First published back in June of 2012, British author Matt Shaw’s novella ‘Peter’ formed the eighth instalment within his ‘Peter Chronicles’ series, with this book forming the sequel to ‘A Fresh Start’ (2012).

The novella was later re-released within the ‘His Name Was Peter’ (2017) complete collection, which compiled all the ‘Peter chronicles’ stories – apart from the short story ‘Before Vanessa’ (2019) – into one complete volume.

DLS Synopsis:
It had been months since the whole Vanessa incident, and the memory of her still haunted him.  Peter couldn’t understand why she was still lurking at the forefront of his mind.  She was gone.  Just another girl who said she could never love him.  Another disappointment.  They were certainly stacking up.  As were the bodies.

Peter now saw himself as a changed man.  He even had a Facebook page where he actively communicated with others.  Well…girls.  He was surprised how easy it was to get chatting to these girls.  Especially considering the internet was full of weirdos, hiding behind their screens, pretending to be whoever they wanted to be.

He’d also gotten himself a part-time job answering the phones for an insurance company.  As well as raising a little extra money to pay the bills, it also helped him edge his way back into society.  It was something Peter deemed important.  To seem normal.  Someone who could be trusted.  Liked even.

The job didn’t pay well.  In fact, Peter found each month he was dipping into his inheritance.  He’d cut back on everything other than the bare necessities.  Although he wouldn’t cut back on the money he spent on Angela.  The gifts he bought her or the Skype calls she’d charge him for.

Speaking to Angela helped Peter move on from Vanessa.  He’d been doing so well at keeping his dark side hidden.  Keeping the evil within him at arm’s length.  So well at trying to live a normal life.  Easing himself back into the society which had never truly accepted him in the first place.

However, for Peter, the good times never last.  For Peter, it was only a matter of time before the monster within him came out and ruined it all…

DLS Review:
So, after the vague conclusion in ‘A Fresh Start’ (2012), it was always going to be damn interesting to see where Shaw was going to take the Peter Chronicles next.  Of course, the first thing you’ll want to understand is what the hell really happened to Peter and/or Vanessa.  In the ‘His Name Was Peter’ (2017) omnibus, Shaw includes a short explanatory paragraph stating his thinking was Vanessa died after Peter slipped her too many drugs.  As you’ll learn early on in this next instalment, that’s not the explanation Shaw eventually went with.  In fact, Vanessa’s passing turns out to be far more brutal (quelle surprise).

Whatever your opinion of the ending of ‘A Fresh Start’ (2012), at the end of the day, it doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) detract from where Shaw has now taken the story.  In essence, we’re back to business as usual.  Peter’s appendages are fully intact and he’s got another decomposing corpse stinking up his garage.

In his head, everything that’s happened to all the women he’s killed has just been a series of unfortunate twists of fate.  Justifiable outcomes within one fucked-up sociopathic mind.  It’s an aspect of the series which Shaw has truly mastered.  Probably the scariest part of the books.  The way Peter’s mind works.  The way he reasons his deplorable and sadistic actions.

However, now our favourite antagonist sees himself as a changed man.  He’s now made the conscious decision to get himself back into society.  To take up a job, build up some trust, maybe even make some friends.  But his desire for a woman and that ‘Happy Ever After’ scenario is always there.  It’s that constant drive behind everything for him.

Interestingly, for the first time in these books, Peter is portrayed more than ever as a sad and pathetic character who should be pitied.  Obviously, we know what’s essentially at the root of his fucked-up serial killer urges.  We’ve witnessed the creation of this monster in those earlier instalments.  However, seeing how he’s so easily taken advantage of by a woman who’s after his money, adds a whole new layer to the tale.  It’s a degree of emotionally conflicting complexity which sits within the overall narrative perfectly.  It adds a layer of skin to the monster.  Makes him that little more human.  That little more real.  And because of that, that much more terrifying.

However, what stands out the most in this particular story is the incorporation of so many perfectly crafted twists.  So many times I sat there with the book in my hands, jaw agape at the next twist I’d completely not seen coming.  The execution of each is absolutely flawless.  The impact that much more jaw dropping because of this.

Once again, this offering contains some damn brutal scenes.  Peter is not a man you want to get on the bad side of.  Here we see the repercussions of such in all its visceral and blood-splattered glory.  In fact, the latter chapters would almost certainly sit on the ‘extreme horror’ shelving for which Shaw’s become a veritable veteran of now.

All in all this is quite simply another solid addition to the series.  Business as usual pretty much sums up this instalment.  But that’s meant in a good way.  It delivers more of what makes the series so damn entertaining.  Capitalises on its strengths and tentatively explores some new pathways in the mix.

Yes, this is damn good reading my sicko friends.

The novella runs for a total of 68 pages.

 © DLS Reviews

Other ‘Peter Chronicles’ instalments:





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