In Killer Instinct, the focus is on Dean or more specifically his serial killer father. I think that’s going to be a recurring theme, each book that unveils more about a certain character. It was Cassie in The Naturals and Dean in this one. The book starts with a murder, one that bears an uncanny resemblance to Dean’s father’s MO. The FBI is sure that he’s involved but don’t know how since he’s currently in prison. The FBI don’t want to involve the Naturals but when Dean’s father insists on meeting him in person in exchange for information, the rest of them also insist on helping. Meanwhile, the love triangle between Cassie, Michael and Dean gets finally resolved but more on that later.
For the most part, the novel works well. The characters are engaging and a certain new character is a welcome addition. This series is told from Cassie’s perspective with the killer’s perspective placed strategically throughout. These looks into the killer’s mind don’t appear often and these insights are a nice way of trying to figure out who it could be. When I read a book like this, I spend the whole time trying to figure out who the culprit is before the characters figure it out (Thank you Agatha Christie) With regard to Killer Instinct, I was wrong the first time but after that I was pretty much on the right track. I was pretty sure who the culprit was and the end proved me right. But it was a still a good and fun read. I just wish we hadn’t spent so much time on Cassie and Dean’s relationship angst. But apart from that, some of the misdirections were cleverly done. And it was a quick read so that was in its favour, Barnes didn’t try to stretch it thankfully.
As far as main characters go, Cassie is ok. I’m not a huge fan of hers because, yes, while she is smart and has good instincts, she gets too easily distracted by her boy troubles. But I liked that she used her head in the end when it really came down to it. I did sometimes wish that she had been more assertive especially when it came to Lia pushing her around. I think she had more spunk in the first book.
Now, onto Dean, the resident brooding extraordinaire. I didn’t warm up to him in The Naturals and it didn’t change in Killer Instinct. I knew from the first book that Cassie was always going to go for him; they always go for the ones who brood and generally give them mixed signals. My problem was that he didn’t let Cassie in or he did and then just as easily shut her out. It was always his choice with no regard to how all this affected her. Plus, he also shut out Lia, the one person he knew trusted him above everyone else he was hurting her deeply.
The rest of the Naturals were fine. I liked Michael from the first book. He was more open to Cassie than she was with him. And he let her know how he felt, he didn’t make her guess or push her around emotionally. And he was so much more fun!!! Ugh, why must they go for the guys who brood? And I hate love triangles because I know that the guy I like is the one who won’t be picked, so I’m always left dissatisfied. I’m doomed!
I actually liked Lia, regardless of the fact that she often gave Cassie a hard time. She was fun and impulsive and she really did not care about what others thought of her. I liked her irreverent attitude. And I also really liked Sloane, for someone who deals almost exclusively in facts and numbers; she was remarkably adept at sensing things that others missed.
Briggs was around but not so much in the spotlight. This time, it was Agent Sterling (a possible allusion to Agent Starling from Silence of the Lambs?) Anyway, she was the new addition to the team, also the resident skeptic. She wasn’t convinced that the program was all that efficient and she was concerned about the kids involved. She was strong, no-nonsense and didn’t let anyone push her around.
Killer Instinct was a good read and I’m curious to know more about the others in the program. I think it might just be Lia. I wish that Cassie had chosen Michael but it’s too late now. Sadly, I still don’t like Dean and I don’t think that’s going to change. But, at least there won’t be anymore needless angst.