Friday, March 9, 2018

Book Review: Hero and the Terror


Book Review: 'Hero and the Terror' by Michael Blodgett


3 / 5 Stars

‘Hero and the Terror’ (251 pp) first was published in 1982; this New English Library paperback was issued in 1988 as a tie-in with the Chuck Norris film released that year.

The novel (which differs quite a bit from the movie) is set in Los Angeles in the early 80s. The eponymous Hero is Herrero Fiddleman (!?), son of a Jewish father and Puerto Rican mother. Hero, who is in his mid thirties, has movie-star looks, drives a black 1967 Porsche convertible, owns a dachshund named Stretch, has a model named Kay for a girlfriend, and lives aboard a houseboat anchored at a marina near Venice Beach. Hero is revered by Los Angelenos for being the city’s top cop: tough, brave, and ready to put himself on the line to maintain law and order.

Hero is contemplating retiring from police work and moving with Kay to the countryside, but one loose end continues to occupy his mind: the apprehension of the brutal serial killer known as The Terror. After killing 22 young women in the Venice area throughout the 70s, in 1979 The Terror suddenly ceased his atrocities. Is The Terror truly gone………..or just biding his time before re-emerging to continue his atrocities ?

As the novel opens, another young woman is murderer, and the modus operandi is the same as those used on the victims of The Terror’s previous depredations. It’s up to Hero to resume his investigation of the killer……….but this time, the urgency for capturing the murderer is even greater. For The Terror has laid his eyes on Kay……….and found her eminently desirable…….

‘Hero and the Terror’ contains a bit less porn and splatterpunk content than Blodgett’s earlier novel Captain Blood, presumably because it’s shorter in length. That said, what splatterpunk content is present in ‘Hero’ doesn’t shirk; for example, a brief segment describing a do-it-yourself hemorrhoidectomy will stay with me for a long, long time………..

The opening chapters of the book are the best, as Hero confronts a particularly loathsome and repulsive villain who is something of a brother to Baron Harkonnen from the novel Dune.

Unfortunately, the narrative starts to stall in its middle chapters, as author Blodgett uses seemingly unending flashback sequences and subplots to get the novel to its necessary word count prior to evolving to the grand finale involving the confrontation between Hero and The Terror. Said confrontation is overlong, and at times contrived, which is why I can't award the book more than three stars.

Summing up, as a uniquely deranged character, The Terror certainly delivers in the California Crazy department; it wouldn't surprise me if he was in some regard an inspiration for the character Daniel 'Chaingang' Bunkowski in Rex MIler's 1987 splatterpunk classic Slob. If those types of villains appeal to you, then getting a copy of 'Hero and the Terror' may be well worth your while.

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