Posts Tagged Blood Related
What people are saying about ‘Blood Related’ (Review, Thriller, Amazon, Goodreads, Bookworm’s Bookmark)
Blood Related by William Cook: 5 of 5 Stars
For over two decades, Detective Ray Truman has been searching for the killer, or killers, who have terrorized Portvale. Headless corpses, their bodies mutilated and posed, have been turning up all over the industrial district near the docks. Young female prostitutes had been the killer’s victims of choice, but now other districts are reporting the gruesome discovery of decapitated bodies. It seems the killer has expanded his territory as more ‘nice girls’ feel the wrath of his terrible rage.
Meet the Cunninghams… A family bound by evil and the blood they have spilled. The large lodging-house they live in and operate on Artaud Avenue reeks of death, and the sins that remain trapped beneath the floorboards. Ray Truman’s search for a killer leads him to the Cunningham’s house of horrors. What he finds there will ultimately lead him to regret ever meeting Caleb Cunningham and the deviant family that spawned him. The hunter becomes the hunted, as Truman digs deeper into the abyss that is the horrifying mind of the most dangerous psychopath he has ever met.
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Blood Related is a psychological roller-coaster. I couldn’t put it down. The nature or nurture theme comes across strongly. Reflective of Caleb and Charlie Cunningham’s disturbing family background and the outcome of what could be only described as twisted parenting. Parents (Ella and Vera’s) poison continues to bleed into the adult lives of two brothers. The madness of their crimes is chilling, and persistence of Ray Truman whose goal is to bring them to Justice – leads the story into an endless horror fest for the reader.
The Cunningham’s childhood home becomes a house of horrors. Spine chilling gore and the insight into the mind of a serial killer kept me hooked. In my mind’s eye I could imagine the carnage, sense the emotions, with that feeling of watching a horror movie at every twist and turn, I wanted to look away, but couldn’t.
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William Cook has a talent of making the story come to life. And if this is your choice of genre, then you are in for a treat.
No Spoilers Intended
Debbie Allen (see all Debbie’s reviews)
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Reblogged from the fantastic Bookworm’s Bookmark
Review, Debbie Allen, William Cook, Blood Related, 5-star, Horror, Thriller, Bookworm’s Bookmark
I have been lucky with my experiences online – meeting lots of fantastic readers and writers alike. Mr Servante is an author who has been an immeasurable support for my own writing and has provided some of the more insightful and poignant reviews of my work in the past. So when he asked if I’d be interested in getting involved with his latest project: Killers and Horror: Ink Black, Blood Red I jumped at the opportunity. Anthony, once again, proved his skill in critically analyzing a number of fantastic works by Billie Sue Mosiman, Mark Parker, and Christine Morgan, alongside Blood Related, in relation to the portrayal of fictional violence and the comparison of non-fictional descriptions of infamous serial crimes. Here is the blurb:
Killers and Horror: Ink Black, Blood Red by Anthony Servante is a critical look at the horror of real killers versus imagined killers as analyzed in four fiction novels and three nonfiction books, featuring works by Billie Sue Mosiman, Mark Parker, Christine Morgan, and William Cook in fiction, and discussing real-life murderers, including Ed Gein, the original “Psycho”, El Sicario, a Mexican hit-man, and Richard Kulinski, The Ice Man, a Mafia contract killer. He discusses specific murders, the reasons for these deaths, and the personal motives of the killers. He also addresses the role of the reader who chooses visceral books with anti-heroes. WARNING: EXTREME GRAPHIC KILLINGS DESCRIBED.
The following is an excerpt from Killers and Horror (permission kindly granted by Mr Servante) pertaining to his analysis of Blood Related:
“Which brings us to Blood Related by William Cook . . .
“Meet the Cunninghams . . . A family bound by evil and the blood they have spilled.
Meet Caleb Samael Cunningham, a diabolical serial-killer with an inherited psychopathology, passed down via a blood-soaked genealogy. Caleb is a disturbed young man whose violent father is a suspected serial killer and mother, an insane alcoholic. After his Father’s suicide, Cunningham’s disturbing fantasy-life becomes reality, as he begins his killing spree in earnest. His identical twin brother Charlie is to be released from an asylum and all hell is about to break loose, when the brothers combine their deviant talents.”
William Cook kills via a family of psychotic butchers. In his docu-crime drama, Cook employs a narrative style that floats between letters, newspaper accounts, third person perspectives from a law enforcer on the hunt for the killer(s), and the first person account of a set of sociopathetic twins whose mental ramblings veer between insane genius and sick sanity. The reader walks a thin line between fiction and nonfiction as Cook’s prose style shifts between demented frames of mind with seamless ease.
The reign of terror begins with Grandpa Cunningham, father Errol Cunningham, and the twins Charlie and Caleb. Grandpa and Errol are sadists who kill for sadistic pleasure. Errol and his crazed wife Vera teach their young boys to dispose of the bodies of their old man’s victims, just as likely Grandpa taught his son Errol. After Errol commits suicide as the law closes in on him, we learn that Charlie and Caleb have been killing victims on their own. Thus the police are confused and track two killers, the Portvale Serial Killer and the Dockside Ripper, little knowing that they are both members of the Cunningham clan. Cook uses his poetic style to blend the twins into one character, where the reader at times sees Charlie and Caleb clearly, but at other times, we cannot tell when we are seeing Charlie and/or Caleb. And to further confound the reader, Cook even blends elements of Errol into the mix. Caleb looks into the mirror and sees Errol, then Charlie. He no longer sees himself, though he knows (most of the time) that he is in fact Caleb. Furthermore, this mix takes on overtones of the supernatural (floating skulls and apparitions), but we know that the killer has gone completely insane. His only lucid moments come in dreams that have truths and frenzied fantasies interwoven. Reality and dream become the same images Caleb sees. And through it all, murder is the only means to separate the real from the hallucinations. This does not bode well for the Portvale population.
Ray Truman is the cop on the trail of the killer(s). He is the opposite of the Cunningham clan. He comes from a family of cops. He married a cop. His quest is for justice. But when he becomes a detective and tracks the Cunningham family, he faces the abyss once too often and does not hesitate to become a monster to stop these murderous fiends. It is he who suspects that the Cunninghams are responsible for the slew of deaths and missing persons, and it is he who first notices that the young twins are not so alike: Truman
“thought about Charlie Cunningham, realizing that when he thought of that psycho he couldn’t help but picture Cuntingham senior. He looked at the only mug-shot on the wall he had of a young Caleb and saw both Charlie and Errol in his dark eyes. He thought of how Caleb looked the last time he’d seen him, the scar that ran from his forehead to his chin had changed his face so he looked like his brother but not like his father, it was kind of hard to explain. Charlie was more like his old man than Caleb was. Caleb was a different beast altogether…”
He understands the danger that Caleb poses is far greater than his brother Charlie, but Caleb is the abyss that looks into the soul of the lawman. They both know only one of them will survive.
Caleb takes exception to the lawman’s fixation on him; he says, “The only reason Ray Truman suspected me of any of the unsolved murders in the Portvale region and surrounding city boroughs, was by way of association. Crime by association, that is my family legacy – tainted with the same lust to kill, the same burning urge, passed on down from generation to generation. And I am guilty. Guilty of the crime of being a Cunningham, and an exceptional killing machine.” He is offended by the accusation at the same time that he boasts of Truman being right about his guilt.
Because Cook portrays the Cunninghams so realistically, down to the newspaper accounts, it is easy to accept these killers as possible characters based on actual serial killers. I asked the author about this concern of mine. He answered, “I made the characters up – actually using an old friend of mine as the character study for Charlie Cunningham but they are both indeed composite characters of ‘types’ of Serial Offenders. There were aspects of some serial killers I used and I also used old case files from some vintage Detective magazines that I own (not verbatim of course). For example, the scene where Charlie places a pen in a shop-keeper’s ear and kicks it is actually a true rendition of a case where that actually happened. Nothing weirder or more horrifying than reality.
More info here about the process: https://bloodrelated.wordpress.com.
Cook holds up a mirror to art with his work, as a book about serial killers and as a work of art in its aesthetic theme. Blood Related is a work of art. It depicts killers. The killer kills for art to engage viewers and the media to his form of murder. The author and the main character blend in the poetic gray area of sophistry. Is it Cook or Caleb explaining the artistic aesthetic of death? As such, Cook is commenting on the real serial killers and their various reasons for killing (think Hannibal who kills to weed out the brutes of society, to make it a better place in essence); the Ice Man thinks the world is better off without the low-lifes and bullies that he kills. Cook has taken his “anti-hero” to a whole new level—as a comment on Art with a capital A. (I think of Buckets of Blood, the movie that depicted death as a comment on art via the Beat Era thinking of gaining immortality via art). Caleb confesses, “I wanted to see the world. Maybe become a better person one day. God knows I had tried, but my urge to create runs deep – killing’s in my blood.” He equates “creating” with killing. Hannibal Lecter equated cuisine with his murders. Is it the painter or the picture standing in the gallery?
