Often as children, we build clubs and belong to one or more groups of friends we remain close to for the rest of our lives. What would happen if a group of children who were bullied by those bigger and stronger formed a new club? What would happen if the purpose of that club were to extact revenge?
In The Kult by Shaun Jeffrey, we enter the world of a psychopathic killer, known as the Oracle. Graphic and disturbing murders are being committed and the clues, a group of seemingly random pictures of prior serial killers, seem to lead nowhere. As Prosper Snow, the lead detective on the case, begins the investigation he is at once also drawn back into the drama of his group of friends and their old school club known as the Kult.
Prosper has lost weight and learned to overcome the obstacles of youth, and his club of friends have been there for him whenever needed. As youngsters, they looked out for each other, and their club went on the defensive and sought revenge against those who bullied them. Their own form of vengeance was a bit brutal, and yet satisfying. As one of the members draws them into the darkness of murder, he plots to utilize all the clues Prosper has collected on the Oracle case, as a way to escape punishment. When they allow the Oracle to take the blame for the killing they have committed, they suddenly become the target of this very same serial killer.
As the Oracle killer begins to target each of Prosper’s friends in his brutal, cruel, and macabre fashion, Prosper finds that he has lost control. The death of each only throws the other club members into more of a panic. The kidnapping of his wife makes him realize he must pull out all stops to find the killer while keeping his own culpability unknown. How does the Oracle know the Kult club members are responsible for the copycat killing? Is it possible one of his friends is the actual murderer? Can Prosper find the killer before he commits the final act, and still hide his involvement from the police?
Author Shaun Jeffery does an amazing job of setting up red herrings, and taking your mind into places and thoughts that lead you in differing directions. Each time you think you have it figured out, the killer makes another move to create further misdirection. Jeffery’s characters are human with both strengths and weaknesses, which draw you in. Easily swayed by the dark side and their friendships, they allow themselves to be manipulated by a copycat crime, but their action puts them at risk in a way they could not have realized. Prosper is a strong protagonist, and yet he still carries the flaws from his youth. While inadvertently being involved trying in a copycat murder case, he is now racing against time to save his friends and family.
The murderer is a disturbed individual, with a mindset out of some of our worst nightmares. His manipulation of the bodies and the way he kills is gruesome, and over the edge. He aligns his clues in such a way that Prosper will take notice, and yet Prosper has no understanding. It is only as he compares notes with his surviving friends that he begins to see a picture of madness. There is no way to prepare for what he discovers.
I would recommend The Kult for the horror and suspense aficionado. It is full of horror and the suspense as you trace the keeps-you-guessing clues. The action is nonstop, and the killings are both brutal and graphic. This is a book better read by daylight; even then it will keep you up with the lights on and the doors locked. Be prepared.