Favorite Villains: Luther Kite

Welcome to Wild Card Wednesday.  Today, we’re going to talk villains.  I’m going to share a profile of one of my favorite villains. At the end of the post, I’ll invite you to share your favorite villain with me.

Luther Kite is a creation of horror author Blake Crouch.  He is a major character in Blake Crouch’s Andrew Z. Thomas trilogy, in which he first appears in DESERT PLACES.  He plays larger roles in the other two books of the trilogy, LOCKED DOORS and BREAK YOU.  Luther also stars in several short stories that appear in the SERIAL anthologies.

Luther is one of my favorite villains.  He’s extremely well-drawn.  In the Andrew Z. Thomas trilogy, Luther is a villain without a point-of-view (hereafter POV).  In many of the short stories featuring Luther, however, Crouch writes in Luther’s POV.

Getting to know Luther through reading about him in his POV didn’t have the Dexter effec.  By that, I mean Luther did not become a nice person.  He’s still the last person I’d want to encounter.  Let me tell y’all about him.

Luther is tall and thin.  He wears his black hair long.  His victims describe his black eyes  as soulless.  Luther’s teeth are brown and rotten because he steadily eats lemon candies, spitting out the candy’s center after he sucks away the outer coating.  Luther has a personal smell his victims associate with Windex.

Luther travels with a red craftsman toolbox.  Inside this toolbox, Luther has a collection of antique surgical tools.  Luther uses these tools to carry out torture sessions, which he calls painings.

Some of the items in Luther’s toolbox:

Artificial leech — At one point in medical history, bloodletting was thought to cure or prevent disease.  The artificial leech was considered to be a sterile and efficient method of bloodletting.  The spikes at the end of the aluminum tube laceratated the patient’s skin.  The aluminum tube vacuumed up the blood.

Scarificator — This instrument was also used for bloodletting.  It contained a series of twelve blades.  The device was cocked and a trigger released spring-driven rotary blades.  The blades made shallow cuts.  The scarifacator was considered considered one of the more merciful of the blood-letting instruments.

Cervical Dilator – Used to dilate a woman’s cervix during labor.  Fell out of use because it tore the cervix.

Circumcision Knife — Used to perform a circumcision on male children.

Lithotome — Used to cut the bladder to remove stones.  The shaft was inserted into the bladder.  Then, a hidden spring-loaded blade was released using the handle.

Tonsil Guillotine — Used to perform a tonsillectomy.  Though tonsillectomy by guillotine was popular in the 1800s, it fell out of practice in the early 1900s due to patients experiencing heavy bleeding and recurrent sore throats.

Blake Crouch never reveals exactly how Luther uses these items.  His readers are instead left to their own imaginations, which is quite possibly worse than anything Mr. Crouch could write.

Luther Kite was born in 1972.  He is the son of Rufus (AKA Sweet-Sweet) and Maxine (AKA Beautiful).  He grew up on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.  Luther and his parents lived in a very old stone house that has a labyrinth of corridors in the basement.

When Luther was five-years-old, he and his family were the victims of a brutal attack by two mean.  The men, whose names were Ben and Winston, ended the attack by kidnapping Luther’s sister Katie.  Katie, who was eight-years-old at the time, was never found dead or alive.

The attack was the undoing of the Kite family.  Luther, Rufus, and Maxine became ruthless murderers.  They kidnapped young girls to replace Katie and killed them when they didn’t work out.  As Luther got older, his parents sent him out to kidnap tourists whom they presumably murdered and buried in the enormous basement beneath the stone house.

Luther is known to kidnap men who remind him of Ben or Winston and torture them to death.

Luther and his father share a fantasy of a death/torture chair.  In LOCKED DOORS, Luther and his father build an electric chair to use on a victim.

