An Evil Mind

Written by Chris Carter

Review written by Philip Gooden

His historical novels include the Nick Revill series, set in Elizabethan London, a Victorian sequence, and a series of Chaucer mysteries, now in in e-books.

An Evil Mind
Simon & Schuster
RRP: £12.99
Released: July 31st, 2014

We’ve been here before.

Just take the lift down to sublevel five in the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where the corridor walls are cinderblock and the lights burn day and night. At the end of the line, waiting in a boxlike cell behind plexiglass is the coolest, calmest serial killer we’ve encountered since ... well, since Silence of the Lambs.

In fact, it’s amazing that no one in Chris Carter’s An Evil Mind references that earlier book or film. There are other parallels too. An FBI agent, Courtney Taylor, and an LA detective, Robert Hunter, interrogate Lucien Folter. While Taylor has some minor ‘issues’, quickly disposed of, Detective Hunter  -  who’s been personally requested by the serial killer (never a good sign)  -  has even more vulnerable spots and Achilles’ heels than Clarice Starling. For a start, it turns out that the man behind the plexiglass is his best friend from college where they both studied criminal psychology. Then it seems that, although Hunter may not have laid eyes on Folter for years, the reverse isn’t true, and that the serial killer has been taking a very active interest in Hunter’s world.

To say much more would be to spoil the surprises that Carter springs through the novel, since the bite-sized chapters tend to end with a twist or mini-cliff-hanger. 

Most of An Evil Mind is devoted to the mind-games between the interrogators and Folter, with occasional trips into the field to retrieve a few more remains or the odd flashback to a murder from the killer’s POV. Folter is very bad, a point underlined by some gruesome details, and also by the character himself who repeatedly stresses how wicked and unfeeling he is. So it’s alarming to read in a front note that most of the characters are based on people the author met while working as a criminal psychologist (I hope he’s talking about the good guys).  

The characters in An Evil Mind are pretty much cardboard and the style clichéd  -  I lost count of the number of times eyes went cold or blood boiled  -  but those twists and cliff-hangers make it quite hard to put down.

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