After reading Grady Hendrix book Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of 70’s and 80’s Horror Fiction (check out my review of that book here). I have declared 2018 the year of the horror novel. By that I mean I have set a goal to read 13 horror novels this year. I typically don’t read fiction, so this would truly be a challenge. I decided to start with a recently published novel that has been sitting on my shelf for a few months, Peter Law’s Purged.
Purged follows the main character, Matthew Hunter, who is a former Christian minister turned atheist sociology professor. While doing research for a book he is writing debunking Christianity, he assists the local police in investigating certain crimes that seem to have been motivated by various aspects of religion. While vacationing in the overtly (odd) Christian, Matt gets caught up in investigating the disappearances of some local girls. While on the trail of a serial killer, Matt must push through battles with his own metaphorical demons in order to stop the murderer from claiming his next victim.
When I closed the book upon completion I had one word come to mind: phenomenal. While Purged is the first fiction novel published by Laws (who also happens to be a baptist minister), his writing comes off as that of a seasoned vet of the genre. The story is riveting, not overdoing it in any aspect. The main characters are relatable, making it easier for the reader to feel for them in their dire circumstances. The author paints an excellent picture without being overly wordy. Laws does an excellent job of carrying the plot forward with a sense of foreboding, building the suspense incrementally until the edge-of-your-seat climax during the last 80 pages.
Laws’ use of religious themes in the novel come off as intelligent, not preachy. While leaving the issues unresolved the reader is forced to evaluate their own beliefs concerning the world beyond our own. We’re left to ask what is really acceptable in a world that continues to muddy the line between good and evil? While these types of philosophical questions aren’t typically what one looks for in the horror genre, Purged presents these issues in a way that is wildly entertaining and fantastically creepy.
Not only is Peter Laws an author, he is also a composer. A unique feature of his work is that he offers a full length soundtrack to his novel Purged. I am fairly new to contemporary horror fiction, but I don’t recall seeing anyone else doing this. The soundtrack (which can be found here) is a great companion to the novel, and anyone who appreciated creepy horror soundtracks needs to listen to it.
As I have said earlier, for me 2018 will be the year of the horror novel. I am already off to a fantastic start. I highly recommend Peter Laws’ Purged to any fan of the horror novel. While the paperback novel may not be the fad today that it was during the 70’s and 80’s, it is comforting to know that there are still high quality fiction books filled with terror and suspense being produced. I highly suspect that Peter Laws is soon to be a household name in the realm of the macabre (the next book in the Matt Hunter series, Unleashed, has recently been released). Buy the book, devour it, and then buy the next one!