A religious minister with his own Youtube channel has become the latest author to join the thriller game.
The Reverend Peter Laws of Bedfordshire is an ordained Baptist minister who has been writing for the Fortean Times and reviewing horror films on his Youtube channel, The Flicks that Church Forgot. He recently signed a two-book deal with publishers Allison and Busby for a new series of murder mystery thrillers. The first, Purged is available while its sequel Unleashed will be released in July. Both books feature theologian Matt Hunter, who used to be a Protestant minister. These days, Matt is a lecturer at London's Goldsmith's College. Occasionally he also serves as a consultant for the police on religiously-motivated crimes.
In Purged, Matt and his family are introduced. His wife Wren is an architect who used to be in an abusive relationship with the now-imprisoned Eddie Pullen that produced two daughters, Lucy and Amelia. At the start of the book, Wren has been called by Chris Kelly, an old friend of Matt, to a rural Oxfordshire community to help restore a church building. Matt and the girls go along and find that there is more to the village than meets the eye. The local folk are deeply religious, and Chris' church seems to be heavily involved in bizarre rituals. On top of that, several vulnerable women have disappeared, and Chris and his son fall under the radar of suspicion.
Religious-themed thriller: Purged by Peter Laws features a theologian helping the police solve a series of disappearances in a rural Oxfordshire community
The narrative is reminiscent of those written by Nordic-based authors. The plot moves along slowly in the beginning, but the pace picks up from the middle, culminating in the shocking denouement right at the end. Matt Hunter can be considered a Christian version of Mikael Blomkvist in the way he runs his own parallel investigation to the official one sanctioned by local police. Also discussed is the conflict between religion and logic and the issue of suicide. While most mainstream Christian scholars posit that suicides go to hell, they fail to address the underlying causes of it, which is frequently due to mental instability. This is briefly covered in the novel.
On the whole, Purged seems like a good start to a brand new series. Thriller fans may love the exotic theme of the book but some may be put off by constant references to the Christian scriptures. The description of the night-time English countryside does get under the skin at times, as does the perspective from a schizophrenic young man.