Friday, August 05, 2011

46. Bloody Sunday by Frank Scarpetta

Okay, now we're talking!  No more of these sensitive chick books!  What a breath of fresh air to finally wallow around in the mud of good old fashioned killing of mafia and hippies and balling young hippie chicks.  Bloody Sunday was weirdly really good in parts, appropriately pornographic in others and basically workmanlike in its ensemble.

We start in medias res, with no real back story or history for the protagonist, Magellan.  He has been shot in the shoulder after wiping out a nest of mafia scum in one city and ends up in another.  An old woman finds him in the alley and takes him home.  She is originally from the country and one of the few good people in the bad part of the city.  Turns out she had 12 sons, only 2 of whom are still alive and the last one got killed trying to find out what happened to his daughter.  What did happen was that she had been sent to an apartment as a replacement stenographer for a meeting with some big time businessmen.  The meeting turned into a party and they wanted her to join along.  She didn't want to party and they threw her out the window.

So though we are almost already halfway through the book (he also dispatches the local enforcer and his superiors who are extorting the old lady), Magellan now has his new mission.  The second half of the book is him hunting down each of the four businessmen, figuring out how to get to them, getting to them, killing all their men and then torturing them to death after letting them know why. This is really the porn here.  There is some sex (and I have to say it wasn't bad, especially the lead-up stuff; I guess I'm becoming the perverted middle class, middle-aged white male demographic Scarpetta is targetting) but it's the descriptions of the exit wounds and the bodies spinning and the long-drawn out final torture (which really is gruesome) that push this book into pornography.  But hey, I'm not really complaining!  Those scumbags had it coming to them.

Parts of this book, though, were actually quite well-written.  There are way, way too many adjectives and lots of run-on sentences, but otherwise it's sparse and direct and at times even quite effective.  The final torture scene takes place on a field of cows and the whole thing is punctuated by the cows themselves, who at first nervously hover around and then, when the torture really gets going, totally freak out.  It worked very well to ramp up the tension and horror of the scene.
There was a small, squat structure a few yards from the feeder.  Several of the cattle snorted with fright and raced away again as he walked toward it, their tales whipping as their hooves thudded against the ground.  They lumbered around and crashed through the brush to circle and come back in their agony of terrified fascination with him and the break in the monotony of the long night of their lives.
During my vacations I took a walk that passed several fields of cows and I have to say that "their agony of terrified fascination" perfectly describes their reaction to me.  It was rather unsettling.

I have learned through this post on the Glorious Trash blog, that Bloody Sunday is actually The Marksman #20, part of one of the many series in this sub-genre.  I'd love to find out the history behind the series, who were the real writers, who was behind the publishing.  Probably some good stories behind that history.


Doc said...

Please tell me that "nursing him back to health" involved lots of naughty lovin'! (Oh wait, is this the woman with 12 kids? Is she still hot anyway? How old is she?)

OlmanFeelyus said...

Somebody knows his genre!

It turns out, of course, that she also has another young grand-daughter staying with her and she is the one who takes over the nursing. This is especially helpful in trying to break his fever, when he gets the extreme chills and can't warm up until she takes off her clothes and gets in bed with him, pressing her young, lithe, warm body against his!

Actually, that brings up another moment that elevated this book. Once the grand-daughter take over the nursing, she becomes strangely aggressive to her grandmother (who is pretty mellow about the whole thing, but does throw out a comment), yelling and swearing at her to ensure that it is clear that she is now taking care of Magellan. It was sort of odd, but also did seem to capture some of the rawness of the world of poverty.

Joe Kenney said...

I meant to post on here a while back -- this volume was actually written by Aaron Fletcher. It was reprinted by Leisure in 1981 or so under Fletcher's name. I think he must've written the majority of the later Marksman novels, as many of them were later reprinted under his name, only without "The Marksman" in the title. I haven't gotten to this volume yet; I'm still in the single-digit entries. And thanks for the link to my blog!

OlmanFeelyus said...

Thanks for the historical tidbit!