Roger Smith

Three desperate people flung together in a flesh frenzy of blood-drenched horror

Terror has left Skye Martindale muted and stunted for most of her seventeen years. Terrified of the dark Other that lives within her. The Other that must be suppressed and controlled. At all costs. Then one night an act of random violence unleashes a savagery so ferocious that she is forced to face who—and what—she really is.

Fear and grief have ravaged Deputy Sheriff Gene Martindale, leaving him cold and  remote, haunted by the lies he has told the world—and himself—about his foundling sister. But now the lying is over and he has to protect his young son from Skye. Even if that means killing her.

For five long years Junior Cotton—the twisted sadist who slaughtered Gene’s wife and unborn child—has been a caged animal. Now he’s broken loose and he’s coming after Gene and his sister. To take revenge and to reveal the truth about Skye. A truth that will damn her for eternity.

Praise for Vile Blood

"One of the most intense, graphic books I have ever read. The imagination of Max Wilde is a thing to behold." Elizabeth A. White Book Reviews

"Beyond horror." Florida Times-Union

"Lurid, gross and exciting-as-all-hell. Any fan of crime or horror that goes 'full dark' will groove on this something fierce." Spinetingler Magazine Top 10 Books of 2012

"Fast, bloody and evil. A compelling horror novel that leaves one looking forward to the sequel."

Literra Magazine

"Tough and ruthless. A book to devour." WDR2 (German national radio)

"Horror at its finest." Zauberspiegel

"An absolutely fascinating horror." Berliner Kurier

"Characters you care about, a nasty wit, and a strange kind of charm. Can't wait for the sequel."

Jack Ketchum, Bram Stoker Award Winning author of The Girl Next Door & The Woman

"Savage, bloody, and gruesome.There will be sequels and I need to know what happens next."


"True stomach-churning horror that takes no prisoners." Dave Zeltserman, author of The Caretaker of Lorne Field & Monster

Who the hell is Max Wilde?

A riff on pen names, doppelgängers,

horror comics and slasher movies

In an interview years ago the great American crime writer Donald E. Westlake talked about writing his brilliant Parker novels under the alias Richard Stark. He said that when he sat down to write as Stark he felt different. Thought differently. Wrote differently.

This always intrigued me and last year, when—out of nowhere—I had the glimmer of an idea for the horror novel that became Vile Blood, I knew I could never write it as Roger Smith. I needed to access another part of myself, dredge up a very different set of memories, influences and obsessions from the ones that fuelled my South African crime novels.

So Max Wilde walked in the door one day, sat down at my computer and started writing. Before dark he slipped away but he came back the next day and the next; spent months hunched over my laptop, hammering at the keyboard like a man possessed. Then he disappeared, leaving a file sitting on my hard drive. When I read those pages I was fascinated by what this other guy had jacked into and the memories that he was stirring up.

I was a kid in apartheid South Africa in the late 60s and 70s, a repressive time. The country was run by an Afrikaner Calvinist dictatorship and hand-in-hand with their sick racial policies went a suffocating Puritanism and sexual repression. Censorship was draconian, especially when it came to sex. Forget about reading D.H. Lawrence or William Burroughs or Nabokov’s Lolita. Sex scenes in Hollywood movies were chopped out with little regard to the narrative.

But violence was okay. Violence was part of South Africa’s frontier birthright, after all. So horror novels, comics and movies slipped under the censor’s radar.

I grew up reading the American Creepy and Eerie comics, those wonderful black and white anthologies of beautifully drawn and very frightening tales in which somebody did something unspeakably evil and—more often than not—got away with it. Man, I loved those stories.

I had a cousin who worked in a movie hire store after school. (We’re talking 16mm movies here, long before the days of VHS, never mind DVD and Netflix) He’d arrive at my house at night with a projector and boxes of movie reels. We both loved horror, and we’d sneak a couple of beers and watch things like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original), a memorable double feature, I Drink Your Blood and I Eat Your Skin, and  many other long-forgotten B-movie masterpieces. Lurid tales of flesh eating mutants and savage serial killers carving their way through the back roads of America.

What was up on screen wasn’t that different from what I was reading about in the newspapers. In the USA this was the dark time after flower power wilted, the time of the Manson gang and Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. Of Ted Bundy leaving a trail of dead women across seven states.  Of the Zodiac Killer. Of the “Killer Clown” John Wayne Gacy massacring boys and burying them in the crawl space of his Midwestern home. All set to the ominous soundtrack of Jim Morrison crooning about a killer on the road . . .

So, even though the idea that I—this other I, this Max Wilde doppelgänger—had written a horror novel came as a shock, the story that Wilde banged out didn’t. Vile Blood is set in an unnamed town, in an unnamed state, in an unnamed country, but it is clearly an imaginary America. The America that exported a particular brand of modern terror and colonized the world with it. And though Vile Blood is contemporary, it’s a book spawned by the dark creatures dancing in the flickering lamp of a 16mm movie projector and of the wonderfully hair-raising tales that rose from the ink of those old comic books.

And Max Wilde? I haven’t seen Max for a few months but I’ve caught his scent and  glimpsed something lurking in the shadows. I think he’s coming back . . .

Max Wilde is the pen name of award-winning crime writer Roger Smith.