Published by Samhain Publishing on 4.5.16
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Psychological Horror
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Reality can be the difference between a dream and a nightmare…
Max Crawford isn’t a typical prison therapist. He uses his unusual psychic ability to walk with convicts through their dreams, reliving their unspeakable crimes alongside them to show them the error of their ways.
Max always has to be on his toes to keep himself grounded, but the FBI agent waiting for him in his private office immediately puts him on edge. The bureau wants Max to go way outside his comfort zone to enter the dreams of suspected serial killer William Knox.
To get a confession and secure the future of his prison program, Max must gain Knox’s trust by any means necessary—and survive the minefield of secrets waiting inside a murderer’s mind. Secrets that could turn Max’s reality into a living nightmare.
The Monster Underneath features an excellent premise: the ability for a doctor to enter into the dreams of his patients in an effort to help heal them. In this case the doctor is a prison therapist and his patients are convicts in the prison system. Max Crawford believes his work is important-he is able to lead felons on a path to remorse and to a deeper understanding of the motivations behind their crimes-all with their consent, of course.
The problems begin when Max is asked to help the police, without the consent of the suspect, not a convict. Being that Mr. Knox is almost certainly a serial killer of young women, and Max has a very young daughter of his own, he overcomes his misgivings and agrees to help the FBI wrangle enough information to put Knox away for life. Will he be able to discover enough to lead the FBI to a confession, or better yet, get him convicted? You’ll have to read this book to find out.
I loved this premise; though a bit unrealistic, I think the author pulled it off. I had only two problems with the story-the first was that the beginning was slightly info-dumpy-by which I mean, a LOT of information was thrown at the reader all at once in the very beginning. I think this tale might have benefited from a slower way of bringing out all the necessary background. The second problem I had was with the ending. It was all so quickly wrapped up, bang-bang-bang, so to speak. To me, it was also a bit predictable-I like to be punched in the face with an ending-so this is a purely personal observation.
Despite those two issues, I enjoyed the dream-walk that was The Monster Underneath and I’m looking forward to what Matthew Franks has in store for us horror lovers in the future.
Recommended to fans of psychological horror!
**Thanks to the publisher for the free e-ARC and thanks to Matthew Franks for sending me the lovely paper copy. Neither of these influenced, this, my honest review.*