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.
While you’re there be sure to check out all the other titles. Hell! You can even buy a cool t-shirt with Blood Related emblazoned across the chest.
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.
Cook knows his material. The contemporary standard for a serial killer novel is, in my opinion, American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis. The fact that I can measure Blood Related against this standard suggests that Cook has accomplished what few writers can with the serial killer story. I’ve seen Blood Related appear on a few “Best of” lists; I expect Cook to receive accolades for this novel, and future endeavors.
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…..
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.