John Katzenbach Month #1: In the Heat of the Summer, The Traveler

In the Heat of Summer.

The first novel from John Katzenbach, In The Heat Of The Summer, is an above average read in psychological thrillers. Filled with gruesome murders, shocking twists, and an interesting plot, the book is a perfect recipe for a good movie. The movie, The Mean Season was inspired by this Edgar Award-nominated book. The plot is artistic and masterfully crafted to the last detail. The story is about a serial killer who is terrorizing Miami, by killing a series of random and innocent people. The protagonist of the novel is Malcolm Anderson, a crime reporter. The serial killer contacts Malcolm and describes the crime in details, along with explaining his awful childhood in Vietnam.

The novel was a compelling read, and I particularly enjoyed the era it is set in. Set in a world, where the internet isn’t used as frequently as today, the author carefully maneuvers his work through traditional modes of investigation. There is no phone-tapping by the police, or overnight information sharing or even DNA evidence. The absence of technology has transformed this into a unique novel and it surely has developed a class of itself. The events are organic and believable, with interesting and deep characters that form the heart and soul of the novel. It is a fair realistic portrayal of the world of crime reporting. John Katzenbach’s actual experience as a reputed reporter helps develop this novel to a near perfection. A worthy addition to the serial killer thriller, go for it if you are into this genre.

For a full list of his novels, see John Katzenbach Books.

Book Title – The Traveler

Daring and compulsive, The Traveler is a suspense filled classic from John Katzenbach, who in real life was a reporter for the Miami Herald. The story unfolds in the east coast of the USA, Florida. Mercedes Barren, a jaded detective at the Miami Police Department is sure that an Islamic fundamentalist is behind some gruesome murders, but instinct tells her otherwise. On the other hand, a disgruntled crime photojournalist, who has seen too many murderers, is trying to copycat some of the murders, in the process forcing a young student to document his killings. The two stories intermingle to create an awesome thriller.

The author has brought an expert realism and spine-chilling description to this novel. The real world and the world fiction has been merged skillfully and is worthy of special mention. The symbiosis of shock and thrill is well maintained throughout the novel, till the very end. Dramatic twists and turns, make this a must-read book for every Katzenbach fan. Strictly avoid this is you can’t tolerate gore because a lot of descriptions are of mutilated body parts flying off. The descriptions are not out of place and fit well within the aura, the author tries to create. The book is also filled with catchy creative one-liners, and Katzenbach maintained a nice tone of humor to this dark novel. Not as good as Katzenbach’s new The Analyst, which critics consider his best, The Traveler can be a hard, yet memorable novel. Go for it blindly, even if you are new to Katzenbach.


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