Sunday, October 27, 2019

82. Testament by David Morrell

Despite the unattractive modern "best-seller" look of this copy, it was David Morrell's name that grabbed my eye in the thrift store and the 1975 original publishing date that sealed the deal for me to pick this book up. I would love to find an original paperback copy but am happy to have this one, as I didn't have to worry about keeping it in good shape while travelling.

It starts off about as rough as you can get and written skillfully that you are caught up in the momen, while wondering what the hell is going on and yet somehow being almost fully in the picture by the second chapter.  It's rough, almost too brutal.  The plot is that Reuben Bourne, a thriller writer who also does long-piece journalism on the side, has written an expose piece on the leader of a white supremacist movement.  The leader knew he was going to be charged with a crime soon and was using the journalist to put him in a good light, which Bourne in his conscience decided not to do.  Now the leader will exact his revenge, which is what happens right at the beginning of the book.  Their organization is sophisticated with sympathizers embedded in law enforcement and Bourne and his family are forced to go on the run.

The revenge exacted is so brutal as to be almost unbelievable, and definitely so horrifying that I contemplated not reading anymore.  I am not into excessive nastiness as a literary ploy in thrillers and Morrell almost crosses a line here.  However, these are really the catalyst that set the rest of the book in motion, an adventure of flight and survival, much of it taking place in the mountains and the winter.  In the foreward (that I read afterward), Morrel explained that the literature on outdoor survival wasn't convincing enough for him, so he did a 5-week NOLS course.  He puts his training to work in the story here!

As I should have expected from Morrell, this book is more thoughtful and complex than just a straight up survival/revenge thriller and while I was hoping for something a bit easier, in the end, this was quite interesting and rewarding. His foreward also helped to make the less satisfying ending in the narrative more understandable.

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