When Jason Coulter and his partner are assigned to investigate a series of killings, he's anything but happy.
There's nothing tidy about that kind of investigation, he explains. It's too random. You don't gain anything by asking the usual questions, like who had a reason to wish this person dead. That becomes irrelevant. And as theyD start the motions of asking the endless questions and trying to establish a pattern, Coulter knows well that the guilty party is more likely to be captured because of a traffic violation than because of anything he and his partner might do.This time, though, things are different. With very little to go on, and little legwork, they come up with three strong suspects - a trio of thoroughly unlikeable men who apparently work as a team. Suddenly, things don't look so bad.
First, it shouldn't be hard to prove their guilt. Better still, they're the type of people you'd like to put away for a long, long time. Even the death penalty looks attractive.
In the meantime, his personal life has taken a turn for the better. He's become involved with Jennifer, a beautiful dancer who turns to him when her former boyfriend refuses to leave her alone and, in fact, threatens to kill her if she doesn't come back to him.
That's a problem that Coulter feels more than able to deal with.
But from there, the book is full of twists and turns that surprise the reader and make it a "don't-want-to-put-it-down" book.
"Carnivores" is particularly interesting to local readers because it is set in Salt Lake City - although the dust jacket blurb sets it in San Francisco (a few pages do, in fact, take place there). Coulter is a local cop, and it's fun to recognize the places where everything happens.
Levitt describes the city and culture much as one describes a much-loved but sometimes silly friend, forgiving quirks and pointing with pride to the accomplishments.
There are enough turns in "Carnivores" to make a reader dizzy, but it never loses its authentic feel. The police reports read like police reports, people sound like people really sound, and bits and pieces of the author's personal expertise peep through to give credibility to all of it. The dust jacket describes him as a former police officer, sometime filmmaker and multigenre musician, and all of those make their way into the story, providing a realistic background and fleshing Coulter into a believable character.
Intimacy, where it appears, is not explicit and is part of the story.
This book will satisfy people who hunger for a police procedural, even though the police procedure ceases to exist somewhere along the way. And Levitt's style is fresh and entertaining.
I'll be looking for more of him in the future.