"Blood Related" Book Review
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.