Book Review: Killer Triggers by Joe Kenda
By Ray PalenMarch 24, 2021
For those viewers who watched the nine seasons of Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda, this novel will be a real treat. If you were not able to catch that show, which was on the Investigation Discovery (ID) Cable Network, it now has gained a whole new crop of fans with the advent of the Discovery+ app. Kenda comes across as more than just a tough guy but as a career Homicide Investigator who has pretty much seen it all.
Now, with the release of Killer Triggers: Murder Comes Down To Sex, Drugs, Or Money, his fans will find that his literary voice is that much more deeply layered and uncensored in a way we never got to experience on his cable series. Each chapter in this True Crime compendium focuses on a different trigger for homicides with all of them falling somewhere under the heading or sub-heading of Sex, Drugs, or Money. It is a gritty and very real look at true Homicide Investigation without all the glossing over you get from network TV series that do not come close to the real thing.
Kenda does not hold anything back and I love the way he describes what he does. In Chapter 1 he likens his job to that of a symphony conductor where he would ‘walk into the scene of a murder and try to pick up on the melody so that I could orchestrate the investigation.’ That first chapter brings us the case of an elderly man who was in great shape and prided himself on his ability to still compete in marathons. His life was ended by two punks who probably just needed money for booze and drugs. Kenda shares with readers that those in Law Enforcement are never trained in how to break bad news to family members—especially when having to inform them that their loved one was dead. He indicated that it would have been up to the Coroners otherwise and they are not known for their tact.
Chapter 2 discusses ‘The Serial Killer Next Door’. Serial killers are made not born and the U.S. has more per capita than the rest of the world combined. Kenda briefs us on the tell-tale signs that the person who may be living on your block could be a serial killer. It is typically about some form of sexual rage, usually men against women. He also indicates that this is why he made his daughter bring all male suitors over the house so he could get a look at them first. Kenda even joked that his daughter could not begin dating until age sixteen and that he planned to escort her on all her dates until she was twenty-eight!
Chapter 3 shows how an honest, loving family man could become a killer who murdered his entire family. Kenda admitted to getting chills when he found kill lists scattered throughout the house in the father’s handwriting that not only included several strangers but also the members of his own family. Money is a huge motivator in homicide investigations and Chapter 6 tells the sad tale of an elderly couple who ran a Mom & Pop business that ended when the Pop was murdered during a robbery. Chapter 8 reveals the eye-opening statistic that 58 percent of women are killed by those nearest and dearest to them and 137 are killed by a loved one in the U.S. every day.
I just love the way Kenda speaks and writes and especially got a kick out of the title of Chapter 9—“LOWLIFES DESERVE JUSTICE, TOO”. This book was solid reading and unlike any True Crime retelling I have ever read. It really hit home when Kenda discusses why he decided to end his Cable Show after nine seasons. He also reveals that his greatest payoff from doing the series was the opportunity to unload the accumulated horrors that had haunted my dreams during and after his career as a homicide detective. A very revealing read—who would have thought life in Colorado Springs could be so hazardous!