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There are a lot of serial killer suspense novels around - it's quite an active sub-genre. This one echoes a lot of those already out there but sadly offers nothing new.

The killer is targetting women and taking trophies from them. The detective has anger problems and is regarded as a maverick albeit a gifted one. He is linked with a psychotherapist who is supposed to be treating him but is easily diverted and ends up assisting with the investigation by profiling the killer (and ultimately becoming a target herself). There is a lot of pressure to find the killer whose identity is not known to the reader. I could easily name a number of books which also have these themes but which handle them in a more original way.

The characters are not well delineated. The detective is a stereotype and the psychotherapist seems to be lacking depth. There are no good minor characters to add extra sub-plots. This novel is about telling the story rather than developing a relationship with its characters.

The story is told in a straightforward style in a lot of short chapters. It is well paced and certainly moves along quickly. The story is engaging enough but it lacks depth or texture and it is certainly short of that little something which might raise it above the average in this sub-genre. It's an OK read but not particularly distinguished in any way - I won't make an effort to seek out any sequels.
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on 7 September 2010
'Stunning debut', 'brilliant debut', 'great debut' - just some of the review phrases that persuaded me to give this new writer a try. It's safe to say that I wasn't disappointed. 'American Devil' is packed full of great material and Stark has great control of it.

If you love your crime thrillers, then you'll certainly enjoy this gripping ride. But there are also plenty of intelligent and original touches to make it feel fresh. This really is a remarkable novel, especially considering it is Stark's first. So I'll just add 'cracking debut' to the list.
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on 21 September 2011
I must admit to being a bit disappointed with this book, maybe there was too much hype behind it.
It starts off well though, the plot involves a serial killer operating in New York and a driven cop involved in the hunt to find him.
As the book went on however I felt the author lost his grip on the story and his writing became a bit cliched.
Like a lot of first time authors he threw too much into the book, the plot twists a bit too much and at over 500 hundred pages it is too long.
However there is also a lot to enjoy here.
Using the short chapter format means the pace is kept high throughout and there is no doubt it's a very readable book.
I would probably put this in the category of a holiday read, entertaining and not very demanding but having said that I would certainly consider buying the sequel.
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VINE VOICEon 3 December 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
It's true that there's little that is new here - serial killer novels are pretty common - but it's very well written and kept me on the edge of my seat.
I would say that this is a perfect "sunlounger" read so, if you can buy this and put it away until your next holiday so much the better for you !

The plot involves Tom Harper a maverick cop, Nick/Sebastian our serial killer and Denise Levene the psychologist who brings them together.
The novel is set in New York City at the beginning of winter. All characters are well drawn and the plot is convincing.
I eagerly await Mr Stark's next novel which I shall definitely buy

Fives stars without question
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on 14 September 2010
I bought American Devil on a friend's recommendation and as soon as I started it I was completely gripped. The superbly creepy prologue draws the reader straight into the mind of the killer and his twisted view of the world, before Chapter 1 plunges you into the police procedure and internal politics of the NYPD. The author uses these alternate viewpoints throughout the book, to great effect: I was totally drawn in to the cat-and-mouse game that the killer plays with his pursuers. And the story is brilliantly plotted, full of unexpected twists and turns which I couldn't see coming at all but in which in retrospect were expertly set up.

I found the killer's psychology disturbingly convincing: we get to understand his motivations and the twisted rationale for his murders. And I thought the characters of Tom Harper, the lead detective, and Denise Levene, the psychologist and profiler, were stunningly well drawn. We are given just the right amount of backstory about each of them - enough to make them into rounded characters, but with enough mystery to keep them intriguing. Their relationship, both professional and personal, is at the heart of the book, and I'm delighted that American Devil is the first in a series featuring Harper and Levene, because I can't wait to find out how the chemistry between them develops in subsequent books.

American Devil is extremely well written, with a great sense of place - the New York setting is vividly real. The prose contains some strikingly original images, there are wonderful flashes of wit in the dialogue and some thought-provoking observations about human behaviour. But, above all, this is a page-turning, edge-of-your-seat, unputdownable, white-knuckle read.
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on 1 May 2016
i class myself as an avid reader. going through at lest 1 book a week. always have done since i started going away to sea when i was 14 back in 1954. not much else to do in them days. but i at least saw the world in a job i loved. ok. to me this writer has got to be one of the best writers i have ever read. from the first page he grabs you. 'i had better warn you' for once you have started its very hard to put the book down. the way he describes, the police procedure's. and what the murderer has done. 'be warned' you feel as if you are there with them. living where i do. i have sent away for his 2nd book. i hope he has more to come. i am looking forward to it very much.
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on 6 December 2011
Loved this book. A truly gripping page turner. I can't wait for more from Stark. As good (if not better) than Karin Slaughter. Thoroughly recommended to fellow serial killer / gruesome crime readers.
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on 1 December 2012
Excellent book that draws you in straight away so you do not want to put it down. As I am always busy working i like the short chapters so you can read a small amount at a time when required.
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on 20 March 2011
5 stars do not do this book justice! Great plot and characterisation. If you like crime fiction then this is for you. (There are a couple of lame bits in this book - namely when the books' namesake battles against the persona of Sebastian (he has a split personality) but overall the plot is so good that this can be forgiven. If you like Patterson, Rose, Gerritsen etc you should love this!
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VINE VOICEon 29 September 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Brilliant NYPD Detective Tom Harper is called back from suspension after clocking another cop to catch the American Devil.

This isn't bad, although it does contain just about every serial killer cliche known to fiction, and I found it a reasonable page turner for much of its length. Plotwise it's reasonably compelling, but really it's let down by its characters or should I say lack of characterisation.Even the two central characters, Harper and psychologist/profiler Denise Levene are very underwritten, but some of the other characters, Harper's partner, for example, seem to scarcely exist at all - they're too often just ciphers who are given a line of dialogue to move the action along.People have names, but that's about it, some get a sketchy description,but Stark fails dismally to bring anyone to life.A good writer can create character simply through dialogue, but Stark isn't yet anywhere near that good.However, the book is very plot driven and if you can get over the fact that you don't care about any of the characters then it's not a bad little potboiler,although like so many books nowadays it often reads more like a padded out screenplay than a novel.It also appears not to have been proof read at all.Several times I found myself re-reading sections,because I just didn't understand what had been written.At first I thought it was me, but then I realised that nobody had bothered to edit out the frequent mistakes.For example, Harper rushes into the police station and calls his partner on the phone, but in the next sentence manages to pat him on the shoulder, and it's not actually even the shoulder, it's the "shouldler".

Books like this really need to be compelling with cliffhanger chapter endings that constantly leave you wanting to read more. Unfortunately, I found that ten pages or so at a time were more than enough. I was happy to pick it up again, but never felt the urge to just sit down with it for a few hours and lose myself in its world, probably because Stark fails to create a world that feels real.Would I recommend it? Well, certainly not over a book by someone like Michael Connelly,but I've read a lot worse in this genre.
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