“When a blood-soaked man is discovered with the word Baal-Berith scored into his flesh, the bewildered police call on expert Professor Matt Hunter to assist.
Before long, a gruesome discovery is made and Hunter is drawn into a frenzied murder investigation.
With a fury of media interest in the case, and the emerging link to a documentary on demonic possession, Hunter is unable to escape a dark world of exorcism and violence. Even when events spiral frighteningly out of control.”
Hello and welcome to damppebbles. I am absolutely thrilled to be sharing my review of Possessed by Peter Laws with you today. Possessed is the fourth book in the stonking Matt Hunter series and was published in digital format by Allison and Busby on 20th February. Look out for the audiobook version which is heading your way soon (this will make an awesome audiobook, if you’re feeling brave….?) and the paperback later in the Summer. I chose to read and review an eARC copy of Possessed but that has in no way influenced my review.
It was around this time last year that I first discovered how utterly brilliant Laws’ writing is. I picked up a copy of Purged, the first book in the Matt Hunter series, and devoured it in a few short sittings. I have a bit of a thing for crime/horror crossover novels so the books Laws writes really appeal to me. My plan, as bookish plans normally go, was to read books two and three in the series next but what is it they say about best-laid plans….? Well, exactly. I was offered the opportunity to read the brand new fourth book in the series, Possessed, so of course I jumped at the chance. Just call me ‘rebel’! 😉
Matt Hunter is an instantly likeable character who trained as a Baptist Minister but lost his faith and turned his back on the church. Now a professor of sociology and a consultant to the police when things turn a little…’weird’, his life doesn’t contain a dull moment. If Matt’s on the case then things are gonna get interesting! Normally the kind of interesting that sends shivers down the reader’s spine and has you wondering exactly what that strange scratching noise at the window is.
Matt is called to assist with a suspect the police believe to be possessed. Nice, normal, boring Tom has changed beyond recognition, has carved ‘Baal-Berith’ into his abdomen and is showing all the signs of demonic possession. Tom’s peculiar mutterings lead the police straight to his home and his poor wife’s mutilated remains. As the news of a man possessed by a demon committing tortuous murder breaks, Matt is reluctantly drawn into a world where he’s put under a constant spotlight and pushed in front of the TV cameras to provide a balanced, scientific point of view. But this is TV and that’s just no fun at all. Who wants boring old balanced and stuffy scientific? Not when you can showcase a live exorcism! But when you’re playing with forces you can never understand, it’s no surprise when things go horribly, horribly wrong…
Laws’ use of language is fantastic and it makes his novels so easy to read. I was particularly pleased to find the word ‘crud’ used in one section of dialogue which made my heart sing, as I thought I was one of the last few remaining people uttering this wonderful word under my breath (ah crud – we’re all so old and unfashionable that we’ve all pretty much died out!). This is only one small example though of how the author draws the reader in, making you feel a connection to his stories. Another way is by creating one of the most likeable, humorous and utterly brilliant lead characters to grace fiction – Professor Matt Hunter. There is a hilarious section near the beginning of the book where Matt is meeting his new therapist for the first time which had me crying with laughter. The warmth and wit Laws puts into the character of Matt Hunter makes him a joy to read.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. One hundred percent, yes. If you haven’t read the first three books in the series then there’s no need to worry. Possessed works just as well as a standalone but I can guarantee you will want to read Purged, Unleashed and Severed immediately afterwards so you can lose yourself in Hunter’s world once more (I’m off to pick up my copy of Unleashed now!) . It’s a devilishly (!) good read, with lots of thrills and chills to keep those pages turning. A true fictional delight and one that I heartily recommend to all.
Possessed by Peter Laws was published in the UK by Allison and Busby on 20th February 2020 and is available in digital format with the audiobook and paperback to follow later in the year (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |
Peter Laws is an author, journalist, film critic and YouTube horror host. He’s also a church minister with a taste for the macabre. He’s the creator of the acclaimed Matt Hunter series of horror tinged crime thrillers. Hunter is an ex-vicar turned atheist academic, who helps the police solve religiously motivated crimes. The first in the series, ‘Purged’, had Matt on the trail of a Christian serial killer, who fast tracks his victims to heaven by baptising them, then killing straight after. The sequel, ‘Unleashed’, pulls Matt into a world of poltergeists and the supernatural, though he insists a flesh and blood killer is at work. Unleashed won ‘Thriller of the Year’ in the Fully Booked awards for 2017. In the third Matt Hunter novel, ‘Severed’, Matt has to contend with a bizarre pseudo Christian cult.
He’s also the author of the acclaimed non-fiction book The Frighteners: Why We Love Monsters Ghosts Death and Gore. It’s available from Icon Books in the UK and Skyhorse in the US.
He writes a monthly column in the print magazine The Fortean Times and hosts the popular podcast and YouTube show The Flicks That Church Forgot which reviews scary films from a theological perspective. He also does quirky cover versions of obscure horror songs on there, so why not drop by. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgZZklJNcUEZplFDboNho6g