First published back in September of 2014, ‘Jackpot’ formed the first brutal instalment in a planned trilogy, co-written by Shane McKenzie, Adam Cesare, David Bernstein and Kristopher Rufty.
With the Powerball jackpot now over a jaw-dropping $200million, Booker was convinced that this was going to be his lucky draw. After all, he’d put a lot of effort into choosing his lucky numbers. He stood there in his sound-proofed garage, surrounded by five random victims, all suffering from the varying degrees of torture that he’d inflicted upon them so far. Each one of them, shaven bald, their lips cut off and mouths glued shut; the palms of their hands and soles of their feet flayed and glued together. As he perused the hurting forms around him, he realised he felt good about this group. He felt lucky.
Now he worked his way around the group, digging out their wallets and purses; locating their driver’s licences from within. The first one he came to was a young lad who only had a provisional licence. The boy’s age read sixteen years old. Booker had his first number.
Pulling out his trusty box-cutting knife, Booker proceeded to carve the number sixteen into the bald head of the boy. His attentions then turned to the next one in the group.
Soon enough all five of his captives had their age sliced into their heads. Now all he needed was the Powerball number. That lucky sixth number that would make up his complete set. His eyes move back around to number twenty-nine. Her swollen belly, home to his final number. Although of course, he can’t use zero, so he might as well round up to one with this one.
If he’s honest with himself, he doesn’t expect to win. That’s why he tells them that they will all live if he does. A pact. A way of making them believe in their numbers. Making the numbers all the more lucky.
However, luck is finally on Booker’s side. When all six of his numbers are read out on that night’s lottery draw, Booker is suddenly made a multi-millionaire. The lottery will allow him perks he could only have dreamed of. His thoughts move to his fantasy of a mansion dedicated to torture and pain. A fantasy that could now become a reality. But first he’ll have a van custom made to accommodate his needs. It would be his Kill Van.
Meanwhile, although Booker had requested his win be kept from the public eye, Frank Lambrick has used his contacts to get Booker’s details. This is a big win. And he wants a piece of it. As a lawyer specialising in lottery chasing, this was what he did. But no wins came as big as this one. He just needed to gain Booker’s trust. Then and only then could he start syphoning off the money.
But Booker’s win had also sparked off the unwanted attention of others. The murderous Rollins clan believed the money was rightfully theirs. And now they have their eyes on Booker and his newfound riches…
So you like your fiction brutal and uncompromising do you? Well then, ‘Jackpot’ is definitely something you’ll want to get your grubby mitts on. Co-written by four authors who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of good taste to truly sickening proportions, ‘Jackpot’ is one gritty trip into a depraved world of murder, torture and gut-churning mutilation.
From the very first page the authors unleash a veritable barrage of absolute horror – with Booker as the principal focus of the blood-soaked carnage. The plot itself is wonderfully original and offers up the potential for one hell of a bloodbath. And from the very outset the authors capitalise on it with absolute gusto.
The character of Booker is possibly the most twisted anti-hero since Frank Cauldhame from ‘The Wasp Factory’ (1984). In fact, the novel has no real protagonist, just a handful of psychos who make Ed Gein look like a cartoon villain in comparison. Indeed it’s fair to say that Gein’s crazy-ass antics formed a predominant inspiration for many of the nastier elements within the novel. Booker’s trailer-trash house is a testament to his degraded mind-set. Booker’s long-dead mother who he still has his uses for (don’t ask), his dead skin masks, his taste for necrophilia and murder – it’s all in there. If you spliced together Ed Gein with David Parker Ray and added in a bucket-load of Jeffrey Dahmer’s cannibalistic tendencies, then you’d be on the way to painting a picture of what sort of character Booker is.
Throughout the length of the novel the reader is subjected to scene after scene after scene of inventive and really quite imaginative ways of torturing the numerous victims. Like something from ‘The Human Centipede’ (2009), without the inclusion of a medical experimentation angle, Booker subjects his victims to an array of nauseatingly cruel acts designed for a maximum gross-out effect.
But Booker isn’t the only sicko in the book. Hell no! If that’s not enough for you we’re also treated to an inbred Texas family akin the murderous family from Tobe Hooper’s ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (1974). Add in a lottery-chasing lawyer who has absolutely no morals whatsoever, and you’ve got a hotbed for some seriously messed-up shenanigans.
However what’s possibly the hardest to swallow is the fact that you invariably start rooting for Booker. Don’t get me wrong, the character’s one sick and twisted psycho. He chose an unborn baby to be one of his lucky lottery numbers for Christ’s sake! But in a similar way to Leatherface, Hannibal Lector, Jason Voorhess etc, you can’t help but start to side with the wacko. After all, there’s no doubt something wrong with you if you’re reading a novel with a cover sporting a slashed-up decapitated head, with lottery balls where the eyes should be and the number ‘50’ carved into it.
The novel itself reads incredibly well. The storyline jumps between three different threads, keeping the pace fast and full of action and grim horror. On top of all this the authors throw in a sex-hungry Detective whose libido brings him into the thick of the storyline, rather than as the result of any proper detecting. The inclusion of this racy edge to the storyline was a spot on decision; adding an extra element into the mix to keep the novel feeling less single-minded in its gorebound mission.
Ultimately this is an absolute beast of a tale. From start to finish its adrenaline-pumping splatterpunk with barely a moment’s respite. The violence is extreme. The torture is utterly gut-churning. The gore is so over-the-top it’s mesmerising. If you thought Hutson’s ‘Chainsaw Terror’ (1984) was nasty…think again!
The novel runs for a total of 137 pages.
© DLS Reviews