In BREAK YOU, Luther has a torture chair built.  This chair effectively restrains the victim.  Luther can then choose to employ the following misery causing conditions:

  • Heat
  • Cold
  • Electricity
  • Perforation
  • Abrasion
  • Blunt Force Trauma
  • Pressure

Luther is mean, sadistic, ruthless, and scary.  Even when he’s on the losing end, he never begs for mercy.  It would seem a man like this would have no friends, but he does.

Luther’s best friend and mentor was the late Orson Thomas, brother of Andrew Z. Thomas.  Andrew is the star of a trilogy of books I mentioned earlier.  This trilogy begins with DESERT PLACES in which Orson buries a murder victim on Andrew’s property and frames him for the murder.

Even so, Luther is not someone to trust.  He’s not someone to underestimate.  He is, however, looking for new readers who enjoy being scared.  Are you curious enough to have a visit with him?

Floor is open.  Who is your favorite villain?  I’m always looking for new reading material.

Sources:

Museum of Quackery

Surgical Technologists: Scary Old Surgical Tools

Cult of Weird

34 thoughts on “Favorite Villains: Luther Kite

  1. My first thought it, why the hell haven’t I read these books, lol? They sound fascinating. And I love that the more gruesome details are left to the readers imagination. That’s a very effective tool.

    As for my favorite villain, it’s almost cliche, but I’d have to still say Hannibal Lector. No one has given me more chills and made me root for them at the same time like he does.

    • You absolutely need to read these. Start with Desert Places. You only meet Luther briefly there, but the events set up his grudge against Andrew Z. Thomas. Then, read Locked Doors where you will understand the full horror of Luther and why his grudge against Andrew Z. Thomas culminates the way it does in Break You.

      I wish you had a Kindle. I could lend the books to you Kindle-to-Kindle. I might still be able to lend them to you to read on your Kindle app on iPad or on your computer. Let me know.

      Hannibal Lector is ultra weird. It’s the cannibalism, I think. It’s such a taboo in our society. You know, I haven’t read any of the Hannibal books since I started writing. Maybe I need to re-read and see what I can learn as a writer.

  2. Catie, this guys is super villainous and perfect name! Must check him out…and that pic of him…ooooh. Love the bad guy. One of my favorites is Flagg from The Stand, one many may not know is he is also in King’s excellent YA novel The Eyes of the Dragon. Also, do you mean “Ocracoke Island” in NC? I’ve been there as my Dad lives nearby.

    • Donna, thanks for letting me know on the spelling of Ocracoke Island. My eyes don’t work like they used to. I genuinely thought I was spelling it right. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Oh well. At least I corrected it.

      I love Stephen King, and Randall Flagg from The Stand is an excellent villain. I have read Eyes of the Dragon fewer times than I’ve read The Stand, but I remember Flagg being in that book. I always wondered if SK was referring to the same Randall Flagg that was in The Stand.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. No, this is way too gruesome for me. Probably because it comes too close to the truth of what humans do to humans in real life. Horrifying! As much as I loved Hannibal Lecter, I never empathized with him. He was a terrible human being.
    Patti

    • I can’t believe I’ve found something too gruesome for my pal Patti. Luther is a very realistically written character. For my “villain research,” I read a books on criminal psychology and watch a lot of true crime stuff on TV. Luther fits the profile of a psychopath to a tee. He is so well written.

      Like you with Hannibal Lecter, I do not empathize with Luther. But I am in awe of how scary and real he is. When I pick up a book that has Luther Kite in it, I know I’m going to be horrified and possibly even feel nauseated. LOL

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. on ,
    PJ Sharon said:

    This is way too creepy for me. I get nauseous reading about it because of my ability to empathize with the victims. Writing a ruthless and merciless villain for my latest YA release was hard enough, because i could find no redeeming quality in him. He kidnapped and tortured little girls because he was an evil SOB. Those are the worst kind of villains. I tend to want to see the best in people and try to understand why they are the way they are. There is always some contributing factor to why people are psychotic, be it genetics or trauma related.

    I think the best villains are the one’s like Dexter, in whom you can find something of value and goodness down deep–beyond their tortured soul. It makes them much more interesting and multi-dimensional.

