A History of Fear by Luke Dumas (debut novel)
Release Date: December 6th, 2022
General Genre: Horror, Thriller, Suspense
Subgenre/Themes: Crime-Thriller, Cult-like church, spiritual abuse, the Devil, paranoia, phobias, mental illness, college life, Scotland, Ghostwriting, LBGTQIA+
Writing Style: First Person POV, Intricately plotted, epistolary & narrative
What You Need to Know: Grayson Hale, the most infamous murderer in Scotland, is better known by a different name: the Devil's Advocate. The twenty-five-year-old American grad student rose to instant notoriety when he confessed to the slaughter of his classmate Liam Stewart, claiming the Devil made him do it.
My Reading Experience: Highest marks for an enjoyable reading experience. I read this over a three-day weekend. Anytime I set this book down, I was thinking about it, anticipating my return to it. Dumas unfolds a complicated murder mystery with exciting, layered, compelling storytelling that fluctuates back and forth between first person POV narrative with a sympathetic character named Grayson Hale and chapters that read like notes from a criminal investigation. As the story progresses, Dumas delves deeper into Grayson’s psyche as it relates to his childhood and complicated relationships with his family members as well as his adult relationships with fellow students at school and his flatmate.
Simultaneously, the notes from the trial uncover startling truths. Key people closest to Grayson give interviews that wildly contradict Grayson’s narrative. The reading experience is deliciously torn between what we know Grayson is experiencing and what we actually think is happening as well as clues and revelations we are picking up along the way from the investigation. It’s absolutely genius.
Bonus points for this book’s setting in Edinburgh, Scotland. I loved the atmosphere it brought to this tale.
Final Recommendation: Perfect for fans who love to devour a complex, atmospheric murder mystery with supernatural elements. Did the Devil make him do it?
Comps: The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper, Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, the movie Primal Fear, and The Outsider by Stephen King