Latest Novel Released
E Books available below
The Devil's Doctrine
ISBN-13 : 979-8586129932
Genre: Mystery/Crime Fiction/Suspense/Thriller
Book Length: 376 Pages
Published: December 2020 Ficition4All Publishing
A series of brutal, unsolved murders of young women shocks and terrifies modern-day Louisiana. The mystery is magnified by bizarre findings at the murder scenes in New Orleans and its surrounding bayous. The murders perplex the highly trained police professionals involved, including the FBI’s violent crimes unit. Virtually no solid clues are left by the murderer, including his curiously not showing up on security cameras while some of his victims are.
Talented and insightful Private Investigator Jeremy Hale and his new assistant, criminal profiler Monica Sauvé, are asked to join a demoralized New Orleans investigation team desperate to find the perpetrator. The victim toll mounts alarmingly, and the murderer is increasingly daring.
Both Jeremy and Monica come into this investigation with unfinished business in their personal lives that they need to face and resolve. Jeremy must confront a childhood tragedy that has coloured his life. Monica must contend with a strange prophecy that her very survival will someday depend on her carrying out an important mission within herself.
The story takes you along on many unexpected, challenging twists and turns, with scenes ranging from the S&M club spots off Bourbon Street to a mysterious old mansion on a former slave plantation near the alligator-infested bayous. During the investigation, the PIs discover a shocking, dark secret deep in the history of Louisiana. Will they also discover deeper levels of themselves and their relationship?
This book is much more than a unique tale of unbridled murdering and clever sleuthing. It is also a timeless story of the struggle for personal and spiritual growth, endurance, courage, and the willingness to be open to other perspectives on reality.
Reviews for The Devil's Doctrine
Allister Thompson, Editor
The Devil's Doctrine is a crime novel with character: a vivid setting in New Orleans and the surrounding bayous, realistic characters, and strong, raw emotional content. This is more than just a story about cops hunting down a killer– it deals with generational trauma, inherited behavior, and redemption, with a touch of mysticism thrown in. It's a powerful mystery fiction debut for Peter Fratesi.
Mark Ferguson, Author
4.0 out of 5 stars - An atmospheric , dark tale
Reviewed in Canada on April 25, 2021
The Devil's Doctrine is an atmospheric, dark tale about the hunt for a serial killer in Cajun country, where alligators are only one of many concerns. Jeremy, Monica and Tony form the investigating trio, dedicated to bringing a modern day Jack the Ripper to justice. This is a story by the author of The Symbol, and Fratesi's approach is distinctive enough to give me flashbacks of that other dark novel while I read this one.
The Devil's Doctrine focuses on building history and an atmosphere first, rather than being a technical thriller. I think the clearest sign of this is shown in the faded chalk marks on the pavement, marking the death of the novel's first shown victim. This is not something modern investigators generally do, but it hits an instantly-recognizable trope nerve and gives the mood by referencing older stories, though the novel's setting is modern. Other establishers of tone and atmosphere are used throughout to good effect, reaching back into history, complete with werewolf lore and a new Ripper. Jeremy lives in the past, personally and aesthetically, and so the weight of darkness and confusion and old stories is constant throughout.
To this reviewer the novel's biggest issue is handholding the reader with overexplanation in its modern-day content. An unusual amount of restraint covers things that could be the most graphic, creepy, violent or memorable parts of the novel - for example, putting us in the BDSM club but keeping descriptions to 'ornaments' and 'paraphernalia'. Fratesi never wants to lose the reader with unanswered questions or excessively disturbing content, but for telling a whodunit with a high body count with an atmosphere of madness and past traumas the straightforward, reserved approach is a surprising choice.
There are surprises throughout the plot, and atrocities to make us want to unmask this sick freak, as well as other scumbags who deserve to at least get winged. The story flirts with supernatural elements in a respectably ambiguous way, and avoids some predictable developments. The Devil's Doctrine sets up an investigator and his friends who can have many other adventures, though it will be hard to raise the stakes above this story
E Books available below
eBook Length: 290 Pages
Published: January 2018 Double Dragon Publishing
Dr. John Polidori, an Italian born physician, moves to London in 1814. His life is thrown into turmoil after meeting the notorious poet, Lord Byron. He discovers that there are reports of mysterious disappearances around Byron’s old country estate.
Polidori takes over a story theme of Byron’s and begins writing his own story, The Vampyre. Traveling to Serbia to research his future book, he experiences terrible nightmares resembling those he’d had in his troubled childhood. When he returns to London, he is treated for the nightmares by his friend and psychiatrist, Alex Falding. However, the outcome is far from certain.
A brutal, perplexing murder happens in East London, and Scotland Yard encounters a strange symbol at the murder scene. Is this hideous murder connected to Polidori’s interest in vampirism? Do Londoners need to brace themselves for a serial killer?
This dramatic blend of Gothic horror, dark humor, and deep psychology sweeps you along to the story’s shocking conclusion. There, you discover the true meaning of The Symbol.
