"I Kill in Peace" Book Review
Written by Jonathan Lees
Published by Samhain Publishing
Written by Hunter Shea
2016, 104 pages, Fiction
Released on April 12th, 2016
Your boss is an asshole. Your neighbor lets his dog shit on your lawn. The woman in front of you is ordering the most complicated coffee order ever and your eyes are burning into the back of her skull. These are minor villains we encounter in our daily lives, but that doesn't stop even the best of us from imagining a most gruesome demise for them all.
In Hunter Shea's novella I Kill in Peace, Peter Blades, a loving family man, is being prompted to execute upon these dark musings, albeit for a much more sinister group of offenders, or suffer a fate worse than he can fathom. After being let go from work by an unsympathetic boss, Peter receives numerous text messages from a mysterious figure who calls himself "AO". This faceless entity uses electronic communications to urge Peter to take matters into his own hands, and in those hands he has placed the wheel of a possessed Mustang and the hilt of an ancient scimitar.
After completing the first murder, the messages and demands of death keep coming. Each new target, or victim, is a ripped-from-the-headlines scourge of society. Upon Peter's refusal to do any of the tasks, he succumbs to the most painful internalized torture: A burning physical torment, the threat of losing his cherished wife and daughter and the looming weight of a world threatening disease that is spreading across the continent.
By placing the reader in the passenger seat so close to Peter on his automated ride of terror, we feel the same chaotic sense of helplessness balanced with the crippling doubt of his actions and the horror of having to watch it all happen regardless whether we want to or not. Kind of like being strapped down to watch the Nightly News or being forced to live in Florida.
I Kill in Peace precariously balances a borderline offensive narrative and a protagonist we keep hesitating to root for, but Shea's provocations always seem to poke at society as a whole and Blades is just the unfortunate vessel for all our concerns and fears. The novella proves a perfect format for this fast-paced, brutal meditation on justifiable murder and vigilante justice in a world that is quickly rotting from the inside out. The limited page count keeps the dread and momentum palpable.
So, strap yourself in, hope you like the leather seats because this little trip through Hell on Earth is gonna burn, baby, burn.