We have seen how our fiction and nonfiction killers have been influenced by Pulp Crime Novels and lurid Detective Magazines. Cook takes this influence one step further with Caleb’s choice of reading: “Charlie liked the instinctual driven nature of Raskolnikov and felt that he learned a lot about avoiding capture, thanks to Dostoyevsky’s thorough analysis of the crime of murder committed by his protagonist. Charlie swore the author must have killed before to write with such intimate knowledge of the emotions befitting such a crime. The clarity of experience shone like light on the bloody hands of the killer.” Caleb also learns from the traditional trashy fare: “‘True Crime’ literature was my next step into the dark corners of the human mind – my own mind to be exact. I quivered with excitement and guilty pleasure as I thumbed through the volumes filled with the most horrible aspects of humanity. I recognized myself between the lines. I found kindred spirits on these pages; new heroes filled my world as I read voraciously, devouring the methods and the means to avoid detection and to make my mark on the world.” His master plan comes together as he takes refuge at his grandfather’s deserted farmhouse.
In this sense, Caleb’s killing of the German Shepherd, who resembled the dog from his grandfather’s ranch, symbolized the annihilation of his own psychosis, the putting down of a rabid dog, himself. Other images of himself appear as feral animals, including the wolf he destroys. Caleb is psychologically cleaning house; he even remarks his need for antibiotics and antipsychotics, the two drugs that would return him to a sane state where he could start over. We understand that he is still a killer, but repressed by medication, he can start over, re-imagine his art, and perhaps some day, stop taking the meds and resume his murderous work. This is Caleb’s way of thinking as he wraps up his catalog of deaths with the final killing we witness at his grandfather’s ranch. He has transcended the role of serial killer in much the same way that Hannibal Lecter took his killings to culinary heights: Two madmen who see no difference between fiction and nonfiction killings, between art and reality, between Hieronymus Bosch and Norman Rockwell.
Later we learn that the twins’ father, Errol, had a similar taste for the perverse: “Errol’s father trapped and killed stray cats and dogs in his backyard, enjoying their agonized death throes and often forcing his son to participate in the culling.” Caleb realizes that life had dealt him a losing hand from a stacked deck: “[I]f my parentage had been different – if the circumstance of my youth was not what it had been – then I may have been different. It wasn’t nature or nurture that dealt me the cards I played with now, more of a divine providence that gave me the tools I had at my disposal. These same tools allowed me to step into Pa’s mind’s eye through his words and see what he saw, feel what he felt.” Keep in mind that real serial killer Richard K surmised the same line of thinking, that he had become his brutal, angry father by trying to escape him.
The Portvale murders cease for a while but resume with slight variations, leading police to believe a “new” killer was on the scene or a copycat (as we’ve seen with Widow). But it was a case of father handing down the tradition of death to his sons, who, though at first reluctant to assume the mantel, learned to appreciate the pleasures of the hunt and kill. “Whoever made it out of the basement alive, was mine to play with in the tunnels below,” says Caleb with pride. The twins were picking up the crumbs left to them by their father. The reason for the confusion of the police: there are three killers at work, Errol, Charlie and Caleb. Cook in essence “recreates” killers who are traditional; Caleb seeks to emulate the real serial killers he has grown to idolize. He even lists his top ten, some of whom we’ve already discussed in the nonfiction section earlier: “Ted Bundy – Green River Killer Gary Ridgeway – The Ice Man Richard Kuklinski – H. H. Holmes – The Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe – The Zodiac Killer – The Dusseldorf Monster Peter Kurten – The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run – The Night Stalker Richard Ramirez – Jack The Ripper.” Caleb’s sleeping arrangements also reflect his new taste for the grotesque and the visceral. “My mattress sat on a bed-base I had constructed from old wooden packing cases and the walls were covered in posters and pictures ripped from library books and magazines. The various pictures juxtaposed with each other, the naked bodies of centerfold models set alongside the images of naked corpses of concentration camp victims.” He can no longer distinguish between arousal and blood-lust.
William Cook has created a crafty killer in Caleb whose roots in the Cunningham atrocities across two generations have been honed in the mad genius of the last member of the clan. As such, the reader may confuse fiction with nonfiction, for Caleb is so well drawn that one must blink twice now and then to check on the raison d’etre of the book. It is fiction. But there is no safety here, as there was in our other fiction books; the reader must plunge into the mind of the Cunninghams without the net, as we did with our nonfiction works. It is a perfect denouement to this look at killers and horror.
Killers roam the streets of everyday life. We are at their mercy. But the odds are so small that we will become victims that we feel safe. In reading about our nonfiction killers, the odds increased, and our safety net was lowered, depending on how much we empathized with our killers and how much we cringed that more such killers are out there. In reading about our fiction killers, however, our safety net was raised. Our killers here were romanticized, distanced with humor, and portrayed in nonfiction variations. It is the fiction killer who seems real that fascinates us the most as we feel the danger at hand. It is a roller-coaster ride where we are safely locked in, but a ride that can go wrong with the shredding of one important bolt. With the nonfiction, it wasn’t about a fun ride; it was about facing our fears head-on, traveling into the heart of darkness where Kurtz and Horror await. If, like Marlowe, we can return from this darkness, then we appreciate our civilized lives all the more. But then, what if we don’t return? That’s always the risk we enjoy taking whether it’s in fiction or nonfiction, with real killers or imagined. Because sometimes we learn that there is safety in the darkness, for who of us hasn’t a bit of the killer in their heart? Certainly not us, right?”
Thankyou to Anthony again. Please make sure to buy a copy of Killers and Horror: Ink Black, Blood Red by Anthony Servante. While you’re there, check out Anthony’s other works – he has a real penchant for horror and you’ll see this aesthetic carried through most of his works. Also, pay a visit to Servante of Darkness: Horror, SF, and Noir. Words & Sounds for the Living where he elucidates the following commendable philosophy:
“In literature these are the eras agreed upon by academics: Medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment, Romantic, Victorian, Naturalism/Realism, Existentialism, Beat, Modern and Post Modern. Did you know that the genre of Horror has no eras because academia does not consider it a legitimate field of study. I consider horror to begin with the Romantic (Frankenstein), Victorian (Dracula), Golden (Cthulhu), Silver (Manitou, The Keep, The Rats), and Cyber (which is today’s use of the internet by both e-authors and paper authors). Although academia has only begun to listen to me and my categorization of the cybernocturnal as a new form of literature, I storm ahead with my chronology of horror and hope that the academics will catch up. This is our field, what we read, what we write, what we discuss. We can’t wait for some anthropologist to decide what “horror” is 100 years from now. It’s our responsibility today. That’s what the Servante of Darkness is all about. I write reviews. I discuss literary trends. I interview people of note. I can be reached at email@example.com”
Billie Sue Mosiman, Mark Parker, Christine Morgan, Anthony Servante, Killers and Horror: Ink Black, Blood Red, Literature, Critique, Blood Related, William Cook, Amazon, Kindle,
Amazon, Anthony Servante, Billie Sue Mosiman, Blood Red, Blood Related, Christine Morgan, Critique, Dark Fiction, horror, Killers and Horror: Ink Black, Kindle, Literature, Mark Parker, serial killers, Violence, William Cook
Recently, Donald White asked me to do an interview for his writer’s blog and this was the result. Be sure to check out Donald’s website for lots of interesting features on writing and up and coming writers. Also if any of you out there haven’t read Blood Related and would like a FREE kindle (only) copy, please leave a comment below this post/thread. Any of you out there who have read and enjoyed Blood Related, I would be grateful for a short review left on Amazon if you can manage it. Every little bit helps 🙂 Have a great week. Will.
An Interview with William Cook
The Writer’s Blog welcomes the inimitable William Cook! Please tell us a little about yourself.
