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HERO AND THE TERROR
By MICHAEL BLODGETT (Harmony Books; 1982)

This is the little-known second novel by the late Michael Blodgett, whose first, the astonishing CAPTAIN BLOOD, inspired a fair amount of controversy. HERO AND THE TERROR, alas, inspired little attention of any sort; note the bland cover art and dearth of critical blurbs on the hardcover edition. Thereís a reason for the neglect, of course, as truth be told this simply isnít a very good book.

     HERO AND THE TERROR is a diverting read, however, propelled by Blodgettís robust prose and uniquely twisted imagination. The shame is that in spite of those things Blodgett was never much of a storyteller. CAPTAIN BLOOD, letís remember, worked better as a picturesque travelogue than a straightforward narrative, and HERO AND THE TERROR, which appears to have been Blodgettís attempt at creating a more straightforward commercial thriller, is nearly as episodic, with an achingly simple, paint-by-numbers narrative that can be adequately summed up thusly: a serial killer takes up residence in the air ducts of an LA movie theater until Hero, a determined cop, takes him down.

     Said serial killer isnít exactly in the same league as better-known fictional monsters like Hannibal Lecter or Chaingang Bunkowski, but Blodgett draws a fairly chilling portrait of a high powered attorney with a deteriorating mind, enhanced by the authorís gift for telling details. The figure of Hero the determined cop, unfortunately, isnít nearly as well drawn, he being a narcissistic poetry-spouting jock who, as his moniker signifies, is a tireless crusader for justice who can do no wrong (itís telling that the protagonist of the movie version of this book hates being called Hero, while the guy herein has no problem with it).

     But again, in this book the details are all-important. The plot may be flimsy and predictable, but the many gruesome segues are quite arresting. They include Heroís encounter with an unidentified bum whose entire face has been eaten away, a flashback of the Terrorís father cutting out his hemorrhoids with scissors, a minutely described four page(!) sexcapade between Hero and his girlfriend, a bleak recounting of the lives of twin sisters whose intertwined existence wavers between extreme hatred and depravity, and a child molester who taunts cops by waving his dick around. Truly, a literary imagination as twisted as Michael Blodgettís is a rare thing indeed, but it needs a stronger framework than that of HERO AND THE TERROR.  

     

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