by Keith Gouveia
3 out of 5
Reading a Keith Gouveia novel always reminds me of sitting snuggled up on the couch in my parents’ family room, a wool blanket wrapped around me, classic horror on the TV screen. There is a ton of horror stories and novels out there but what sets Gouveia apart from the rest—and I’ve said this before—is his ability to take a horror idea or concept and strip it of all its fluff and unclarity and boil it down to a simple dark tale much akin to your classic horror pictures of the late eighties and early nineties.
This type of essential-basic-horror is evident in Gouveia’s third novel entitled, Killing Faith. Priests and cardinals are murdered left, right and center by an unknown killer. We quickly learn that this murderer is Julian Moore, a man that had been sexually abused as a child. What’s more, the abuse had been dealt by the hands of a priest. Grown up, Julian wants revenge and killing just one priest isn’t enough to punish the man that hurt him. He wants to destroy the “institution” that spawned him: the Catholic church. Enter Robbie Bachetta, an old cop in dire need of a vacation. He barely sleeps and has an intense passion for the law. But before he can disappear for a while for his own R & R, Robbie is called upon to stop Julian before any more priests are mercilessly butchered. Not only does Gouveia launch us into a game of cat-and-mouse, but he adds his own twist by empowering Julian with supernatural abilities by way of a bargain Julian struck with the demon Moloch, a general in Satan’s army, a demon covered in a mother’s tears and children’s blood.
A story of revenge and exposing the fine line between vengeance and justice, Killing Faith makes you wonder if something as holy as a church is truly expected to be “perfect” or if it’s allowed to be imperfect. We are all human after all. It isn’t an excuse for our wrongdoings, but it does provide us with a little cushioning when our own negative ways take over and we do something we are not proud of or something horribly wrong. Gouveia’s style is simple, reader-friendly and presents his stories in a quick pace, one thing happening after the next.
If you’re looking for a classic tale of darkness with a real-world edge to it, Killing Faith is well worth your time. I am happy to share the table of contents with him in an anthology titled, THWN Presents: New Voices in Horror. You’d do well to check out Keith’s story in there as well.