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10 Most Violent Books: Exploring the Dark Side of Literature

“Violence has been my natural playground, and I know a little about it. And about the darker side of violence too, the violence that is within oneself. It’s just beneath the surface, lurking there, waiting, always ready to smash and destroy.”

Shane Stevens

This entry was inspired by Beau Johnson’s new book, The Abrum Files: A Bishop Rider Book. Those not familiar with Johnson, he is a Canadian crime noir/horror writer and the creator of Bishop Rider, a one-man vengeance machine who has appeared in several other books including Brand New Dark, A Better Kind of Hate, All of Them to Burn, and Old Man Rider. With these books, Beau is on a mission to tell the stories of his most popular character, Bishop Rider, whose sister and mother are brutally assaulted and murdered (while filmed) by human traffickers. Thus Rider becomes an avenging angel who scorches his way through the men responsible for his family’s demise. Once he’s had his revenge, Bishop Rider and his small crew don’t stop there. Through a series of books, Rider sledge-hammers (wood chippers?) a slew of degenerates, including kidnappers, child killers, rapists, and murderers, sparing no violence against some of the most wretched villains outside of Marvel Comic’s The Punisher. These evil doers are the slimmiest, most vile and corrupt motherfuckers you will ever read about and their evil doings are the stuff of nightmares. But the vengeance set on them by Bishop is often times much worse than their crimes (well, maybe). These stories are often times icky, bloody, and disturbing, but provide a satisfying visceral release for fans of grim violence. You will be transformed, if you’re not otherwise sickened, or turned away by the graphic violence (I take mine in small doses).

I’m looking forward to reading this new book when it arrives. Beau and his concordance of violence and retribution inspired me to write this treatise on violent literature. I’m often impressed by his characters relentless drive to do away with evil. All evil, everywhere, even if they have to scorch the entire planet to do it.

There will never be a time that this evil will be fully vanquished, but Bishop Rider will torch, hammer, hacksaw his way to justice. And in the end you’re almost convinced he’s rid the world of all its evil men, and then along comes his sidekick to finish the business of payback (more on that below). The characters and scenarios are so violent in Johnson’s books, that I started to think about other books I’ve read and the amount of violence one is capable of absorbing as a reader, and most importantly as a writer. I know the personal emotional hell it was to write something like my novel, (from Outcast Press). After reading my first Bishop Rider book, I wondered the kind of demons Johnson confronts in his mind that enables him to put these things down on paper. Or maybe he just enjoys writing about it. While not always crime noir, it isn’t quite horror either but it’s a pretty perfect mash up.

Lee Marvin once said, “Everybody wants to get even with someone”, and I think Beau knows that and runs with it. I’ll stop asking and wondering how he gets to that place and just be grateful the books in the series exist. Cold or hot, it doesn’t matter what temperature you serve vengeance, as long as you serve it. I’m sure karma comes to Bishop Rider for advice.

This blog entry was inspired by the aforementioned books, and the new spinoff in the series, The Abrum Files, which sees a sidekick character take over the acts of vengeance after Rider’s demise (sorry for the spoiler). Without irony, but with humor, blood, and hard impact to soft areas, Beau delivers on the viscera.

This entry is about the 10 most violent books I’ve read, because I feel that any Rider book ranks among them. I’ve said in interviews that I write violence in my books to come to terms with the violence and ugliness of the world. Violence is nauseating, painful, sad, terrifying; I can’t block the world and its ugliness, so I confront violence face to face and accept that sometimes it is an act of nature, and humans are the couriers of the universe’s malevolence.

Let’s take a gander at these 10 books. You might be familiar with some of them. I’ll add a short description for each one. If I include incest or assault on children, because of it’s extreme nature, it should be mentioned on the list. But reading the books of Bishop Rider by Beau Johnson always brings me back to these books filled with unrestrained atrocities. They could easily rank among them.

120 Days of Sodom, Marquis de Sade. Kidnapping, sexual assault, coprophagy, brutal beatings; second only to the bible in atrocities.

Eden Eden Eden, Pierre Guyotat. The most violent book I’ve read outside of the bible, Blood Meridian (see below), and the works of Marquis de Sade. This is one constant, incessant onslaught of war atrocities, sexual assault and depravity you’ll ever read, all smashed up into each other. One relentless stream of the most horrific acts one human can commit on another. Non-stop. That is the whole book. Really.

The Bible, King James Edition, various. Book of Judges seems to pack a lot of blood and violence. The seventh book in the bible also contains writings about the Ark of the Covenant which inspired that little field trip known as the Spanish Inquisition. Pick your favorite chapter, without which humanity would be all hugs and kisses.

Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy. Everything you’ve heard about this book, good, bad, indifferent is all true. I won’t bother with the exhibition of atrocities therein. Just remember it has blood in the title.

A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess. Sexual assault, the assault on the individual by a corrupt system. Lots of ugly violence, bursting with anarchy and dystopian insanity.

Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk. Just the part about the rifle shot to the jaw… Fight Club is a close second for being repellently violent.

Slob, Rex Miller. Greatest fiction serial killer of all time. So great, he eventually becomes a hero in the other books in the series.

Blood and Guts in High School, Kathy Acker. Avant-garde, violent, and filled with much incestuous journaling and body horror.

Baise Moi, Virginie Despentes. Sexual assault and revenge always go hand in hand. I’ll see your Baise Moi and raise you my own tale of vengeance, Perras Malas, which was inspired by it.

Dead City, Shane Stevens. See above quote. And ask Stephen King about Shane Stevens, and where he got his inspiration for The Dark Half. Ultra-realistic mafia violence. Bodies bludgeoned, shot, dismembered and disposed of in oil drums. ‘Nuff said.

In conclusion, Shane Stevens' words, inspired by Beau Johnson's Bishop Rider series, reflect a fascination with the dark side of violence. These violent narratives, while gruesome, offer a means to confront the harsh realities of the world and explore the disturbing facets of human nature, ultimately providing catharsis and understanding for both readers and writers. Make sure you get your copy of The Abrum Files: A Bishop Rider Book wherever books are sold.


Manny Torres is a writer, photographer and painter residing in Atlanta, GA. In addition to Dead Dogs, he also wrote the novella Father Was a Rat King (Uncle B. Publications) and the revenge thriller Perras Malas (from Outcast Press). Check out his books below.

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