Mostly I like to point my readers to overlooked horror fiction masterpieces so picking a bestselling author to profile might not seem like the best choice, but you need to know more about David Morrell. He is the best selling author of many books that get classified as thrillers and most well known as being the man who invented John Rambo in his debut novel First Blood. Just like colonel Truatman in the 1972 novel who had to deal with the consequences of his creation John Rambo so has Morrell.
He had to deal with the misplaced patriotism that ironically rose from the two sequels(another on the way), that led to toys and even a briefly syndicated cartoon. Like a trooper he stuck with his boy by writing two underrated novelizations. The hardest part for his fans is simply that First Blood is a kicker of a novel that was respected for its prose as well as it’s intelligence until it became known as the source material for the Rambo films.
Rambo was tragic figure fucked over by his government at every turn that trained him to be a killer and then spit him back into a world that couldn’t understand him. In the novel Rambo shows no restraint killing cops like Lindsey Lohan going through a coke stash. All because a Korean war vet redneck sheriff took him for a hippie. I can’t imagine how Morrell must have felt when a President Reagan invoked the name of Rambo in relation to his dealings with Libya. Telling the world that Rambo showed him what to do! What? John Rambo was a cop killer?
But I’m here to tell you about Morrell’s work as a horror author. Many of his thrillers are worth the read especially Covenant of the Flame, Brotherhood of the Rose and the amazing Long Lost. It is Morrell’s second novel Testament that ranks for me as one of the most white knuckle non-supernatural horror novels of all time. The story of a reporter who attracts the wrath of a white power militia and has to go on the run is a page turner like no other.
Morrell is a master at moving novels, ultra short chapters and perfectly crafted minimalist prose keep you turning pages long after you should be going back to work, or going to bed. He returned to the horror genre again in the 70’s with the novel The Totem which is widely considered to be a horror classic.
However it is in short stories where he dips into our beloved genre with the greatest results. His collections are Black Evening and Nightscape both include novellas and award winning shorts. For my money his short story ‘The Storm’ (in Black evening) is masterpiece that could make a killer episode of the masters of horror with the right director.
After years of devoting time to writing thrillers and founding the thriller writers association Morrell has recently returned to horror with his 2005 novel Creepers. That novel makes use of a horrific setting and showed me that Morrell has not lost any of his edge.
Sold yet? Give Morrell a read if you haven’t already he is one of the best.