“Matt Hunter lost his faith a long time ago. Formerly a minister, he’s now a professor of sociology writing a book that debunks the Christian faith while assisting the police with religiously motivated crimes.
On holiday in an idyllic part of Oxfordshire where wooden crosses hang at every turn, Matt’s stay becomes sinister when a local girl goes missing, followed by further disappearances. Caught up in an investigation that brings disturbing memories to the surface, Matt is on the trail of a killer who is determined to save us all.”
There are several people in the book world whose opinions I completely trust. If they say ‘read this book’ then that is exactly what I will do. The fabulous Liz of Liz Loves Books recommended this one to me so I treated myself and purchased a copy. Purged is the first book in the Matt Hunter series written by Peter Laws and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Matt Hunter is a very interesting character. He trained as a minister, initially choosing to dedicate his life to God and his beliefs. Only for those beliefs to vanish. Now a professor of sociology and slogging his guts out on a book which won’t write itself, he heads with his family to a quaint Oxfordshire village for a break. The destination isn’t chosen at random though and whilst there Matt’s wife, Wren (an architect), is to come up with plans to renovate the Hobbs Hill church. What the couple don’t realise initially is exactly how important the church is to the Hobbs Hill locals. Arriving at their picturesque cottage they notice a number of wooden crosses dotted about the place. The biggest surprise is yet to come though in the form of local Pastor, Chris Kelly. A face Matt recognises all too well. When local women start to disappear Matt unwittingly becomes involved in the investigation. Will he be able to work out what’s happening to the women before the killer strikes too close to home…?
This is a wonderful slow-burn of a novel that I kept wanting to return to. It opens with a terrifying scene that sets the tone for the book from start to finish. The reader discovers that Matt has experienced horrors in his own past and these are skillfully drip-fed to the reader as the book progresses, making sure you keep turning those pages. As much as I loved Matt I felt the total opposite about Pastor Chris, who came across as self-absorbed, frustratingly ignorant and quite creepy. The other thing I absolutely loved was the small, isolated (slightly creepy) community feel of the setting. The fact that the fictional village is set in Oxfordshire just added to the enjoyment for me.
Would I recommend this book? I would and I will be making a point of downloading the second and third books in the series as well. I need me more Matt! The author’s love of the horror genre shines through and although I would label Purged as a crime thriller it does have a nod or two to the horror genre as well. You can’t go wrong with a horror-esque crime thriller in my book! As debuts go, it’s a cracker of a book. A well-written, creepy page-turner that I heartily recommend. Thanks Liz for putting Purged on my radar!
Purged by Peter Laws was published in the UK by Allison & Busby on 16th February 2017 and is available in paperback, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | 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