Hi and thanks for having me here Donald. I like to think of myself as primarily a writer first and an artist second. I live in New Zealand at the foot of the world, happily married with four daughters, in charge of the house and looking after the two youngest girls. I have been writing weird stories ever since I was a kid. My first published works were poems in various literary journals in NZ and a few in the States. Back in 1996 I published a collection of verse titled ‘Journey: The Search for Something’ and had the occasional poem and short story published online, but nothing really of note until 2010 when Lee Pletzers from Triskaideka Books accepted my story ‘The Devil Inside’ for the 2010 Masters of Horror Anthology. I have always loved the Horror genre and dark literature, so this really inspired me to write what I loved rather than what I thought other people wanted to read and it has finally started to pay off. The thing I love about the Horror/Thriller genres is that a good story will get your pulse racing and your heart thumping. I feel it is the best medium to create a world where the reader feels alive because they are experiencing fear of some sort. Sounds sadistic I know, but I personally find that no other genre gives me the thrills I seek when I immerse myself in a fictional world. I have since had quite a few Horror shorts published in various anthologies.
My novel ‘Blood Related,’ was re-released by Black Bed Sheet Books Halloween 2012. Writing it was a labor of love and took me roughly six years to write and it wasn’t until I changed day-jobs that I had the time to bring it all together as my debut novel. The novel is about a disturbed young man called Caleb Cunningham, whose violent father is a suspected serial killer and mother, an insane alcoholic. After his father’s suicide, Cunningham’s disturbing fantasy-life becomes reality, as he begins his killing spree in earnest. His identical twin brother Charlie is released from an asylum and all hell is about to break loose, when the brothers combine their deviant talents. Blood Related is a serial-killer/crime novel told in a first-person narrative style from the killer’s (Caleb’s) point-of-view.
I have been privileged to have authors I look up to, give me feedback on Blood Related. People like Jonathan Nasaw, Guy N Smith, Laird Barron, Mark Edward Hall, John Paul Allen, and Nicholas Grabowsky, have all been kind enough to read and review my work – something I would never have believed possible until now.
Not only a talented author, but you are also an excellent artist. Tell us what it is like to create such gruesome works of art.
Well it all depends on the work of course but generally speaking, for some reason I can’t explain, my preference has always been depicting darkly ghoulish things. I have recently moved away from using traditional painting/drawing methods and now do 90% of all my work with Photoshop and digital mediums. I get my inspiration from my dreams and the various pop-cultural works I peruse, i.e. film, comics, fiction and music. I will usually start with a small sketch in a notebook or write down an idea of an art-piece that comes to mind (descriptively) before taking digital photographs of textures, trees, people and other subjects that interest me. I’ll then bring everything together via Photoshop and use it to add darkness, depth and dimension to my original vision. It is hardly ever reproduced physically apart from the occasional print or book cover so I like to call it my ‘virtual dark art.’ With each passing year I am less interested in the visceral gore-infused stuff that I used to produce, instead, I am leaning towards ‘quiet’ horror these days and subtlety is something I strive for in both my visual and written work.
Blood Related was your first novel and, arguably, most controversial work to date. Explain how you were able to get into the minds of the two main characters.
Blood Related combined a lifelong interest in the macabre with a lot of research into true crime and serial killers. I can trace my interest in this morbid subject to an event in my life when I was younger, whereby my best friend shot another friend of mine (his ex-girlfriend) and then killed himself. Obviously, this would leave a lasting impression on most people as it did to me. Subsequently I began to wonder why a large percentage of humans treat each other so badly and have a tendency towards self-destruction and nihilistic behavior. This aspect of my inquiring mind is constantly reinforced (the questions) by the media who use such occurrences to perpetually sensationalize ‘news’ and by our so-called leaders who use fear to drive political agendas. The politics of fear are very much a staple diet of news-hungry consumers who seem to relish lurid accounts of human cruelty and abuse, and (so it seems) probably the same reasons fiction is full of the horrors of human behavior.
There are plenty of fictional books that deal with the subject of serial murder and during the research I conducted for BR, a perceptible ‘canon’ of such literature dating all the way back to Gutenberg and beyond (The Bible/Quran etc) became apparent to me. Apart from being of interest for research purposes, serial killer fiction has always intrigued me and some of the first ‘adult’ books I ever read as a young teenager dealt with the subject. Probably the two biggest influences on my writing of BR were Colin Wilson’s ‘The Killer’ and James Ellroy’s brutal ‘Killer on the Road.’ I have always wanted to write a first-person novel and the six years I spent writing BR were the result of this desire. I never thought the book would see the light of day but it all seemed to come together quickly when I bought a new lap-top and within three months of shopping it around to various indie presses it was published. I’m not sure that I would write another first-person serial killer novel as it (the subject matter and the book) consumed my thoughts for a long time. I found it a lot more disturbing to write about psychopathic humans than I do writing tales of horror that deal with more supernatural and fantastical elements. The most frightening aspect, to writing BR and creating believable characterizations of serial killers, is how easy it was to contemplate and describe such characters and their sordid crimes. BR lends itself to a sequel and I have made sure that the next book will be told in the third person, for the sake of my own sanity.
You are also quite the poet, having released two collections: Moment of Freedom and Temper of the Tide. How does one achieve true feeling in verse?
Before I began writing stories I wrote poems. The first ‘real’ poem I remember was Blake’s ‘Tyger’ and I have enjoyed reading and writing verse ever since. My first published work was in verse-form and my first published book was a collection of my poems back in 1996, titled ‘Journey: the Search for Something.’ The verse has nearly always ‘written itself’ and generally comes after periods of introspection or strong emotional experience. Most of my early work was terrible heart-wrought angst spewed onto the page as fast as I could write it and thankfully, with a bit of experience and a more temperate lifestyle, I have stopped referring to my emotions when I write poetry. ‘True feeling’ is a completely subjective experience, both on and off the page; the only thing I can suggest in response to your question is that honesty needs to be employed when writing poetry that deals with emotion or the translation thereof. Cadence is also important and I have always tried to use onomatopoeia in my verse in order to convey the ‘sense’ of whatever it is I’m trying to impart. Simplicity is also important; there is no point writing convoluted expressionistic verse, if no one is ever going to understand what it is you are trying to say! After writing poetry for over twenty years I think I have finally began to find my voice and I think it is important to have your own voice as a poet, in a medium so canonically reliant on style and form. In other words, write from the heart with the mind as your guiding light, in a voice of your own making. Easier said than done, right?
Tell us about your work with JWK Fiction. What advice would you give writers looking to submit stories?
JWK Fiction [http://jwkfiction.com/] has published quite a few poems and short stories of mine and I’m happy to recommend James and the team to any aspiring writer of Horror and Speculative fiction. I think that a large part of having stories accepted for publication in the indie presses, is to write well (obviously) and to read the submission guidelines carefully. A lot of writers out there have a hard-drive full of stories that they want to see published, make sure the story you submit is what the publisher is looking for. It sounds basic but if you’re going to spend time tailoring a previously written story to fit a submission call you may as well start fresh and write something new with the guidelines in mind. I made this mistake (reanimating old work) when I was first starting out and the rejections came in thick and fast, as soon as I started writing fresh stories for specific guidelines I started having success with my submissions. If you submit a lot of stories I would also suggest keeping a record of your subs including story titles, word counts and dates etc. It saves embarrassment and time wasting if you’re simultaneously submitting stories and then having to remember if they’ve been accepted elsewhere etc.
Who are your three favorite authors and how have they influenced your work?
Robert Bloch, Flannery O’Connor, Sherwood Anderson (I have more than three). I love the way they convey human emotion, particularly fear, through the short story medium. They are the writers of psychological drama who I enjoy reading the most. Without reading these writers I probably would have never written short stories – very inspirational and efficient writers, who better to emulate.
What are you working on right now?
I am midway through the sequel to Blood Related titled ‘Blood Trail’, finishing edits on an anthology that JWK Fiction is publishing called ‘Fresh Fear’ [http://www.williamcookwriter.com/p/blog-page_26.html] with stories from the likes of Ramsey Campbell, Billie Sue Mosiman, JF Gonzalez, Jack Dann, Robert Dunbar, amongst others, and working on two separate collections of my short fiction and poetry.
Thank you for joining us on The Writer’s Blog, William. We look forward to more horrific masterpieces to come…
William Cook links:
William Cook is a writer of the macabre from New Zealand, a small antipodean island group in the South Pacific. When not writing, he looks after two small daughters and designs book covers that are designed to scare the hell out of people. Having held down a multitude of jobs before becoming a “Domestic Manager”, he brings to his writing a vast array of experience that translates to the page in the form of strange characters and situations that bleed horror. From slinging timber in lumber yards, cutting plastic film in a meat packaging company, making rat-poison and acid cleaning products, working on a prawn trawler in the Gulf of Carpenteria, selling ads, and teaching English in Korea, to name a few of the roles he has performed – being a starving writer of Horror fiction seemed like a completely viable occupation.
Currently working on a sequel to his debut novel ‘Blood related’, titled ‘Blood Trail’, it is due for completion mid-year and for publication by his amazing publisher Black Bed Sheet Books sometime in the hereafter.
Written by William Cook
Reviewed by Char Hardin
May I introduce the Cunningham Family: father who is a suspected serial killer who dies by his own hand who is married to an insane alcoholic combined they beget two sons who follow in their father’s footsteps Caleb and Charlie inherited more than dysfunctional family traits they inherited a blood soaked heritage that caused the boys to rain down a legacy of terror and death.
The beginning of the story is a preface by the psychiatrist Dr. Mary Brunswick who tells how she worked with Charlie during his trial and then after he was sentenced how his brother Caleb approached her with his own tales of murder. The trust between doctor and patient was built on the confidentiality clause that she could not break. He was free with his accounts and then disappeared. Just reading the preface was a strong indication of the content of the pages to come. I consumed this story in one sitting. One word to describe what William Cook has accomplished…TERRIFYING.
Blood Related kept me up all night on the edge of my recliner, chewing on my fingernails and constantly looking to my front door to note that it was indeed locked. Each murderous account drew me deeper into the psyche of the killers to marinate as I tried to fathom what created these modern day monsters. Fans of American Psycho will eat this book up. Throughout the text, I couldn’t shake the creepy feeling that I was being watched and at one point rose long enough to turn on the light battle back the encroaching darkness. When at last I turned to the final page, I drew in a deep breath and noticed my fingers were white and tightly gripping my laptop as I read the story.
Upon further reflection and glancing back at my notes, I was relieved that I text was well edited. I do detest reading a story and feeling like I am deprived of the enjoyment as a reader, when the text is so riddled with errors and misspellings that I become an editor instead of a reader…not so with this book.
One thing I would have liked on some of the murders, it felt like I was being overly told of the circumstance instead of being allowed to feel and be shown the events as they played out. It is something even I as a writer suffer with telling more and showing less. It does not reflect badly on the author and in no way takes away from the flow of the story. It is just a “feeling” I got at times and could be only “felt” by me.
This is a male dominated story with women playing a less than glamorous role and more of an object to be to thrust pain and degradation upon. This did not bother me, but to those out there it does, then you may just pass on Blood Related or in any case be warned this is not boy meets girl and falls in love and lives happily ever after. No, more like boy meets girl and thinks of ways to take her apart and then does so piece by bloody piece. Personally…I loved every blood soaked page!
I would recommend this story to my horror readers, especially to the ones who love serial killers. Blood Related will not disappoint. I would like to add also while reading the story at times, I had to pause and whisper. “This is fiction. This is only fiction and is not real.” After I went to bed, I left the light on and slept fitfully as I just couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. Awesome book 4 Out of 5!
Check out Char’s cool blog here.
William Cook ‘Blood Related’ Review
Written by: Drake Morgan
William Cook’s Blood Related delves into the mind and dark psychology of a serial killer named Caleb Cunningham. The story centers around Cunningham and his family who have all been connected to a series of brutal murders over a number of years. The story begins with a psychiatric overview and then progresses to Caleb’s version of events.
The format of the narrative is interesting in that it makes not two shifts, but several. The first chapter is a first-person perspective from a court appointed psychiatrist. Through her, we get a very rough overview of the Cunninghams. We learn that there are twin brothers, both deeply psychotic and sinister. The psychiatrist examines Charlie during the course of a trial, but then becomes heavily involved with Caleb. We learn that Caleb is the true monster and the bulk of the narrative then becomes Caleb’s diaries, journals, and psychiatric sessions. Later chapters shift again to a series of newspaper articles giving the reader a final summary of the events that Caleb’s first-person account misses. The novel closes with a series of letters from Caleb explaining his motives and leaving the reader and his doctor with a cryptic goodbye.
Caleb’s story is fairly straightforward. Abused as a child, he’s described as “evil,” “one of the most dangerous men alive,” and the like. Cook’s writing is fluid and descriptive, but Caleb’s exploits take on mythological proportions as the story progresses. Cook goes to great length in his research of abnormal psychology. He skillfully uses the terminology and psychiatric evaluations to create an authentic element to the narrative. Caleb’s excesses are in stark contrast to the realism in other areas and it’s a jarring juxtaposition at times.
As a study in dark psychology, Blood Related is an interesting tale. Cook does an excellent job grappling with the disturbed mind. Psychiatry struggles with the abnormal that goes beyond the human comprehension of evil. Cook takes on the challenge of this struggle and handles it well. A more subtle handling of Caleb’s story would have added a great deal to the psychological framework. Definitely worth a read for the insight into a twisted mind.
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Blood Related – The Novel
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Introduction to Blood Related – The Kindle Book Review Nominee for Thrillers (Semifinalist)
Sooooo, I decided to make the leap and relaunch Blood Related with BBSB, who have also offered to publish the sequel when it’s finished (Blood Trail – on track for an August wrap). I didn’t expect to make a lot of money from my book in the short term and feel that is a pretty unrealistic expectation for any debut Indie author, but I have big plans for the complete saga and feel that positioning the work with BBSB will best serve this purpose. That is, not to make money but to grow as a series with an increased focus on the Horror of it all (and hopefully make a few dollars on the way).
Nicholas Grabowsky has been an unflinching ally since I approached him over a year ago about Blood Related – the timing wasn’t right then, but the stars have aligned so to speak and i’m very happy to be on board (post August 1, 2012) with Captain Grabowsky at the helm. Amongst many other things, Nicholas is the author of Halloween IV and The Everborn, and has a long pedigree of involvement in the Indie and Pro Horror markets. As a result of his tireless work within the Horror industry he has attracted an impressive stable of authors to BBSB. Black Hamster TV is another wing of BBSB’s diverse media presence online and real world: you may have heard of ‘Francy & Friends Radio‘, Hacker’s Source, or Shot in the Dark Comics, all affiliates of BBSB.
|Click on the banner to buy discounted copies of Blood Related in all versions direct from the publisher (recommended) – you can even buy a Blood Related t-shirt if you’re a fan! While you’re there make sure to check out the other BBSB authors – some great writers there and heaps of cool things to look at too. Support Indie Horror!|
Blood Related – Synopsis
For over two decades, Detective Ray Truman has been searching for the killer or killers who have terrorized Portvale. Headless corpses, their bodies mutilated and posed, have been turning up all over the industrial district near the docks. The remains of young female prostitutes have been the killer’s victims of choice, but now other districts are reporting the gruesome discovery of decapitated bodies. It seems the killer has expanded his territory as more ‘nice girls’ feel the wrath of his terrible rage.
Meet the Cunninghams . . .
A family bound by evil and the blood they have spilled. The large lodging-house they live in and operate on Artaud Avenue reeks of death and the sins that remain trapped beneath the floorboards.
Meet Caleb Cunningham . . .
Caleb is a disturbed young man whose violent father is a suspected serial killer and mother, an insane alcoholic. After his Father’s suicide, Cunningham’s disturbing fantasy-life becomes reality, as he begins his killing spree in earnest. His identical twin brother Charlie is to be released from an asylum and all hell is about to break loose, when the brothers combine their psychopathic talents.Eventually stepping out from the shadows of his murderous forebears, Caleb puts in motion his own diabolical plan to reveal himself and his ‘art’ to the world. He’s a true aesthete, an artist of death. His various ‘installations’ have not received the status he feels they deserve, so Caleb is expanding his ‘canvas.’
Meet Ray Truman . . .
A tragic cop whose personal demons won’t let him rest. Overworked and underpaid, Truman is tenacious as a pit-bull. He won’t rest ‘til he’s brought to justice Portvale’s infamous serial killer. His battle with his own demons gives him the strength to chase the shadows and to cut corners when necessary, as he embarks on the hunt of his life.His search leads him to the Cunningham’s house of horrors. What he finds there will ultimately lead him to regret ever meeting Caleb Cunningham and the deviant family that spawned him. The hunter becomes the hunted as Truman digs deeper into the abyss that is the horrifying mind of the most dangerous psychopath he has ever met.
This horrifically disturbing tale of a family tree of evil will embed itself in the mind of the reader, long after the last page has been turned.
Horror Fiction Review
THE HORROR FICTION REVIEW: NOVEMBER, 2012 Reviews: NOVEMBER, 2012 REVIEWS
Here is the new Book Trailer for Blood Related. Very cool – thanks to Cyrus from CyrusFiction Productions for creating this.
WARNING: CONTAINS SCENES OF HORROR AND ANIMATED VIOLENCE
What other authors say about Blood Related
Come and visit the Blood Related page at my publisher’s website: Black Bed Sheet Books.
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I met Charlie Cunningham while working as a court appointed psychiatrist, testifying to the defendant’s state of mind at a sentence review hearing. He was imprisoned for the homicide of a dispensary store-owner and was a prime suspect in the killings of at least two other people in the Portvale area. Cunningham was held as an inmate at a sanitarium after recently assaulting a group of fellow prisoners at Breakhouse Penitentiary. His behavior had deteriorated during his stay at the prison and had resulted in a severe psychotic breakdown, culminating with the assaults, hence the reason behind his transfer and my testimony. Dr Frederic Rimbaud, chief psychiatrist at Saint Michael Hospital for the Criminally Insane, passed on Charlie’s case notes to me with a warning that I should “take another case as this one [Cunningham] isn’t worth defending!”
At the time, Charlie had not gained notoriety as a suspected serial killer. However, his psychiatric assessments, coupled with his criminal background, confirmed his capacity for committing multiple murders. After numerous interviews, I concluded that he was a high-risk violent serial offender of the disorganized type, with full-blown antisocial personality disorder. It was my opinion that Charlie Cunningham was one of the most dangerous Antisocial Personality types I had encountered in all my twenty years of forensic psychiatry. That was, before I met his twin brother Caleb.
I first encountered Caleb while visiting his brother Charlie at the asylum. It was a typical ‘non-contact’ visiting room for maximum-security inmates, or ‘patients’ as the staff liked to call them. Bulletproof windows separated visitors from the prisoners in the small concrete booths. The unmistakable bright orange jumpsuits of the prisoners, contrasted sharply with the gloomy concrete and steel environment. A plain wooden seat was provided for the visitor and an intercom on the wall allowed communication. A thick reinforced glass window ran the length of the visiting room wall and separated the area from the waiting room, where the visitors patiently sat while waiting their turn to see family and friends on the other side.
As I gathered my things and said goodbye to Charlie, I saw Caleb enter the visiting room. I knew it was Caleb as I was immediately struck by his likeness to his twin brother, to the point that I thought it was Charlie for a moment. He was tall although not as muscular as Charlie, but his shaved head and cold dark eyes combined with his chiseled facial features, mirrored his brother’s image. It was as if Charlie had materialized from one side of the room to the other and I found myself involuntarily glancing back at the bulletproof window, to make sure Charlie was still sitting there. I hesitated for a brief moment as I contemplated speaking with Caleb before leaving, thinking he may be of some use in providing details regarding his brother’s background and current psychological state.
Caleb looked at me as he waited for the guard to show him to the seat in front of Charlie’s booth. His dark eyes bore deep into mine, his gaze unflinching as if he had read my mind and was daring me to approach him. Slightly unnerved, I decided I had all the information I needed and approached the exit once more, forcing myself to think about my next appointment as I left the gray walls of the asylum.
Charlie’s sentence-review hearing was eventually held with no change to the maximum sentence he had received. My testimony allowed no leniency for Charlie and once the sentence was passed, I thought it would be the last I would see of the Cunninghams. Over the next few months I worked on a number of high-profile cases, which resulted in more public exposure for my small clinic, to the point where I had to employ staff to help deal with a burgeoning client-list. Despite my hectic schedule I could not forget about the Cunningham case, the disturbing content and graphic details of my interviews with Charlie lingered in my consciousness. I found myself reviewing my case notes after-hours, fascinated and revolted by the litany of violence I had recorded. A growing sense of unease had me wondering if I had been privy to information best passed on to the appropriate authorities.
Reviewing the court documents, including notes from previous psychiatric assessments, witness statements and police records, I had pieced together a picture of a horrific family upbringing for the twin brothers. I used my professional experience and training to corroborate Charlie’s scattered retelling of his past. I remembered that he betrayed little emotion apart from when he relayed his family experiences – especially the abuse he suffered at the hands of his violent father and over-domineering mother. He had remained silent about his brother Caleb and it was in this omission that I realized my professional interest had been piqued.
Who was Caleb? Was Charlie afraid of his own sibling? Realizing the futility of my curiosity, I watched as the clock on the wall registered midnight’s approach. Sitting alone at my desk, overworked and tired, I decided I needed a holiday. And that, I thought, would be the last time I would have to think about Charlie Cunningham and his twisted kin as I booked myself an online holiday package.
A month later, I had returned from vacation and settled in to the backlog of work that awaited me. It was shaping up to be one of my busiest years what with an expansive client list and various projects that threatened to push my workload to breaking point. The Cunningham case was the farthest thing from my mind when Caleb himself approached me in my downtown office one bleak winter’s morning. When he first entered my office, I did not recognize him as a good year had passed since I had last seen him and his brother. His eyes however, remained unchanged and the memory of him and Charlie came flooding back to me, as I hesitantly ushered him into the office. Those dark eyes belied a malevolence that instantly made me think of Charles Manson’s psychotic gaze. Once again, Caleb had rattled me with his presence but my curiosity, tempered with my professional training, outweighed the uneasy feeling that enveloped me as he made himself comfortable in one of the chairs in front of my desk.
After advising Caleb that I was no longer working as a defense witness and that I hadn’t spoken to Charlie since his trial, I told him that I now had a private practice and worked primarily as a consultant to local and federal law enforcement authorities. Caleb explained that he knew all about my practice and involvement with a number of high profile cases. He had read my books on Abnormal Psychology and Forensic Pathology and stated that was why he wanted to talk to me. He felt I might be able to offer him some insight into his own psychological state of mind. I explained that I was very busy but somehow, he managed to convince me that what he had to say would be worth my while. I don’t usually work pro-bono but I found myself making an exception as I offered my services to Caleb.
I had unanswered questions about the Cunninghams and a professional interest in the genetic transition of psychosis, which was evident in my analysis of Charlie all those years ago. Despite agreeing to talk with Caleb, I had a nagging sense of unease as it occurred to me that he had obviously been following my career with some interest for a long time. Misgivings aside, my professional curiosity got the better of me and after a brief exchange of formalities, we began to talk.
Over the course of our meetings, it became apparent that Caleb had an agenda and after reassurance that I would keep what he told me confidential, he began to talk. It was obvious he had never talked to anyone with such apparent honesty. At times, it seemed he could not help himself, as the floodgates of his past opened, as he retold the horrors of his family life. During our first session, he unleashed a torrent of recantations of violent experiences. What had started out as an in-depth look into his and Charlie’s childhood, suddenly switched to a gruesome confessional.
After convincing him of my adherence to a strict confidentiality code, we delved deeper into his back-catalog of violence. I became fascinated with the nature of his psychology and found him to be a psychiatric anomaly, beyond definitive analysis or diagnosis. Aspects of his personality would point to a symptom or criteria for a particular type of disorder, only to morph and combine to produce a unique psychological characteristic, near impossible to pigeonhole.
As the weekly sessions progressed, a picture began to emerge of a dichotomous personality: a severe dissociative identity disorder similar to the stereotypical ‘multiple-personality’ type but unique, in that Caleb was fully in control of all aspects of his behavior and thought processes. In this respect, he was nothing like his psychotic brother who displayed all the classic hallmark symptoms of a disorganized antisocial personality coupled with violent behavioral problems. Despite his ability to control his behavior, I was left in no doubt as to the psychopathological nature of Caleb Cunningham.
I had long held the conviction that the concept of ‘evil’ was an almost meaningless abstract term, coined for those things beyond human comprehension. With Caleb, the word ‘evil’ became synonymous with my assessment of his character. In fact, I felt quite disturbed as much by his words, as by his presence. After attending regular sessions for three months, he finally disappeared. It was with mixed regret and relief that I closed my considerable case file on Caleb.
Despite our intensive sessions, I realized I was still miles away from fully understanding his twisted psyche and at a loss to understand why he had actually told me all that he had. He had put me in the uncomfortable position of providing me with information that was potentially incriminating and revealing. I felt much like I imagined a priest to feel, after hearing a confession too inhumanly terrible to keep secret.
As most people know, ‘doctor-patient confidentiality’ is a mainstay of psychiatric practice, but after the end of my sessions with Caleb Cunningham, I had sufficient cause to betray this ethical basis. I would later receive correspondence from Caleb, which in turn prompted me to investigate his claims further. The manuscript that I put before you is as factual an account as possible, of the Cunningham family’s reign of terror, and of the twisted psychology of a very dangerous human being.
With the passage of time and the confirmation of his crimes, Caleb Cunningham has proved to be an enigma amongst modern serial killers. A psychopath who alters his Modus Operandi (M.O.) at will and can adapt his pattern behavior to suit. He is essentially, an intelligent predator that refuses to conform to any of the rules applied to his notorious predecessors. In one of my interviews with him, Caleb brazenly admitted that he had “murdered over one hundred men and women”. Antisocial Personality Disorder types are notorious liars but something about his tone, combined with his family history, made me take him seriously. He was the prime suspect in two separate national serial killing investigations and is currently on Interpol’s Top 10 Most Wanted List as a fugitive. Apart from early convictions for petty larceny and burglary offences and a brief term of imprisonment, Caleb has managed to evade conviction for any of the serious crimes he is suspected of.
What you are about to read is an account of the diabolical workings of a dangerous, psychopathic killer. Most of the text in this narrative is transcribed verbatim from taped accounts of Caleb’s and his brother’s experiences. More obscure aspects of their twisted lives have had to be pieced together from Caleb’s recollections, alongside the Portvale Serial Killer Task Force lead investigator Ray Truman’s copious notes and associated media reports. Gathered from Truman’s own police journals and case files, I have pieced together his story as accurately as possible thanks to his helpful colleagues at the Portvale Police Precinct.
Like any true story, there is an element of the ‘perceived truth’ used in the retelling of the tale. This arises from the personal accounts and biases of those who write and interpret the evidence laid out before them. I too interpret the facts to the best of my abilities but realize that integrity is sometimes not enough to reveal absolute truth. Hence, my apologies for any factual discrepancies that may come to light in the future as this story reaches its end, as presently it has no such ending.
Finally, at the risk of professional suicide, I have an admission to make. I betrayed my client’s trust as my conscience overwhelmed my code of practice with the weight of the horrific detail of Caleb Cunningham’s darkest confidences. After gaining official police verification of details of unsolved homicides in the Portvale region, compared with the transcribed information Caleb provided, it is my belief that Caleb Cunningham is quite possibly the most dangerous man alive.
For he is still alive – somewhere out there, surviving on his Machiavellian intelligence while he channels his seething rage and lust for death. My last communique from him; one of the countless cryptic letters I received, is included with this publication of his journal entries and case notes. His letters display his ability to communicate both his intellect and his capacity for unspeakable evil in the same breath, much like his ‘art’ – the aesthetic rendering of his many victims.
I hope that the publication of these personal writings and case notes will illuminate one of the most elusive, bizarre and enigmatic killers of this century and the family that spawned him. After informing him of my decision to share with the federal authorities information I had gathered from our conversations, he gave me his ‘permission’ to tell his story to the world. The implicit threat of his return to Portvale engendered fear in the wake of my decision. I have no doubt that he will read this and that my life will be in imminent danger because of this publication.
The corroboration of the federal authorities, that what he told me was pure fact, leave me with the hope that this account will turn over new stones perhaps otherwise best left unturned. I have sufficient doubt in the truth of his account, in that his ‘estimate’ of the victims he murdered is a lesser percentage of the true and actual total.
I read the papers and have access to the online law-enforcement log-files, both nationally and internationally, of unsolved homicides. I see his signature everywhere. It is in the names of the victims, their age and the ferocity of the crimes. They are his calling cards to me – his ‘art’ is alive and lives forever. This is his story.
Dr. Mary Brunswick, PHD
Charlie has big plans for me. He’s thinking crazy thoughts and talking crazy talk. He keeps telling me about his recurring visions and his ‘mission,’ apparently he has occasion to talk to God. During one of these conversations, God granted him absolution in hell, free from the tyranny of everyday pain and suffering, if Charlie did his bidding. This particular vision also revealed that God and Satan were the same, as was heaven and hell. For Charlie, he saw this as a sign that he would be sitting at Satan’s side on a throne made of human bones, once he was mortally dead.
He would be a god.
I could tell he was delusional.
He was gone.
I knew this because there was no God.
God was dead and so was Charlie.
I hear Charlie’s voice now, clear as a bell. My consciousness clears and my surroundings come into sharp focus. I see his face clearly in my mind. I shake my head, trying to rid myself of his image. I wrap my bleeding fist in a towel and step gingerly over the broken shards of mirror littering the wet tiles on the bathroom floor. I make my way to the kitchen and search the cupboards, for some tape or band-aids, to stem the flow of blood from the lacerations across my throbbing knuckles.
“God,” Charlie whispers to me, “has given me life – to do my deeds upon this earth before he takes me to the next level.”
“Another life,” he continues, “will not allow me the freedom of choice you have with your future Caleb. Some things we cannot change. Some lives are not led by natural laws, but by unnatural processes – events.”
“My life, your life . . .” Charlie says, “is a road map to hell.”
I remember the last time I looked in his eyes when he was alive. He was crazy then and the voice in my head shakes with equal insanity, as an image of him floats before my eyes. His face appears gaunt, skeletal. The vision ebbs in and out of focus as I start to tremble with a mixture of naked coldness and fear. I remember him as if he is with me now and he is, in his own twisted way. My mind reels with tangents and the bending of physical laws.
He used to seem very confused to me.
He now seems very logical to me.
He still seems very dangerous to me.
He is my twin brother and he has returned home.
I see him in my own eyes.
I feel that he is now part of me.
The missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle has been found. It is a moment of realization that we are two parts of the same equation; standing there alone in a stranger’s house, nude as a newborn, thoughts swirling through my adrenaline-charged brain.
I realize that with the puzzle complete – the revealed image is far more bloody than romanticized, like two halves of something that shouldn’t be together. More like a vision of apocalyptic proportions. Despite my realization, I feel like shit more than ever.
Back in the bathroom I look once again at my reflection in the broken shards of mirror on the floor – just before I smash myself in the face with my fist. I hear Charlie gasp as I do. The sum of our union is chaos. Death. Destruction. Violence. And loneliness.
We are hollow men.
The walking dead.
We are one.
With some ammonia-saturated cleaning spray, I spray the droplets of blood on the remains of the cabinet mirror, vainly attempting to clean my presence from the room. I look at the floor covered in bloody footprints, my bloody footprints. I look at the woman in the bathtub, her glazed lifeless eyes staring vacantly at me. Her bruised neck set at a strange angle. One bare arm dangles over the side of the porcelain tub, her alabaster fingers delicately lay palm up on the floor, in a glistening pool of dark blood. A bare breast exposed, floats whitely like an island of chalk amongst the maroon waters in the tub. At this point, I give up any attempts to conceal my indiscretions.
I look through the doorway at the clock on the mantle in the living room. It’s time to go and I’ve come ill prepared, this was after all a ‘crime of opportunity’ as they sometimes are. I complete my task and take my trophy from the body, arranging the remains in my careful way. I remove my clothes from my backpack and replace them with the head wrapped in a plastic bag. I wipe the remaining smears of congealing blood from my body, careful not to get the viscous liquid on anything else as I shed my unease and dress hurriedly in the hallway. All the while, my gaze is fixated on the broken work in the bathroom. She appears to move as her limbs stiffen a fraction with the onset of rigor-mortis.
My heart starts beating again and I think of Lucille as I make my way to the gas hob in the kitchen. I check that all the windows are shut tight, light a candle in the living room and in the hallway, and turn all the gas rings to high. In my head, Charlie remains quiet as I gently close and lock the back door, before making my way across the yard and over the fence at the rear of the property.
I walk slowly down the poorly lit alley that runs behind the North-Shore Boulevard. It takes approximately six minutes of pacing my steps in the dark night, counting the seconds as I go, until I hear a muffled thump behind me as the house explodes in a ball of flame. Charlie starts to laugh, a frightening maniacal noise, which sounds like someone hacking at a tree-trunk with an axe.
It only takes a brief minute to realize that the crazed laughter is not Charlie’s, but my own.
“Blood Related” is a fascinating journey through the mind and life of a third-generation serial killer. He is both a victim and a victimizer. He is deeply damaged and mentally ill. He embraces and is turned on by his murderous lifestyle. He finds fulfillment in it and sees it as an expression of who he is. But he also knows it’s wrong and dreams of “one day becoming a better person”.
Graphic, tortuous, nauseating violence. Definitely not for the weak of stomach. If you can handle this though, you must read this book.
This book goes way beyond slash-em-up horror. We are witnesses to the life of a serial killer, Errol Cunningham, through his child’s eyes, those of Caleb Cunningham. We learn of the unimaginable horrors that Caleb saw and learned from as a child. He was a witness to, and object of brutal abuse and it contributed to his evolution into the monster he became. He shows some capacity and desire to love at one point, but the pursuit of what he views as his art will not allow that bond.
He is pursued by a policeman who inherited a passion for apprehending a Cunningham murderer from his father, who pursued earlier generations of this murderous family. Caleb is highly intelligent and clever. He learned how to get away with his crimes from his father and fellow inmates and used those skills to formulate his own methods.
We see Caleb transform. We see it through his own eyes as well as through the eyes of outsiders. Cook includes viewpoints of policeman Ray Truman, the media and psychologists. This variety of perspectives provides new insights and information on Caleb Cunningham’s psychoses and torturous acts. It is cruel and black and heartbreaking all at once. He is a deranged, twisted killer, but he is also a victim of a brutal childhood, and he has a desire to love and be loved and to live a normal life buried inside himself.
There were times when a change in perspective occurred and I became confused about who was speaking. There were also spots with grammatical issues or incorrect word choice. From a plot perspective, the editing was outstanding. The plot was tight. Grammar and word choice edits could have been better on occasion.
The weaknesses are easily and greatly outweighed by the strengths of this book. If you can’t tell, I love “Blood Related”. It is complex, fascinating and entertaining. You know the writing is good when part of you feels sorry for the serial killer. I can’t wait to see what happens next. I will watch eagerly for the release of the sequel.
4.0 out of 5 stars A terrifying journey into the mind of a killer, December 9, 2012
Bloody and brutal, torturous and tantalizing, this is the relating of a tale in unrelated pieces skillfully pieced together and vividly rendered with an artist’s brush. The use of various eye-witness accounts, news reports and correspondence give a terrifying portrait of a family of murderers and their gruesome work. Specifically, it centers on twin brothers Charlie and Caleb Cunningham and their murderous exploits. There is an intriguing contrast between the two: Charlie is brutal, while Caleb is cunning. As time goes on and the body count rises, it begins to take its toll on the minds of these two men. The mundane becomes surreal, until is difficult to discern what is real and what is a product of the character’s twisted and damaged psyche. Despite the graphic description of the individual acts, a sense of their inhuman nature prevents the reader from becoming numb to their graphic depiction. Time itself becomes irrelevant as the accounts are presented out of sequence but with special emphasis on that moment in the killer’s career and its effect on all that transpires. This story puts you into the mind a killer: a journey into the depths of depravity; it is less a motorcycle hurtling into the night, than a large truck, with irresistible momentum behind it plowing through all preconceived notions and standards of sensibility. If murder is in the blood, then it is a harbinger of something truly horrific.
I read it again. That’s a first for me, but William Cook’s Blood Related is the best example of horror I’ve read in years. If you seek an intelligent terrifying read look no further. Highly recommended.
John Paul Allen
Author of Gifted Trust, Dark Blessings, Monkey Love, Weeping Mary and House Guest
BLOOD RELATED by William Cook.
To say this story is captivating and gripping would be an understatement. As a true crime writer of over sixty serial killers, I’ve read a lot of jaw-dropping information while doing research about real killers. The Serial Killers depicted in this book are the most ruthless, vicious and horrifying killers you could imagine. I was aghast.
This is a well-written, heart-stopping, and shocking story. Thank God it is fiction. Highly recommended that you read this book with the lights on.
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Disturbing, November 1, 2012
By William Cook
(2012 Black Bed Sheet Books; Tp 323 pgs; Kindle Edition 554 KB)
Caleb and Charlie Cunningham are twin brothers who each inherited a serial killer pathology. Their father was a suspected serial killer and their mother was insane, a drunk, and possibly an accomplice. After Charlie goes to prison and their father commits suicide, the full truth of the Cunningham’s legacy begins to present itself and Caleb’s turns his bloody fantasies into reality.
BLOOD RELATED is told primarily from the point of view of Caleb in the form of journal entries given to a forensic psychiatrist who handled Charlie’s case. There are also news stories and police reports to support Caleb’s claims about his family. The story is graphic and the brothers are violent and relentless, although at times I found myself wanting to like Caleb. The characters are well-developed and tremendously disturbed. William Cook has written a frightening story that poses the question “is it nature or nurture that determines the birth of a serial killer?” The only issue I had with the book was that at times I was confused as to the time line of events. Other than that, I highly recommend BLOOD RELATED, unless you are a bit on the squeamish side. I would definitely categorize the book as extreme horror.
A novel that will drop you straight into the minds of truly demented people, a family of killers; in particular the eyes of the narrative: Caleb Cunningham. The insight into an ugly world is expertly crafted; the descriptions of violence are wonderfully realized. The use of clippings and letters reinforce the hideous ambiance of realism. Written with tight prose that packs a nasty bite, Blood Related is a ghastly, unnerving experience that will delight your inner gore hound. Now, excuse me whilst I shower to wash off the blood.
Nurture or nature? Anyone involved in such a debate would probably have a hard time pinning an answer to this question when concerning the Cunningham twins Charlie and Caleb. Brought up by abusive parents, one of whom is a savage serial killer that often encouraged his children to take part in his horrible crimes; one could easily argue that the two were nurtured into the monsters they eventually become. At the same time it’s hard to say nature didn’t play a part because how else could one explain the generational bloodlust the Cunningham family displays, bloodlust that seems to have begun with Charlie and Caleb’s grandfather? Whatever the cause, the result is a pair of psychotic serial killers who show no empathy for their fellow human beings; serial killers who actually view themselves as separated and on a higher plane of existence than mankind and thus entitled to do whatever they wish to them.
As noted above, it begins early on for the twins, usually with over the top physical punishments that would easily knock any sense of goodness from within the mind of a growing child. After that came the introduction to murder as their father brought female victims back to the basement and allowed his children to watch and sometimes take part in the torture and eventual slaying of the captive or captives. However, the act of murder was not limited to the basement or even the house. Lacking any control on his impulses, their father will also sometimes commit murder while the family is out and about, a situation that then calls for disposable of evidence and the cleaning up of the crime scene. Such moments are a `hands on’ learning experience for Caleb and Charlie, one that will prove invaluable later in life as each matures into individual serial killers. Of course this isn’t to say suspicion isn’t leveled on the father. The local police — and one man in particular — are pretty sure the father is responsible for the crimes, ones that eventually become attributed to a killer known as the Dockside Ripper. Being able to nail him down as the Dockside Ripper, however, isn’t easy, which in turn allows the body count, and the education of two budding serial killers, to grow.
Of the twins, Caleb seems the most level headed, which in turn makes him the scarier of the two when it comes to the two serial killers. That said, Caleb does have some impulse control issues just like his father, which sometimes causes close calls with the police. At one point it also puts him in conflict with his brother due to the slaying of a young woman that Charlie wanted to keep alive, his desire to cause chaos and the eventual breakdown of civilization leading to a different type of torture and murder than what Caleb usually takes part it. The question is will the two be able to work together to the end that Charlie wants, while also allowing for Caleb’s desires to be realized, or will the two come into such conflict that they destroy each other. Also, will the detective obsessed with their family and the savagery it displays be able to put an end to their reign of terror, or will he just become another victim?
Mostly told from the point of view of Caleb, but also occasionally from some of the other individuals within the story, Blood Related by William Cook is a wonderfully twisted tale of two serial killers who have no redeeming value whatsoever, yet are somehow fun to read about. In fact, not only are they fun to read about, but at times you find yourself actually rooting for them, which can be very unsettling. Equally unsettling is the disgust one starts to feel toward the father and Charlie, yet not toward Caleb despite his being just as ruthless as the other two. Adding to the story and its authentic feel were the newspaper accounts, books segments, and clinical observations layered throughout the story, all of which had the feel of being real documents one would find in such media forms. Having seen and used these types of documents in the real world when studying such subjects in school, I can honestly say the author nailed it when penning his own, and had I read them as part of a case-study I would have assumed them to be genuine. I also would have been horrified to know that two such killers had done the things they did for as long as they did, and that a family had had produced three generations of serial killers.
Needless to say, I found Blood Related to be an excellent read, one by an author who hopefully will be releasing more works in the near future. Until then readers will have to keep their bloodlust sated with the tale of Caleb Cunningham and his twin brother Charlie. I promise, if this type of story is your thing you will not be disappointed.
This book takes you on a very disturbing thrill ride through the mind of one killer and the life of him and his murderous family. Killing is in the blood and mind of the entire Cunningham family. When you read this book it is so well written that you forget that it is fiction, but then as you read you find out that you are so glad that it is. The heinous acts that this family inflicted on so many innocent people, and their lack of emotion not only towards society but for each other is so sad and horrific at the same time. Each page leaves you wanting more.
