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Book Review: Jackpot – Authors: Various

JackpotJackpot – by Shane McKenzie, David Bernstein, Kristopher Rufty, and Adam Cesare
Sinister Grin Press, 2014

Jackpot is the story of a young man named Booker who, after years of playing the lottery, finally hits it big. $200,000,000 big! He has been thinking about this for a long time, planning how he might spend his newly acquired riches. But before he can spend his first dollars, he has to deal with a conniving lawyer, who insists on “helping” him “invest” his new fortunes. There’s also the little old lady who buys lottery tickets at the same convenience store as Booker does and seems to think that she should have won, not him. He’s got to outwit both of them, as well as a few other characters, in order to keep his money and start building his dream house.

That synopsis on its own could very well be a John Hughes comedy, so let me add a couple more details. Booker is a serial killer. He collects victims, uses their ages as his numbers, and if he doesn’t win, kills them all and starts all over again. And you don’t want to know where he gets his winning powerball number. The lawyer, Frank, is one of the shadier characters in all of the book, really giving Booker a run for his money – and Booker KILLS people for fun. And the little old lady, Winona, is not only ruthless, but her family, a Texas Chainsaw Massacre style group starring an Elly May type daughter and brothers that will remind horror fans of Ike and Addley from Mother’s Day, back up her blood thirst with a vengeance. So Jackpot isn’t as innocent as it may at first sound.

In fact, this book doesn’t have an innocent page in its 142 page binding. This is a Sinister Grin Press release, which automatically means it’s gonna be nasty and it’s gonna be fun. This is another one of their multiple author releases, in the vein of Sixty-Five Stirrup Iron Road, and with some of the same contributing authors.

This time around we’ve got Shane McKenzie (Muerte Con Carne, Pus Junkies, All You Can Eat), Adam Cesare (Video Night, Summer Job, Exponential), David Bernstein (The Unhinged, Witch Island, Fecal Terror), and Kristopher Rufty (Angel Board, The Skin Show, The Lurking Season, as well as director of Psycho Holocaust and others). Rumor has it, Shane McKenzie was the ringleader of this one, but each contributes some of the story (and no, it’s not noted who writes what, but really, all of it is pretty reprehensible, so everyone is guilty here). But to read the book itself, it flows so smoothly that, unless you know there are multiple authors, you might not even know. And that’s a compliment to the story-telling abilities and writing chops of these four sick and twisted individuals.

Everything about this book is pretty disgusting, which, in turn, means everything in this book is pretty awesome. The character of Booker is a sympathetic, sweet, modest fellow who loves his mother, but in that Ed Gein kind of way. Actually, there’s not a single character in the book that we meet that we want to root for (this doesn’t count the early victims, of course, for all we know of them is their names, ages, and how their limbs and organs look separate from their bodies), but at the same time, we still care about what happens. It’s kind of similar to a movie like The Devil’s Rejects – we root for the bad guys, because the other people, despite their titles or positions in life, are somehow even worse.

Here’s the disclaimer: if you aren’t a fan of extreme horror, or explicit sex and gore, or splatterpunk, or however this book might get classified, then you’ll probably want to avoid Jackpot. It is extreme and not for all audiences. Then again, this isn’t a “mistakenly renting Pink Flamingoes because you really liked Hairspray” kind of situation; if you’re familiar with any of the four authors involved – and if you enjoy horror fiction, you really should be – then you can’t possibly be too surprised that this one is on the extreme and messed up side. Highly recommend this and anything by these authors and this press – THIS is the future of horror, be prepared folks.

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