    Chilling post, as usual, Catie!

    • Some villains are just evil SOBs. They make your blood run cold because they operate on what I call “lizard brain.” (Which is my really technical medical term for sociopath or psychopath.)

      There is always a contributing factor to why people are psychotic, you’re right. But I also don’t necessarily think it justifies what they do. I mean, I do feel sympathy, but I also view the psychotic with a good deal of fear.

      Dexter is interesting because he’s a good guy who does bad things. I wonder if the very last episode of Dexter (by that I mean the series finale) is going to be Dexter losing his last trace of humanity. Or I wonder if the series finale will show Dexter deciding to go straight? I know, I know. It’s just a series. But I can’t help wondering.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Everybody who comments here is entitled to his or her opinion. If you don’t enjoy horror, you just don’t. My daddy and I used to argue about westerns vs. horror. I would tell him that westerns are stupid and formulaic. He would tell me that horror is stupid and formulaic. :D

  5. I don’t know if I could sleep at night after reading his book! Your review alone gave me chills….

  6. Yeah – way too creepy for me, too. However – I can totally see how Luther is the hero of his own story. He is punishing the evildoers who ravaged his family – over and over and over again. Still…wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley even in broad daylight.

    • Christine, I think that’s what fascinates me about Luther as a character. Of course, Blake Crouch has done something unusual by writing both books about Luther and stories in Luther’s point-of-view. Which, I guess, has made him the hero of his own story. This is a technique Rob Zombie used in The Devil’s Rejects, and it fascinated me then, too.

      And, no, I never want to meet Luther or anybody like him. I am afraid I’d end up becoming their victim. They are meaner and crazier than I am.

  7. I’ve never read the Crouch series and therefore hadn’t heard of Luther Kite before. I love how you envision him as Marilyn Manson. I personally like MM…for the most part. I’ll have to think about who my favorite villain is…. I do love Kyle Craig in the Alex Cross series.

    • I have read a few Alex Cross books but not enough to know who Kyle Craig is offhand. I remember being horrified by the villain in Kiss the Girls. The movie version had nothing on the book. IMHO, anyway.

      Marilyn Manson. I don’t know him or his music. I saw MM on either Celebrity Ghost Stories or Ghost Hunters. He told the creepiest story.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      • If you want to “hear” MM, check out his rendition of Sweet Dreams. It’s my favorite.. :) I also like his “Beautiful People” and his rendition of “Tainted Love.”

        • Oh, I’ve heard MM’s version of “Sweet Dreams.” I like that! It was on one the first episodes of Grimm, wasn’t it? I’ve also heard MM’s version if “Highway to Hell” and didn’t realize it. Thanks for getting me interesting in his work.

  8. on ,
    Dave said:

    I don’t have a favourite villain from a horror/ thriller movie or novel. They don’t really scare me or really interest me. It’s hard to explain but these loser lunatics are the kind of people I have imagined myself bringing to justice all on my own. Criminals in real life and very often in fiction prey upon the weak and vulnerable. Believe me: I would be in no moral quandary or I would have no fear in dispatching a serial killer or a child murderer.

    I like Darth Vader as a villain. He is super evil but he is saved in the end. Maybe he’s more of an anti-hero. I also like Police Inspector Javert from Jean Valjean too. He’s a non-typical villain.

    The most noteable villains for me are the non-fiction type. (I refrain from calling them favourite)
    Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. I’m a bit of a history hack and I find these people terrifying. To think they held sway over entire populations is unbelievable.

    • Loser Lunatics: You are correct. In both fiction and in real life they prey on innocent people. What I’m about to say next will sound odd. I believe that the more I know and understand about these people, the more I know what to look for…and hopefully not become a victim.

      Darth Vader: Luke, I am you father. He is a good villain, but that line runs through my head every time I think about him. And, of course, it’s James Earl Jones’s voice I hear when I think that line.

