Never judge a book by its cover…

I bought a few books…..well 16 actually….at the recent “Friends of the Library” book sale. Our local library had a stack of discarded books to get rid of so a book sale was the order of the day. Only NZ 50 cents per book. So I grabbed a few bargains –  having only a quick look at the covers and thinking “yep I’ll have that one…..and that….and that”.

One such book was “Nightscape” by David Morrell.  I have read a lot of his books in the past and mostly they are of the espionage/assassin genre. The first 3 books of his I read were “The Brotherhood of the Rose”, “The Fraternity of the Stone” and “The League of Night and Fog”. All were brilliant books predominantly about assassins. Full of twists and turns, action and adventure, destruction and mayhem.  Morrell is probably most famous though for writing the Rambo novel “First Blood”. I have, since then, read many more of his books – all of them extremely well written and fast paced. He has a way of writing that propels you at speed to the very last page.

Anyhow I broke the cardinal rule about never judging a book by its cover and assumed from the moody night in the city shot on the front of the book that it would be more of the same (a story about assassins). WRONG! It’s actually a book of short stories. I cast aside my initial disappointment though, opened the book and started to read. I absolutely barrelled my way through the intro and 5 of the 8 stories in the first sitting. This guy writes nail biting assassin stories, but his short stories – none of which are about espionage or assassins – certainly had my eyes glued to the page.

The intro is about Morrell’s life as a child and his stormy relationship with his mother and his step-father. The step-dad was a complete arse by the way!

The short stories are a mixed bag of subjects ranging from “Remains To Be Seen” – about a trusted soldier being tasked with spiriting a crate (contents unknown) out of a beseiged city to finally deliver it to his Excellency, after having to change plans several times enroute……to one called “ELVIS 45” in which an English Lit professor decides to run a course of lectures about the culture of Elvis Presley – a very dramatic ending to that one!

All of the stories have “interesting endings” – so even if you are able to guess how a couple of the stories will turn out, there is enough intreague in how the story develops to keep you reading.

The blurb on the back of the book says ” By and large the kind of tales an author writes are metaphores for the scars in the nooks and crannies of his/her psyche. In David Morrell’s youth, thrillers and horror stories provided an escape from his nightmarish reality. Is it any wonder that, as an adult obsessed with being a writer, he has compulsively turned to the types of stories that provided an escape when he was a child? In his own words, perhaps he is eager to provide an escape for others. Or perhaps he is still trying to escape from his past.”

Written with a haunting emotional intensity and lightning pace that has made Morrell the master of action/suspense writing. The short story collection includes the short novel “Rio Grande Gothic” – and will leave you wanting more. It certainly has with me.

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