San Francisco homicide detective Kevin Russell has arrested serial rapists, murderers, and more sadistic thugs than he could remember. Nothing he has ever accomplished can prepare him for Conjesero, a supernatural serial killer who has been terrorizing the Americas for centuries. Conjesero—a creature with extraordinary intelligence and a vicious nature that has created a trail of bodies from Mexico to San Francisco—has always made law enforcement cower in fear and pretend that he doesn't exist. Only Kevin is willing to stand in its path. His desperation takes him on a journey inside the killer’s twisted world. There is nothing that he is unwilling to do, even if it means making a deal with the devil, to stop Conjesero or die trying.
The cover of the book is good, but not quite good enough to be eye-catching for me. I think the problem might be the coloring in the reflection of the monster. Darker hues might have made it stand out more, or given what we know of the monster in the book, perhaps wings or snakes? This cover also seems to imply to me that there might be some kind of mental split or disagreement between the monster and the man, which actually isn't conveyed in the book.
Conjesero the supernatural serial killer is going to be a mixed bag for me. I'll start with the positives. The author has a great writing voice which is capable of drawing the reader in. The story is an easy read and there are plenty of characters to like in the book-Kevin is charismatic but overworked, Wendy is supportive but also overworked, and the most interesting element in the book for me was Alex, a small boy in the middle of an escalating gang war at school. There are also a great deal of fast-paced action and mystery to keep the reader guessing, at least until the last quarter of the book or so. Who is Conjesero? Why does he want to kill?
With monster-type books there is a danger of following cliche plots. Conjesero is able to avoid this, but at the same time, I wish it had taken more chances, especially with Kevin. I think that could still happen if a sequel was being considered. Without going too far into spoiler territory, in order to discover Conjesero's weakness (something which should have been pretty obvious to try for anyone who has ever seen a monster movie, but I digress) Kevin agrees to do a very bad thing for a Mexican gangster. It would have been great to see him break the law due to this deal, become a bitter man for it, and perhaps have the weight of having to deal with another supernatural creature in a follow up book. Kevin is portrayed as the golden boy of the police department, and he doesn't stray too far from that throughout the book. I would have loved to see him proven wrong more, or have more internal dialogue in his character. Towards the end, Kevin is pretty easy-going about killing the monster in cold blood, something which could forever damage his career as few currently believe his story. He also agrees a little too easily to have his friends help him towards the end, an act which seems to conflict with his 'lone wolf' attitude throughout the book. Like I said he isn't a bad character, but I wish there was some more flaws or internal conflict to help flesh him out a bit more.
I have to mention that there is also a lot of stilted or repetitive dialogue in the book, which seemed more noticeable to me in the first twenty pages or so. Given more practice and decent editing this issue can be fixed in future novels.
FINAL GRADE: 3 out of 5. Overall, I really think this author can write a standout book. A little more risk-taking and editing would elevate his future books from 'good' to 'amazing'.
Conjesero can be found here.