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Crime. Crime Writers. Crime Writing

The Chosen: Arlene Hunt

This Review posted by Sam Blake on 27 November 2011.

On a hot summer’s day in the sleepy American town of Rockville, Jessie Conway, a teacher at the local high school, notices a car driving slowly around the school grounds.

Twenty minutes later Jessie is fighting for her life and Rockville is plunged into living nightmare after a gun-toting student unleashes bloody mayhem.

For Jessie the horror is just beginning. Traumatized and hounded by the media she retreats to her home and tries to rebuild her shattered life.

Caleb Switch watches the developments in Rockville with interest. A skilled and diligent killer, his recent selections have disappointed him, offering little challenge to a man of his predilections. Jessie Conway interests him: for she is no ordinary woman and a fine choice for a less than ordinary man.

As Jessie struggles to hold onto her marriage and her sanity she has no idea that she has become The Chosen

“Arlene Hunt may just be the best female crime writer to have emerged from these islands in recent years” – John Connolly

Arlene Hunt is a unique voice in Irish crime fiction. Her dark and atmospheric stories perfectly capture the grimy underworld of Dublin and beyond. She began writing at the age of 27, and produced her first novel, Vicious Circle, within the year. This book was eventually published by Hodder Headline at the end of April 2004.

Her second novel, False Intentions, introduced two characters, John and Sarah of QuicK Investigations, who were set to become a regular part of Arlene’s work, and was published in May 2005.  Black Sheep,  Missing Presumed Dead (MPD) (translated into Dutch and is available under the title ‘Vermist’, and due to be published in Russian), Undertow (nominated for Best Crime Novel at the 2009 Irish Book Awards) and Blood Money, continue the QuicK Investigations series.

With this litany of best sellers behind her, The Chosen is a departure from the QuicK Investigations series and is Arlene Hunt’s best book yet. Getting right inside the heads of her characters so smoothly that it comes as a surprise to some that Hunt is a Dubliner and not resident in the deep south, this is a fast paced thriller that is compulsive reading. Brilliantly crafted complex characters, from the ambitious Darla Levine to the morose and shady Ace, Hunt has nailed the rural American voice brilliantly. Keeping me hooked to the last page, The Chosen is tightly written with not a word out of place. Now I want to see Ace and his dog Captain return in the next book…

And I’m not the only one who thinks it’s great:

“Hunt’s novel builds tension and pace in a perfectly pitched approach; gently, stealthily – mimicking that of the antagonist stalking its prey – building to a raging crescendo which is deeply satisfying. Perfectly played.” – Bord Gais Energy Book Club

“A 5 star review” – “Very pacy, edge of the seat stuff” – “Very clever, very forceful, it builds to a crescendo. I loved it” – Ireland AM – TV3

And this is what Hot Press thinks:

“Arlene Hunt’s The Chosen is a change of direction for the Irish crime author. Set between North Carolina and Tennessee, this is her first novel where the action takes place outside Ireland.

When Jessie Conway, a special needs teacher, foils a rampage at a small-town high school, she gains the attentions of the press. Unfortunately for her, she also attracts Caleb Switch’s notice. Switch is a predator who classifies potential victims. He is looking for a prey that will test his skills, a Category A victim, and it seems Jessie may fit the bill.

The Chosen is a serial killer story, but instead of concentrating on the excesses of the killer, the potential victim is fleshed out. Hunt alternates between Jessie and Switch, slowly building tension as the hunter closes in on his unsuspecting prey.

Taut and gripping, The Chosen may be the novel that introduces Hunt to a wider audience.”

This is a must read!

Find out more about Arlene Hunt here: