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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.
grab it here!
This is the latest review (of Blood Related) by William Malmborg. When you’re done reading, please make sure to check out William’s very cool website here.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
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.
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‘Blood Related’ by William Cook has just been released on Amazon for Kindle. Print release to follow shortly. Please choose ‘tags’ on the ‘Blood Related’ Amazon page and make sure you share it via Twitter or Facebook. Thankyou for your patience and support. Hope you all have a great start to the New Year. Much appreciated.
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Concept by William Cook
Design by Angelic Knight Press
Photo image by the fabulous Danielle Tunstall
During the course of research for my first novel, ‘Blood Related,’ I read many books about Serial Homicide, both fiction and non-fiction. In order to understand what makes a serial-killer murder others this research was heavy reading. I found myself becoming desensitized to the violence after the first ten books or so, every now and then something would turn my gut and stand out as unique behavior that differed from the other cases. The central character of Caleb Cunningham is an amalgamation of these behaviors and personality types as I read them. Once ‘Blood related’ is published, I will post a personality profile that outlines CC’s psychological status.
Here is the link to the online list I compiled, complete with Book Covers etc:
As promised, here is the Non-fiction Bibliographical source list.
1. The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy The Shocking Inside Story by Ann Rule
2. The Night Stalker by Philip Carlo
3. Crime Classification Manual: A Standard System for Investigating and Classifying Violent Crimes by John E. Douglas
4. The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World’s Most Terrifying Murderers by Harold Schechter
5. Psycho Paths: Tracking the Serial Killer Through Contemporary American Film and Fiction by Philip Simpson
6. The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy by Stephen G. Michaud
7. Bobby Joe: In the Mind of a Monster: The Chilling Facts Behind the Story of a Brutal Serial Killer by Bernie Ward
8. Natural Born Killer: In Love and on the Road with a Serial Killer (Killing Time) by Sandy Fawkes
9. Garden of Graves: The Shocking True Story of Long Island Serial Killer Joel Rikfin by Maria Eftimiades
10. Bound To Die: The Shocking True Story of Bobby Joe Long, America’s Most Savage Serial Killer by Anna Flowers
11. Bad Boy: The True Story of Kenneth Allen McDuff, the Most Notorious Serial Killer in Texas History by Gary M. Lavergne
12. The Shadow of Death: The Hunt for a Serial Killer by Philip E. Ginsburg
13. Step into My Parlor: The Chilling Story of Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer by Edward Baumann
14. Unholy Messenger: The Life and Crimes of the BTK Serial Killer by Stephen Singular
15. Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of the Serial Killer Next Door by Roy Wenzl
16. Serial Killer Investigations by Colin Wilson
17. Criminal Profiling from Crime Scene Analysis by John E. Douglas
18. Unabomber: On the Trail of America’s Most-Wanted Serial Killer by John E. Douglas
19. Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives by John E. Douglas
20. The Anatomy of Motive: The FBI’s Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals by John E. Douglas
21. Journey Into Darkness by John E. Douglas
22. The Cases That Haunt Us by John E. Douglas
23. Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas
24. Criminal Shadows: Inside the Mind of the Serial Killer by David Canter
25. Mapping Murder: The Secrets of Geographical Profiling by David Canter
26. Ted Bundy: Conversations With a Killer by Stephen G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth
27. The St. Albans Poisoner: Life and Crimes of Graham Young by Anthony Holden
28. Clues from Killers: Serial Murder and Crime Scene Messages by Dirk C. Gibson
29. Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder by James Alan Fox
30. Panzram: A Journal of Murder by Carl Panzram
31. Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers Up Close and Personal by Jack Levin
32. My Life Among the Serial Killers: Inside the Minds of the World’s Most Notorious Murderers by Helen Morrison
33. Inside the Minds of Serial Killers: Why They Kill by Katherine Ramsland
34. Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer by Elliott Leyton
35. The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey into the Mind of the Serial Killer by Jason Moss
36. Comrade Chikatilo: The Psychopathology of Russia’s Notorious Serial Killer by Mikhail Krivich
37. Couples Who Kill by Carol Anne Davis
38. The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers by Michael Newton
39. Killer Clown: John Wayne: The John Wayne Gacy Murders by Terry Sullivan
40. Bluebeard: The Life and Crimes of Gilles de Rais by Leonard Wolf
41. Hunting the Devil/Pursuit, Capture and Confession of the Most Savage Serial Killer in History by Richard Lourie
42. The American Murders of Jack the Ripper: Tantalizing Evidence of the Gruesome American Interlude of the Prime Ripper Suspect by R. Michael Gordon
43. The Thames Torso Murders of Victorian London by R. Michael Gordon
44. The Search for the Green River Killer by Carlton Smith
45. The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History by Kevin M. Sullivan
46. Murder In Spokane by Mark Fuhrman
47. The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer by Robert D. Keppel
48. Inside the Mind of BTK: The True Story Behind the Thirty-Year Hunt for the Notorious Wichita Serial Killer by John E. Douglas
49. Lust Killer: Updated Edition by Ann Rule
50. The Want-Ad Killer by Ann Rule
51. The I-5 Killer: Revised Edition by Ann Rule
52. Bestial: The Savage Trail of a True American Monster by Harold Schechter
53. Fiend: The Shocking True Story Of Americas Youngest Serial Killer by Harold Schechter
54. Deranged: The Shocking True Story of America’s Most Fiendish Killer! By Harold Schechter
55. Depraved: The Definitive True Story of H.H. Holmes, Whose Grotesque Crimes Shattered Turn-of-the-Century Chicago by Harold Schechter
56. The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers by Harold Schechter
57. Deviant: The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein, the Original “Psycho” by Harold Schechter
58. Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer-America’s Deadliest Serial Murderer by Ann Rule
The reviews are starting to roll in. Here are a selection of some of the fine quotes/recommendations ‘Blood Related’ has been given so far:
“Dark and deeply disturbing”
— Jonathan Nasaw, acclaimed author of The Girls He Adored and Fear Itself.
”Blood Related is a nasty but nuanced take on the serial killer genre. Cook’s bruising tale of twin psychopaths who are as cold as mortuary slabs is not for the weak-kneed.”
— Laird Barron, award-winning author of Occultation and The Imago Sequence.
“Blood Related is a terrifying psychological thriller. William Cook is an author to watch.”
— Mark Edward Hall, author of The Lost Village and The Holocaust Opera.
“William Cook makes serial killer fiction exciting again! Expert narrative, bursting with flare, originality, and enough passion and brutality that even a real-life serial killer will love this book . . . and it’s twisted and complex enough to make you question your own sanity after the first intense read.”
— Nicholas Grabowsky, best-selling author of Halloween IV and Everborn.
“A thought-provoking thriller!”
— Guy N Smith, legendary author of Night Of The Crabs and Deadbeat
“Great – Riveting – Amazing – take your pick. I just read William Cook’s Blood Related for the second time. Both readings were followed with one thought, Wow. A horrific crime-filled tale of terror that makes us understand why we lock our doors at night, Blood Related is by far the best read I’ve experienced in years.”
— John Paul Allen, author of Monkey Love and Gifted Trust
Stay tuned, will be profiling each of these great authors in the weeks to come.
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