cover image A History of Fear

A History of Fear

Luke Dumas. Atria, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-9821-9902-9

Did the devil really make him do it? That question haunts Dumas’s stellar debut, a complex whydunit. American Grayson Hale, a University of Edinburgh postgraduate student, has been convicted of murdering a colleague, Liam Stewart, whose strangled corpse was found in a loch months after his disappearance. Hale confessed, but claimed he had been under the influence of the devil. Following Hale’s apparent suicide in prison, journalist Daniella Barclay, who covered the case, obtains access to the murderer’s memoir. Barclay presents Hale’s own account of the events preceding the murder, which starts with his meeting a mysterious man who offers him much needed money if he agrees to help write a book on the history of the devil in Scotland. Despite misgivings over his employer and several false starts, Hale agrees, only to become trapped in a nightmarish world where he’s harassed by winged fiends and seems to have become a catalyst for violence in others. Vivid prose enhances the twisty plot; Liam’s Scottish accent is “melodic yet underpinned by something hard and jagged, like clear water flowing over a bed of pointed rocks.” Admirers of Andrew Pyper’s The Demonologist will be riveted. Agent: Maria Whelan, InkWell Management. (Dec.)