The Monster Underneath by Matthew Franks
Matthew Franks debut novel, The Monster Underneath, is an interesting adventure through the dreams of a serial killer. I would definitely give book the “psychological horror” label. It’s never outright frightening, but is always interesting and has the reader’s wheels turning.
Max Crawford has the ability to read thoughts and slip into people’s dreams. He uses these special gifts as a psychiatrist for a local prison in an attempt to show the inmates the error in the choices they made that led to their incarceration. He is offered an opportunity to help get a conviction out of serial killer, William Knox. Knox is a professor who has been too clever to give up a confession. With Crawford on board, the FBI hopes to secure Knox’s fate. The majority of the story is Crawford friending Knox through his dreams and eventually getting Knox to take him through some version of what may or may not have happened to the three dead girls.
There’s not really anything negative to say here. The story had some dips, but never so low that you wouldn’t want to push on through. I could have done without a part of the ending, but that might just be me.
This was a really well-plotted novel with some great characters. As I stated, not outright horror, but that’s okay. At times, pieces of the story reminded me of Silence of the Lambs, at other times, I felt like it could have taken place on Criminal Minds or The Following. I think Knox resembles Joe Carroll, the killer from The Following, more than a Hannibal Lecter type, and that’s okay with me since I enjoyed The Following.
Overall, I think this is a strong first novel and I look forward to seeing where Franks chooses to take us next.
The Monster Underneath, Synopsis
- Publication Date: April 5, 2016
- Publisher: Samhain
- Publication Length: 219 pages
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.
Biography of Matthew Franks
Matthew Franks lives in Arlington, Texas with his beautiful wife and children. He studied psychology and creative writing at Louisiana State University then obtained a Master’s Degree in counseling from Texas State University. When he’s not working on his next story, he’s counseling adolescents or trying to keep up with his three highly energetic daughters. You can connect with Matthew at: authormatthewfranks.com.
Praise for The Monster Underneath
“An assured, gripping, totally engaging debut, Matthew Franks will have you burning through the pages of this taut supernatural thriller at breakneck speed. If Christopher Nolan and Stephen King ever teamed up to write a novel, this would be it. Highly recommended!” –Ronald Malfi, author of Little Girls
“What if you could see inside the dreams of anyone you came in contact with? Would you dare to look? Could you handle the things you’d find within? The Monster Underneath is a real nail-biter – one of those ever-spiraling stories that you just can’t put down until you reach the surprising end!” –John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Covenant and The Family Tree
“The Monster Underneath is an intense and clever debut in which reality is more terrifying than the nightmares and twisted dreamscapes of a madman. Author Matthew Franks is a name to remember, his stories you won’t soon forget.” –Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Evolutionist and East End Girls
“Matthew Franks’ debut novel takes you through the darkest, twisted alleys of a killer’s mind and then drags you several steps further, beyond the status of observer and into the disturbing realm of accomplice. A harrowing tale of murder and delusion and moral ambiguity.” –Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical, and the dark thriller collection, American Nocturne
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