I don’t know what deep corner of his mind that author William Cook had find to write this book, but I am so glad he did.
If you love reading about serial killers to the mentally disturbed you will have to read this book.
I read “Blood Related” in just a couple of days. This is a taut, graphic story of a serial killer family (hence the title). Cook does a wonderful job creating characters that are believable and quite frightening. His scenes are written to shock, which they manage to do quite nicely. The psychological make up of these characters, as well as the detailed history, will take you into the heart and soul of the serial killer’s playground. cook delivers the goods that will make you want to lock your doors and windows.
Carl Hose, author of “Blood Legacy” and “Dead Rising.”
The main character is Caleb. He and brother Charlie have been abused by both father Errol and mother Vera. They’ve been raised in an environment of murder, death, and torture. Throughout the story we identify with Caleb: his actions (mostly despicable), his feelings about his family relations, and a seemingly growing insanity fueled by drugs and alcohol. What remains is a story you can follow with Caleb’s entries and excerpts from newspapers and crime books. Blood Related is an awesome and ambitious project in the ways and means of the psychopathic mind. A lot of us are looking for answers as why people kill the others around them and do the inhumane. Blood Related may help you in your quest, though the answers aren’t easy ones. This book is one that should Never be overlooked.
“I remember looking at Charlie and noticing he was visibly erect as he stood there staring, trembling with excitement and fear.
The sick fuck.I would never stoop to be so obvious.How tactless!My curiosity got the better of me and I made the mistake of asking Pa why they had to die and, just before he knocked me unconscious, he said that they were a ‘present for a pig.’ Later on, I would find out for myself exactly who Ray Truman was and what he was capable of.”
There were times when a change in perspective occurred and I became confused about who was speaking. There were also spots with grammatical issues or incorrect word choice. From a plot perspective, the editing was outstanding. The plot was tight. Grammar and word choice edits could have been better on occasion.
Black Bed Sheet Books, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
Blood Related By William Cook
Posted by Marilou George at 12:14 PM
Written by William Cook
2011, 427 pages, Fiction
Released on February 20th, 2012
When talking about research for a book, most people would think first about non-fiction. However, solid research that gives a writer profound knowledge of his subject matter usually means the difference between mediocre character development and unique, multilayered characters. In William Cook’s Blood Related, the amount of hours the author spent researching serial killers shine through in a way that gives the writing the ring of truth.
Blood Related is a few stories wrapped into one. Also, there are newspaper articles, personal letters, journal entries, interviews and notes from a psychologist that come together to tell the story of the Cunningham family. Although the novel can only be considered epic in terms of time, it concentrates on the actions of the last two Cunninghams, Charlie and Caleb, a pair of sociopathic twins who follow in their father’s footsteps and become serial killers. The antagonistic figure is Detective Ray Truman, who’s been searching for the killer, or killers, who have terrorized the small town of Portvale for as long as he has been on the force and, just like the twins, is doing exactly what his father did before him. As the brothers take over the night, the town starts to fill with headless, heavily mutilated corpses stuck in unnatural poses, with their innards deposited nearby. Throughout their mad, violent acts, the readers begin to learn the past of a family bound by evil and the blood they have spilled. The tension builds toward a climactic end where Truman and Caleb become entangled in a dangerous game in which it’s not clear who’s the hunter and who’s being hunted.
Cook obviously read a lot about psychopathic killers with sociopathic tendencies. The narrative is filled to the brim with gore: trained killer dogs, a collection of severed heads, point-blank gunshots, self-inflicted wounds and a lot of killing. However, the violence and blood always come in a very nonchalant way because the narrator doesn’t feel anything for his victims. It’s only when Truman of Dr. Mary Brunswick, the court appointed psychologist, are talking about the murders that they become a terrible thing.
While some people might find the killings and beheadings, or the head-sex that follows, disturbing, the most unsettling parts of the tale are those that involve the twins’ childhood and the relationship they had with their parents. The cold, distant, abusive, warped experiences of serial killers like Ed Gein are all here, filtered through Cook’s vision and implanted into the Cunninghams, which makes the book a must-read for fans of serial killer literature.
For a book that comes in at 427 pages, Blood Related felt like a much shorter read. In a way, the newspaper articles and segments that are supposed to be chapters pulled from other books give the reader a break from the bleak, psychologically twisted and emotionally gritty portions of the narrative.
If you like dark stories, spend a dollar and get Blood Related today.
Good Reads Reviews
wow… where to start..
A simple story of a serial killing family…. but is it nature? nurture (or lack thereof)? or something else?
Set out with letters to a Court appointed Psychological Dr, newspaper articles and the fracturing mind of a serial killer this book is intense with capital letters.
You are made to feel like you are in the mind of Caleb as his Psyche fractures and encourages him to torture and kill….
You are allowed insights into why this happening, of the terrible childhood he had and then you glimpse the potential for another route…. his confusion about his lack of emotion yet the excitement of the hunt and kill is chilling to read.
I felt like I was witnessing these kills first hand and was getting very sick, so powerful was the writing.
I got a bit mixed up occasionally on who was narrating and the authors lack of understanding how SSRIs work really made me huff (but thats purely personal!) is why I “only” gave a 4star.
I feel absolutely wrung out after reading this, but feel strangely glad I did too…..
Blood Related is a book that will chill you to the core! A disturbing portrayal of the Cunningham family submerged in generations of violence, abuse, death and torture that will haunt you even after the last page is read. A revenge filled portrayal of the Truman family whose generations of law enforcement officers is determined to bring justice to the victims of the Cunningham’s viciousness no matter the cost.Caleb and Charlie Cunningham were raised in a home fraught with abuse delivered by their parents Errol and Vera. We relive the story through the mind of Caleb, his disturbing family history, his twin brother Charlie’s insane actions and his own appalling exploits.Ray Truman comes from a family of law enforcement officers who have spent decades trying to bring the Cunningham’s to justice for the horrific crimes they have committed. Ray will stop at nothing to continue this vendetta in any manner he sees fit.The character portrayals in this book are both stunning and unnerving. Enhancing the authenticity of this book are media accounts, book excerpts and clinical observations reflected throughout the story contributing to the feel of genuine techniques used in real investigations.The haunting view into the mind of a psychopath is portrayed in such a profound and memorable way that was very tangible and chilling.Blood Related is an excellent yet unnerving read that I recommend reading with the lights on!
Other Blood Related Links:
Voted #5 Best Horror Books of 2012 by examiner.com
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last few years you will know how big Facebook is and, yes, you can find the Blood Related FB fan page here.
Official website here.
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Well 2013 has kicked off with a hiss and a roar. Long may it continue, the hissing and the roaring that is. First of all I’d like to thank all of you who take the time to visit. It really means a lot and supports independent artists and craftspeople like myself. Anyway, this is my site so I guess I better tell you about what’s happening in my world at the moment (myopic as it may be). I have started a new novel titled ‘Blood Trail’ and have finished the first quarter and mapped out the balance with an expected finish of July/August approx. I have nearly completed formatting a rather large dark-poetry collection (title to be decided). ‘Songs for the Raven’ is an anthology I’ve been working with and is in the process of taking submissions (I did this book cover for them recently). If you’re interested, click on the pic and submit your best literary Horror short:
A few interviews will go live shortly and three separate anthology selections that I’ll post about on my official website: http://williamcookwriter.com. Please stay updated if interested in any of these things via my facebook page.
On other fronts, I have had limited success with my first ventures into self-publishing with the following poetry books. They are all $0.99 titles so if you like poetry, take a punt 😉
My first Kindle short has met with an enthusiastic response and I received my first 1-star review from an indignant reviewer. Sometimes I think people confuse the sample with the whole story! (spoiler alert: stereotypical representations of minor characters) It was supposed to be like an episode from a TV Horror series or Tales From the Crypt. I love and collect vintage EC, Eerie, Creepy and Psycho comics, hence the influence. Anyway, another $0.99 cent title and recently topping a Goodreads poll.
Meanwhile, Blood Related is ticking along steadily, not losing or gaining much pace via Amazon but hoping I’m selling a few copies through my publisher, Black Bed Sheet Books (cheaper too)
Anyway, that’s about all from me this month but I will be back in a few days with some more posts. One of my many resolutions for 2013 was to be more communicative (and no that doesn’t mean spamming!).
Oh, and one more thing I’m still doing book cover, audio/music/dvd, graphics through my design site www.bloodsoakedgraphics.tumblr.com if you need anything.
Until next time, see you later. Will.
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