The Seven Days of Peter Crumb
Jonny Glynn

Harper Perennial
Trade Paperback, $13.95
Review by Sheila Merritt

A lesson learned from reading horror fiction: Not all psychopaths are created equal. American Psycho and the Hannibal Lecter series have urbane, sophisticated serial killers. Other fictional psychos have been presented as functional folk, able to maintain a veneer of normality in spite of their extracurricular activities. This is not the case with Peter Crumb. He is barely able to interact in society. His degeneration into madness is documented in detail in his diary/journal. It is packed with all kinds of unsavory information, such as his bodily functions, unsanitary hygiene, and fondness for sanguinary sensation. All this perpetuates his self-loathing: “I sat in the gutter, hiding my broken face in the rubbish, ashamed of myself and of my tears and of me. Ashamed of me, and my awful venal stinking self. Ashamed to be, or have been.”

He has dialogues with his “other” self who is not so much a Hyde to his Jekyll, but more of a seedier manifestation of his seamy self-conscious. Tormented by tragedy, Peter goes on a week long escapade of killing and carnage, documenting it all in a diary of the damned. In more lucid moments, he waxes philosophical about violence in society: “It’s curious — we consider murder and bloodshed in the twenty-first century an abomination, but we’re at it more than ever. Look around you folks — blood flows as merrily as beer on tap.”

The Seven Days of Peter Crumb is a tough book. There is much wallowing in the muck, and the bleak outlook requires a commitment by the reader to forge ahead, and read more. Yet, this unsparing, uncompromising work does pack a punch. Author Jonny Glynn took risks in his graphic descriptions, and in creating a character who lacks the art and artifice of a calculated charisma. For readers with strong stomachs, who can handle the bile with the vile, this is a recommended read.

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