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The Hunter    by John Lescroart order for
by John Lescroart
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Readers first encountered San Francisco private investigator Wyatt Hunt in 2006 in John Lescroart's The Hunt Club. Now the author delves into the PI's back story in this gripping psychological thriller, The Hunter.

Wyatt was adopted into a loving family, and has never pursued information on his birth family. He has a good life, though he's always been reluctant to commit to a relationship and, in fact has just broken up with his latest partner, Gina Roake. But he has good friends, from his work employees (and especially 'his receptionist/secretary/assistant Tamara Dade') to San Francisco homicide cop Devin Juhle.

Out of the blue, Wyatt receives an anonymous text message, 'How did your mother die?' He starts looking for answers, leading to a meeting with a priest, who passes him a letter left by his birth father. Wyatt's mother was murdered and his father accused of the crime. Though not convicted, he gave up his son for adoption and disappeared. In the letter, Wyatt's father tells him that he did not kill his mother.

Wyatt keeps on digging, not only into the murder and his father's whereabouts, but into the identity of the individual who continues to text him. He has questions about the death of the police officer involved in his mother's murder investigation. And he learns that his mother's friend Evie was 'a fundamentallist, cult-following religious nutcase' who later died with her kids and Jim Jones at Jonestown.

The pressure increases when one of Wyatt's investigators is killed while looking into the case. Wyatt suffers terrible nightmares as he begins to recover childhood memories. He starts to fall apart, but fortunately Tamara is there for him, and they grow close as they pursue leads to Indianapolos and then to Mexico.

Though the case itself - with its cult resonances - is well plotted and intriguing, what I liked most about the story was John Lescroart's empathetic portrayal of the anguish and breakdown that can result from the recovery of repressed memories. If you're looking for a great mystery with strong characterization to start the New Year with, you won't go wrong with The Hunter.

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