Family Business by Brett Williams (Comet Press)
Unable to convince her husband that they are ready to become p
arents, Erika decides to buy a dog. Her search for the perfect little Yorkie takes her to the backwoods of Missouri and the secluded farm of Levi and his twisted kin. While touring the filthy backwoods puppy mill, Erika soon discovers more than animals in the cramped cages. Now Erika is trapped, and her captors are not interested in her money…
Backwoods farm- Check
Buck toothed Hill Billy’s- Check
Damsels in distress- Check
On the hunt for a puppy to fill the childless void in her life, young beauty Erika finds herself the prisoner of a truly fucked up family. The story unfolds as she finds herself captive in a small cage, in a barn with two other females and about two hundred mistreated dogs. From here it gets steadily worse as her predicament dawns on her in horrifying chapters, each worse than the last, as the abuse gets further harrowing as Erika and her cell mates are repeatedly raped and abused. And then it gets worse. Now would be enough to put me off, but Williams writes so damned well, he makes you care about the characters and hooks you in so you need to know what happens next.
We gradually meet the members of the family that have lured her to her new found hell, each more messed up than the next. Levi, the father of the clan, and the evil mastermind behind the sick scheme; the pretty boy Jake, who is anything but pretty on the inside; Bub, the thick headed brother and a warped product of both nature and his environment, despite his wayward innocence. And finally we have Bobbi-Jean, a jail-baiting, teenage temptress with a head for business and a body for sin.
To say Family Business is an intense novel would be an understatement. Dealing with some very dark themes on one page, then being laugh out funny in the next, makes for a bizarre experience. I found myself cringing at the scenes of abuse, but the slapstick and bickering that takes place provide much needed comic relief, as otherwise this would be a very depressing story indeed. But it evolves, as does Erika. She soon realises she isn’t completely useless, but is much stronger than she thought as she can utilise sex as a weapon against her captors.
The characters (wonderfully brought to life in audio book by Joe Hempel’s narrative) are as individual and real as you or I, despite fulfilling stereotypes. His performance is flawless and utterly convincing at creating pathos in a scene. He’s got a real knack for getting the anguish and desperation out of the characters.
Fans of Richard Laymon, when he’s at his smuttiest, or Ray Garton’s Trailer Park Noir will lap up this southern slice of down-right dirty psycho sex horror. With genuine, gut-wrenching horror and laugh out loud moments (meth enema anyone?), Family Business is a must for any fans of hardcore horror. (Nathan Robinson)