Martin Thomas’s The Hand of Cain

The Hand of Cain – Martin Thomas
Magnum Books – 1967 (Originally published 1966)

When I see “An Occult Masterpiece” with a severed hand on its cover on sale for less than the price of a cup of coffee, I buy that shit.

I’m just going to summarize this one as I don’t have much to say about it. It is pretty much exactly what I expected.

Matthew, a triplet, has a thing for his brother Alan’s fiancee. He gets into a fight with Alan and kills him. Their dad, Virgil, sees the murder taking place, but covers it up as he is a famous surgeon and doesn’t want the scandal of a murder to harm his reputation. He is so unemotional and practical in the moments after he sees one of his sons killing the other that I almost gave up on the book. I was soon glad I didn’t.

A few weeks later, Timothy, the good remaining triplet, is involved in a tragic accident and gets his hands chopped off. His dad drives him home from the scene of the accident and prepares to operate. When Matthew, the bad triplet, gets home, his dad drugs him, chops off his hands and then sews them onto the good son. I almost cheered at this part. Sick!

Matthew is pretty bummed out that his dad cut off his hands, but if he says or does anything about it, his dad will out him as a murderer.

One night, he is moping around a nightclub when he meets an Indian dwarf who offers to curse his family for £200. After smoking a “reefer” with Swami Barham Lal Sivasan. Matthew passes out and wakes up in his car wondering if it was all a dream.

Soon thereafter, Timothy rapes and murders his dead brother Alan’s old girlfriend, the one Matthew liked. After killing her, he smashes her head with a rock. Then he kills a drunk man for puking on him. Then he kills a child for scratching his car. Are his brother’s transplanted hands to blame or is it the curse? Timothy soon gets sloppy and Matthew sees him dumping one of the bodies.

When the Swami comes to Matthew to demand payment, Matthew decides to blackmail Timothy to get the money. He takes glee in the idea that Timothy will be paying for his own doom. Timothy, who has since raped and killed another girl, doesn’t want to pay up, so the brothers get into a fight. Matthew uses a broken glass to turn Tim’s face into a pile of mush while Tim is choking him to death. One again, Virgil walks in to see one of his sons dying at the hands of his brother. He’s pretty pissed off at this point, so he gets an ax and uses it to chop off his remaining child’s hands. After Tim has his hands chopped off for the second time, he bleeds to death beside the brother he just strangled.

Grim.

I have absolutely no regrets about buying and reading this book. It was old fashioned in some regards. Women exist here solely to be preyed upon, and Indians exist to collect bus fares or curse people. It was definitely a bit nastier and exploitative than I expected, absolute trash really but definitely worth the 3 dollars I paid for it.

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