carson's serial killer brother.

Carson and Harry interview a motley crew of individuals, some of whom are known as "death collectors," because of their penchant for collecting serial killer memorabilia.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. A. KONRATH VINE VOICE on June 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
With his second novel, Kerley proves his thrilling debut THE HUNDREDTH MAN wasn't a fluke.

Alabama PSIT Detective Carson Ryder is back. He's a likeable hero; self-depricating, determined, and smart, with enough of a sense of humor to help take the edge off of the horrors he witnesses.

His insane, incarcerated brother Jeremy is again called upon to help Carson catch a killer, and their scenes together are among the best in the book. I've read reviews comparing the motif to Silence of the Lambs (the hero consulting the serial slayer), but in my opinion Jeremy is a much more believable and compelling psychopath than Hannibal Lecter. Creatures like Hannibal (the brilliant but insane psychiatrist) don't really exist. Creatures like Jeremy do exist, and there's a strange repulsion/attraction when reading about him.

Great suspense, solid characters, and a nail-biter finale, all revolving around a very unusual group of collectors. First rate all the way. I expect that Kerley will be around for a long, long time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It would be inaccurate to say that THE DEATH COLLECTORS by Jack Kerley fulfills the promise of the talent that was so vividly demonstrated in his debut novel, THE HUNDREDTH MAN. That riveting work, told in a strong, confident narrative and peopled with quietly unforgettable characters, demonstrated a well of talent that obviously ran deep and strong. THE DEATH COLLECTORS reaffirms that demonstration, not only by magnifying the strengths of its predecessor but by ultimately surpassing them, mixing a memorable protagonist with a host of quirky and occasionally unsettling supporting characters in a work where the present and the past collide with terrifying results.

THE DEATH COLLECTORS marks the welcome return of Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus, the sum total of the Mobile, Alabama Police Department's Psychopathological and Sociopathological Investigative Team (PSIT). On the surface Ryder and Nautilus are a mismatch, yet their respective zigs and zags interlock them perfectly. Their PSIT work, alas, only involves one percent of their caseload. But when a woman is found brutally murdered at a by-the-hour hotel, the staged nature of the killing makes it a natural for their investigation.

The men soon discover that the murder, and others that follow, bear an eerie link to Marsden Hexcamp, a homicidal Pied Piper who led a sheeplike troop of followers on a homicidal rampage through the Gulf Coast over thirty years previously. Hexcamp has been dead for three decades, yet he almost seems to be directing the new murders from his grave. The trail leads Ryder and Nautilus to a missing attorney with an apparent link to the murders, as well as to a number of eerie individuals involved in the collecting of serial killing memorabilia.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on June 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In 1972 in Mobile Alabama Circuit Court, as he sentences Marden Hexcamp, Judge Penfield does not hide his repulsion for the convicted serial killer, whose trial led to the hospitalization of two jurors with nervous conditions. The Judge makes it clear that the electrocution at Holman Prison will somewhat clean this evil. Marden states that only art is worth living for. However, before he can be escorted out of court, the "Crying Woman", who sat outside the courtroom with a vigil during the trial, pulls out a gun, tells Marden she loves him and kills him before shooting herself to death.

Three decades later Mobile Police Detectives Harry Nautilus and Carson Ryder spend 99% of their time on homicides but the remainder of their work involves the only specialists assigned to the renowned "PISS" squad, the Psychological and Sociological Investigation Team. Currently, they investigate the murder of a hooker; other killings follow. The link appears to be Hexcamp's paintings. Apparently, they, as are other items of famous serial killers, become valuable collectibles; one death collector apparently has crossed the homicide line to obtain the blood memorabilia of his or her diabolical heroes.

This is a weird police procedural that starts with a bang and never slows down while fascinating the audience with the ghoulish memorabilia that THE DEATH COLLECTORS covet. Making what seems a farfetched tale realistic is the recent pack of cards that showcased infamous serial killers and mass murderers that sold rather gruesomely fast. Harry and Carson (NY football Giants fan?) are two solid cops whose PISS case leads to good citizens collecting the macabre. Jack Kerley writes an eye opening grisly dark thriller.

Harriet Klausner
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