Killing gets easier…with practice.
Peter Blades is, in every sense of the word, an ordinary man. Hard worker, father, husband, a man content with small-town life. Except for one small fact—he’s slowly being turned into a ruthless killer.
Compelled by mysterious texts to murder, he’s provided a fiery red Mustang and an ancient sword to carry out an ever-growing hit list. His jerkoff boss is victim number one. You always remember your first.
By the time his sword sings through the air to dispatch a would-be school shooter, taking lives is as easy as breathing. And if the world is going to hell around him, all the better. No one wants to burn alone.
When you think of Hunter Shea–if you know Hunter Shea–you think of monsters. It’s what you do. Because it’s what he does. Hunter writes some of the best damn monster stories you can get your hands on, bar none, and each successive monster, even the ones you think you know, is creepier and more original than the one before it. Sure, he’s tackled other subjects to good effect, including ghosts, ghost hunters, apocalypse, etc., and he’s done so with the same flare for storytelling that he brings to his monster tales. But monsters are what he does most and what he does, in this reviewer’s opinion, best. So what does all this have to do with his new slasher novella, I KILL IN PEACE? Nothing at all. Or does it?
“AO: Are u OK?
I wasn’t sure if I was legally supposed to use my computer, now that I’d been shit-canned. What are they gonna do, fire me twice?
PB: How did you know?
AO: I know a lot. Are u angry?
PB: Of course I am. Being fired is one thing. Being fired by a dumbass I don’t respect is another.
PB: Why is that good?
AO: Because u won’t feel so bad when u kill him.”
That snippet of dialogue in text form closes the first chapter of I KILL IN PEACE and kicks off a wild, violent whirlwind of a ride featuring badass muscle cars, ancient swords, and maybe an uzi or two. As per usual, I won’t synopsize this story. Particularly this one because there are so many reveals throughout the book that it would be way too easy to spoil something important. What I’ll do instead is tell you what works about this book and why it’s such a damn fine piece of entertainment. Again as per usual, what makes this story, and all of Hunter Shea’s stories work, is sheer storytelling prowess. Shea has a sure hand with catchy prose and edgy, natural seeming characters that you can really empathize with, not to mention a mastery of the action scene that is literally unmatched in the horror community.
“I brought the scimitar down into the center of his skull. It thunked all the way to his nose. One of his eyeballs rolled across the porch, flopping into an azalea bush. I pulled the scimitar free, flicking the blood off and onto his reddening shirt.
I heard his body hit the floor as I walked down the steps and back to the car. I put the scimitar in its case and started the Mustang. Every nerve and muscle in my body was humming as if I’d stuck a fork in an electrical outlet.”
But. Yes, there’s a but. As demonstrated above, the number one, most powerful thing about I KILL IN PEACE, the thing that stands above all others and pulls all those other elements together is an incredible grasp of tension and pacing. Shea feeds his tale to you in bite size little chunks of sudden, shocking brutality, and horrific, unexpected reveals all leading toward a destiny of seemingly wanton destruction, murderous cruelty and a staggering conclusion that will leave you reeling when you discover the source of the “monsters” in this unapologetically blood-soaked rocket ride of a story.
No matter what he writes, Hunter doesn’t shy away from violence and gore and in I KILL IN PEACE he brings it in spades. But the violence is in no way gratuitous. It serves a purpose as an important element in a story in which the final, stunning divulgence would fall completely flat without it. And when I say stunning, it’s no exaggeration. In fact, it may just be the understatement of the year. Trust me when I tell you that this book is like no slasher/serial killer story you’ve ever read nor are likely to read again. Hunter Shea is a storyteller with a unique outlook and original vision when it comes to the horrors he imagines and I KILL IN PEACE is a fine example of that vision.
As I’ve said before, here and in other entries, Hunter Shea is a master of the macabre and the monstrous, a deft and practiced virtuoso of visceral, raw fear with an abiding knowledge of the techniques required to take that fear and move it from the page to the reader’s psyche. Hunter’s stories always scare, they always make you check the doors and windows twice before you go to bed at night, and they always, always entertain. I KILL IN PEACE was a one sitting read for me, a quick hundred or so pages that went by in the time it usually takes me to read a short story. If you haven’t read Hunter Shea, you’re robbing yourself of an incomparable treat. Follow those links below and discover for yourself what I’m talking about.