REVIEW: They Kill- Matt Converse

They Kill Book Cover They Kill
Matt Converse
Horror, Short Reads, AntHology
Marc 25, 2023

Four tales of terror.

Haunting dolls live upstairs in The Doll Lady. A psychotic serial killer is obsessed with Lady Gaga and lets the world know with each murder. A Stranger’s Rope is a modern-day nod to Hitchcock’s Rope and Strangers on a Train. Insected is a sci-fi thriller with deadly insects from another world.

These scary stories will chill you to the bone.

Review by Ulysses Dietz

Member of The Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team

Matt Converse has taken four really creepy ideas and fleshed them out into stories that were horrific enough that I couldn’t read them before bedtime.

What’s most interesting here is the each of the four long-format short stories is very different from the others. I suspect each was inspired by something in the author’s past that prompted his exploration—something that creeped him out and possibly gave him nightmares.

The Doll Lady is every bit as weird as the title suggests. My only personal experience is my reaction to a room—in a historic house, or a museum, filled with dolls. It can be very unsettling, and Converse pushes this idea to a paranoia-making limit. The lack of a real resolution at the end is even more unnerving.

Gaga for Murder is more straightforward—a serial killer who leaves Lady Gaga music playing at the scene of each killing. The author seems to be aiming at a Grand Guignolgore level (if you don’t know what that is, Google it, you should), and I particularly liked the twist at the end.

A Stranger’s Rope was possibly my favorite, because it apparently refers to two famous psychological thrillers in the film world: “Rope” and “Strangers on a Train.” Converse ratchets up a lot of anxiety and surprise in a setting intended to be placid and genteel. Another one with a nice twist.

Finally, Insected is an homage to the classic sci-fi genre involving alien invasion, which a particularly nasty twist, and a prologue that is more unsettling than the story itself. I don’t know if it was intentional, but the extreme ordinariness of the two main characters (a 90-year-old grandmother in Florida and her middle-aged son in California) was a kind of hilarious choice for a story with this apocalyptic vision.

Now, purely from my point of view, these are not stories that have any sort of gay theme, other than perhaps the Gaga example. That is sort of my focus in my reviewing, and I confess that I was a bit disappointed with that aspect of the book.

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