Reviews for The Symbol
"The Symbol by Peter Fratesi is a captivating journey through territory superficially familiar, involving figures and events of early 19th century history that any lover of literature must know, but made fresh and vivid by the vantage of his chief witness Polidori. Knowing what is coming provides an intimate sense of excitement and dread as hints are carefully laid out, from encounters with a pre-Frankenstein Mary Shelley and immersion in the legends that we know will produce Stoker’s Dracula, to a view of the London East End’s desperation and danger before the Ripper. The language is evocative but not overwrought, and his fictional characters blend well with the historical figures, maintaining a consistent level of detail and interest. The horror is effectively executed with ominous clues and apparent dead ends of speculation, confidently abandoning the comforts of strict logic and tidy summaries to emphasize the confusion and vague foreboding that defines lurking, gothic fear.
In fiction such as this there is the difficulty of having a relatable protagonist in a time of relatively backward social attitudes, and the absurdity of trying to solve this problem by simply inserting a person with enlightened, 21st century attitudes toward class and gender and sexuality and race into such a year as ~1815. Fratesi’s Polidori is almost unbelievably likable for where and when he exists, but he is young and naïve and somewhat sheltered by a rich upbringing, making his progressive and uncorrupted stance digestible. The issue still persists in the ability of Fratesi’s characters to be so direct and open even about personal subjects in a way that is natural to many of us today after the lifting of numerous taboos, but feeling out of place in a time of such antiquated customs. Making a choice between historicity and relatability, I think the right choice was made; giving his characters modern candidness makes the narrative more efficient, and for the most part it is a success. When the criticism is that some parts feel rushed along by the plot, this indicates that the setting was well-constructed and the reader wanted to stay longer. "
Mark Ferguson, Author
"A chilling tale that spans both decades and the European continent, Peter Fratesi's The Symbol is a fascinating read. A mix of horror and historical fiction, The Symbol tells the story of John Polidori, a troubled Italian noble who aims to make a name for himself in England's literary circles. Serving as Lord Byron's personal physician, Polidori befriends the artistic elite and before long, finds himself writing a novel based on one of Byron's discarded ideas.
Polidori's work begins to take on a life on its own; John is convinced that his fictional creation is somehow responsible for a string of gruesome murders and he goes to great lengths to ease his mind and stop his vicious conceptual monster.
Well written and well researched, The Symbol is a study in truth - both personal and empirical. Scientific reality is pitted against supernatural belief in an exciting manner; I particularly enjoyed the depictions of medical science and supernatural divination as they were practiced in the early 1800s. Brisk and thoroughly entertaining, despite the occasionally grim subjects at hand, The Symbol is well worth a read."
“Peter Fratesi’s debut novel is an impressive contribution to the genre of Gothic fiction. He expertly mixes a classic tale of horror with period settings and well-developed characters. His use of real figures like Lord Byron and Percy and Mary Shelley is particularly interesting and often amusing. However, the oppressive expectancy of horrors to come is what makes this novel a true page-turner.”
Allister Thompson, Editor
"I really enjoyed your character development throughout the book. I never quite knew what to expect chapter after chapter. You made it so that I was always left guessing about what would happen next! Every page and chapter kept me curious. Even until the very end- I would have never guessed such an ending."
Book Club Members
"Enjoyable and well done, easy to follow. ...I was interested in what was going to happen and was anxious to find out what would happen next. For me this is the sign of liking a book."
"Liked it, yes, yes, yes. Very engaging, writing was good. Very visual and realistic. It was a page turner."
"Well done- much better than many books I've read. Make it a trilogy."
"I can't believe this is your first book! Well done!"
What Inspired My Writing The Symbol?
Sometimes, extraordinary ideas begin in the most ordinary moments. The summer of 2013 found me with a lot of time on my hands waiting in the doctor’s office for a routine check-up. Listlessly, I picked up the March 12 edition of MacLean’s magazine. There was an article by writer Bruce Bethune, citing findings of William and Nicholas Klingamon, authors of 1816: The Year Without a Summer. It was about the Tambora volcano that exploded on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa over 200 years ago, in 1815. The aftermath was terrible. The biggest volcanic eruption in 2000 years released a cloud of dust and gases over much of the earth, causing destructive weather patterns, crop failures and famines. However, it also had profound effects in many areas of human endeavor, including the arts and literature.
The article intrigued me enough to do further research on the period. It turned out that the dark, stormy weather trapped a band of brilliant writers indoors during their vacation on the shores of Lake Geneva, in 1816. The writers were none other than the famous Romantic poets, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, as well as Mary Godwin (the future Mary Shelley), then an unknown writer. A physician, Dr. John Polidori was another member of the group.
Hoping to entertain his bored and frustrated companions, Byron proposed that each compose a horror story. With an electrical storm in the background, Mary fell into a daydream and created the seeds of the classic Gothic horror story, Frankenstein. Byron created a short, incomplete tale which inspired Polidori to write his novel, The Vampyre, the first Gothic vampire story. This was the forerunner of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, over three-quarters of a century later, and the vampire tradition of many subsequent modern books and movies such as Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles.
I was also fascinated to learn that tragedy eventually stalked all of the creative group of writers of Lake Geneva, in different ways.
I thought that these unique historical happenings would make for a wonderful piece of fiction. A very dark, Gothic horror story began to form in my imagination and never let go. I worked on it, immersed in the story, over the next three years. I learned that the writer forms the story but the story also captures and propels forward its author. So, in 2016, after several professional edits, my precious manuscript for The Symbol was finally born. May it truly frighten all those who dare to read it!