Hungry Eyes by Barry Hoffman, is unusual, if not unique, among novels in which the subject is a serial killer. What makes it so unusual is that the killer evokes extraordinary pathos. Pity, sorrow, sympathy and compassion are atypical reactions to a serial killer; but Hungry Eyes triggers many, if not all, of these emotions.
Renee Barrow is an unwanted child. At age eight, she is present when her father is killed. At ten, she is kidnapped and kept naked in a basement cell. Her experiences harden her resolve to take control of her life. Eventually, she fakes her own suicide. Later, when her roommate is beaten to death, she assumes her roommate's identity and becomes a secretary for the Philadelphia Police Department.
Soon, criminals who have committed acts of sexual abuse but avoided punishment begin to die. The press attributes the deaths to a "Vigilante." As election time draws near, the major appoints a task force whose job is to catch the killer.
This brings us to "Mainline" Deidre Caffrey, who had been an investigative reporter until her life was shattered by the deaths of her husband and son in a car accident. Trying to rebuild her life, she accepts an assignment as the mayor's media liaison to the Task Force. This assignment will bring her face to face with the vigilante.
In one of the most inventive and original stories I have ever read, these two main characters will absorb you with their depth. In his first novel, Hoffman presents chilling insights into the killer's thinking. These glimpses, while depressing, illuminate the dark murkiness of an agonized mind. As for the ending, don't count on figuring it out! This novel redefines psychopathological thrillers.