      I don’t know Police Inspector Javert. I will have to look him up and read a few of the books you’re talking about.

      HItler, Stalin, and Mao are terribly interesting for the exact reasons you mentioned. They were truly evil people who got other people to follow them. I always wonder how and why. Jim Jones interests me for the same reason.

      One last comment on Hitler. I took a history of the cinema class in college. The professor was showing us an example of a newsreel one day and explaining the differences in how the news was presented then and now. He used a newsreel of a German political speech from the early 1930s (I think–it was before Hitler came into power). On the very edge of the crowd, a young Hitler could be glimpsed, soaking it all in. The hair on the back of neck stood up.

  9. Very interesting post. I don’t know who my favorite villain is. I like villains that can be redeemed (do they still get to be villains?), villains that have a story that makes you understand how they could do the awful things they do.

    Evil with no back story, evil with no heart, that I’m not so much a fan of.

    Interestingly, as much as people seem to have a reaction to this Luther character being too villainous, I always wonder how much of a step it is to go from someone like Dexter to someone like Luther.

    • I would say the difference between Luther and Dexter is that Dexter only kills “the bad guys.” So his villainy is only perpetrated against people who “deserve it.”

      Luther’s villainy knows no limits. Nobody is safe from him. That’s what makes him scary and interesting–to me. Even though I understand him, understand why he’s the way he is, he’s still dangerous.

      Like you, I most enjoy villains who have a great backstory. That is, honestly, what keeps me watching Once Upon a Time. No matter how evil I think someone is (Mr. Gold) their backstory breaks my heart, and I sort of understand and hope they can be redeemed.

      Thanks for your comment.

  10. OMG, Catie! I have two maybe three of these books already waiting for me on my Kindle Cloud. They just moved up on my TBR list. Thanks!

    • Hooray! You totally need to try them out. Blake Crouch is becoming one of my favorite authors. He earns my highest rating: He scares me sometimes. :D

  11. Good heavens, I’m shivering now. I know my imagination can run wild after seeing those instruments and reading your descriptions. I do think I need to read a Blake Crouch. This would certainly count as one of my “not in my usual genre” choices for my personal 2012 reading challenge. Do I need to read his books in the daylight? I usually read right before I go to bed.

    • If you want to read Desert Places and have a Kindle app on one of your devices, you can borrow it from me. Also, Blake Crouch has made a deal with Overdrive media, which means his stuff is available at most libraries that offer ebooks.

      I don’t know about reading it at night. Depends on what scares you and how prone you are to nightmares.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  12. on ,
    Donna Coe-Velleman said:

    I am going to the library today and was wondering who I could take out. Now I know. Thanks.
    I love your term “lizard brain”. Sums it up nicely.

    • Lizard Brain is a very technical medical term. LOL

      I love the library. Our library has added ebooks for Kindle or Nook, and I have been enjoying that quite a bit.

      Thanks for stopping by. :D

  13. on ,
    CB399 said:

    I read all the short stories by Blake Crouch and J.A. Konrath basically Serial Killers Uncut has all of them in it. Well I read those before I read the trilogy and even from the just those small stories where Luther was only in some of them he was already my favorite. Sick and disturbing, but my favorite none the less. I think knowing exactly how he became the person he is and understanding him makes him more relatable. If you haven’t read Stirred yet which comes after the trilogy you should it’s really good. (Blake and J.A. say it’s the last in the Jack Daniels and the killers series, but they kind of left it open so hopefully they will change their minds.) I actually read Stirred before I read the trilogy and so when I started reading the trilogy I was kind of sad knowing the outcome of the characters. Specifically Violet. So when Luther was like “I look at her and think maybe she’ll make me different.” A part of me was rooting for him to take her and them live “happily” ever after.

    • Thanks for recommending Stirred. I have not yet read it, but I do intend to. I want to see how things end up for Luther.

  14. on ,
    KAREN BEATTIE said:

    I just starting reading Blake Crouch books and agree that LuthervKite is one of my favorite villains to date.