Mapping the Terrain of Used and Rare Books
In his first novel – “First Blood” – David Morrell invented the character John Rambo. Now, isn’t that a statement?
A man walks into a bar and announces “I created Rambo! I am one notch of a man above Sylvester Stallone!” Swarthy gentlemen all around buy him double-shots of the oakiest whiskey in the world. After closing they all don finely-tuned custom hunting rifles and march into some remote and hostile wilderness, avoiding many cunning booby-traps, and meticulously assassinate their enemies. They cook the flesh of their foes for food and don the hides of the bears that they single-handedly strangled for warmth. They wander the snowy woods for months, seeking vengeance. Some do not survive, the ones that do are fueled by the fires of Survival and further Vengeance.
None of these men have any formal outdoor training. Most are stock-brokers or stay at home Dads. Their enemies are trained militia. The men hide in camouflaged shelters strategically constructed in the middle of the woods during a raging blizzard. There is five feet of drifting snow in the desolate wilderness. They manage to skillfully kill all their enemies with carefully planned maneuvers.
The question that lies at the heart of reviewing this book: Is This Ridiculous?
Answer that question and you will find the only issue that I have with this otherwise excellent novel. It is finely written, suspenseful, heartbreaking, and merciless. But, again, without giving away any plot-points, please refer to the stated question above. It’s just this nagging inability to suspend disbelief that a middle-class family can become John Rambo overnight. Otherwise, like I said, it’s one king-hell of a read.
And I haven’t even gotten into the vaguely supernatural ghost-town that appears on no maps. Or the strange old man who is half mad with memories of more than heinous* atrocities from long ago.
Maybe one is supposed to suspend disbelief and just soak in the deeper, possibly allegorical elements of the book. Who knows? I just know that I enjoyed it and it stands very tall over Morrell’s more recent bestsellers such as “Scavenger” and “Creepers”…. While entertaining, those books are mere beach-reading compared to this disturbing, psychologically-probing book.
Read it, take it as it is. WWRD. (What Would Rambo Do)
*Remember, as a wise man once said: “Heinous” is not a word to be used lightly.