Judgment, by Wade Hunter

judgment-by-wade-hunter coverGenre: Horror
Publisher: Publish America
Published: 2003
Reviewer Rating: two stars
Book Review by Ray Wallace

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Wade Hunter’s Judgment follows the story threads of four main characters. First, there is Sam Yeager, a middle aged ex-cop forced into retirement after a horribly tragic run-in with a particularly vicious serial killer known as the Ripper. The confrontation resulted in the amputation of Sam’s leg and the brutal killings of his wife and daughter. Sam has spent the subsequent years in hiding, obsessing over the Ripper whom he believes is not a man at all but a monster with supernatural powers. After assuming a new identity, Sam has moved to a different town where his neighbors regard him as some sort of strange hermit. Which he basically is. He spends his days trying to drink away the memories of his family and his nights praying that the Ripper never finds him again. Unfortunately, some prayers seem destined to go unanswered.

Next there’s Seth Joiner, a young man who attends the local college where he plays for the school hockey team. Seth has some things in his own past he’d rather forget, namely the ways in which his mother mentally and physically abused him when he was under her care. It seems that she blamed him for the fact that his father deserted them. Seth has managed to channel the anger he feels toward his mother into his play on the hockey rink where he excels. Unbeknownst to Seth, the Ripper is about to impact his life too, for Seth’s girlfriend Jenna happens to be one of the next victims on the killer’s list.

Then there is Heather Jones, a young girl who dreams of a troll boy living under her bed. But of course these are only the fantasies of a child’s overactive imagination, aren’t they? So Heather is told by her parents until the fateful evening when this troll boy visits one night while Heather is awake and turns her reality into a nightmare of death by killing her mother, father, and two brothers. Shortly after the murders Heather discovers the psychic abilities lying dormant within her, uses them to help track down and confront the troll boy who is, in fact, the Ripper.

And finally there is the Ripper himself, a vicious killer seemingly trapped in the body of a young boy and possessed of incredible powers that allow him to heal himself and cause great suffering to those he indiscriminately targets as his victims. What is the secret behind these dark, supernatural abilities and where will the intermingled destinies of these four lost souls ultimately lead?

The plot of Judgment treads firmly in Dean Koontz territory and is populated with a cast of fairly interesting and (for the most part) rather likeable characters. Wade Hunter has written a supernatural thriller here that would have, however, benefited greatly from a rewrite or two. A number of typos prove distracting and the retelling of scenes from differing perspectives causes the book to run longer than it should. Overall not a bad effort but one cannot help but feel that the author is capable of better and will prove so with future efforts.

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