Friday, March 20, 2015

Death Merchant #39: The Fourth Reich

This volume begins six weeks after the previous book, The Burning Blue Death, ended. Richard "Death Merchant" Camellion has destroyed the Transmutationizer, the human combustion weapon developed by the neo-Nazi group, The Brotherhood, that could turn a person into a small pile of ashes in mere minutes. Camellion also smashed the West German chapter of the Brotherhood.

When The Fourth Reich starts, Camellion is in Scotland. trying to rescue agent Loren Korsey from a ruined abbey. Korsey has infiltrated another segment of the Brotherhood, but has not reported in as scheduled. (This portion of the Brotherhood is led by a fanatic named Sir Hugh Kilsyth MacLean, who believes that the people of Scotland were also part of the Aryan race.)

After the Death Merchant rescues him, we learn about the Brotherhood's latest plans: triggering an atom bomb (twice as powerful as that used on Hiroshima) in Cairo, a blast which will be blamed on Israel. They also plan on assassinating the president of the United States using three Cuban pasties to implicate both Castro and the Soviet Union.

Right away, in the first five pages, we get several turns of phrase and asides that could only come from the mind of Joseph Rosenberger:
"Korsey reported that arms and ammo are hidden beneath the ruins of the abbey. Unless they are buried, that means some kind of room. And I'll wager that's where they're holding Korsey - if they haven't already killed him. Damn, it's quiet. I can almost hear my toenails growing."

"Kingman? He's a natural-born killer and a ten-carat survivor. He could take care of himself in the middle of south Chicago!"

"In spite of all the preposterous rubbish about the human species being gregarious, an individual was born alone and died alone - and if he has the sense God gives to retarded frogs, he'll realize that he lives alone."
The main plot of the book - Camellion hunts down MacLean and his henchmen (which includes a super-wealthy ex-SS officer who is bankrolling the plot) - unfolds like most Death Merchant books. Camellion assembles an attacking force of three other men and invades MacLean's mansion. This time, they are captured, but Camellion leads a wild escape that begins when he removes his handcuffs with the tools of the lock-picking Plan he keeps lodged in his rectum. The shootout throughout the mansion is one of the better action sequences from Rosenberger in the last few books. However, as they emerge into the sunlight, they see MacLean flying off into the distance in his private plane.

That simply necessitates another assault, this time on Bracadale Manor, a secluded castle that MacLean inherited from his late ex-wife. This is also the location of the bomb shelter where MacLean and his trusted aides will stay when the Cairo A-bomb goes off. (How many castles and/or manors has Camellion attacked/destroyed so far in this series? It seems like five or six by now!)

What is more interesting to me than the battle scenes - though the description of the gore is often darkly humorous and the hand-to-hand fighting is mind-numbingly detailed - are the unique asides that Rosenberger throws into his manuscript.

Camellion muses - as he did in the last book - that "the United States, along with the rest of civilization is doomed":
The 6,000 year old era was coming to a close. It was all a matter of cycles. Time cycles repeat because human nature does not change. That is why wars occur at regular intervals. For the same reasons, civilizations rise and fall.

Already the United States was in the Indian Summer of its culture, a "summer" that would be of very short duration. The time was drawing near for mobocracy, to be followed by dictatorship, by Caesarism.

All the elements were present, but Americans would never recognize them - of course, the human species is self-destructive. We can expect no less from Americans, who are emotional about petty things, addicted to hero worship, and are used to bosses and regimentation in their daily lives. Without realizing it, they permit themselves to be conditioned by government and corporate bureaucracies and indoctrinated by the standardized mass media. Gregarious, they join clubs, councils, leagues, associations, lodges, fraternities and societies. They follow but seldom lead. They do not realize that there is no deadlier form of self-deception that forcing the worthy elements of a civilization to become the servants of the drones ...

There were other signs of the approaching fall of democracy the savage class wars that would erupt between 1980 and 1985! A leader who was a naive idealist, who had convinced himself that only he knew what was good for the nation.

Equally dangerous was the growing role of women that had led to many changes in public opinion. The desire for freedom had been replaced by a desire for security. As if freedom were compatible with security. Security can best be maintained in a prison. Or a hospital. There was the tendency to focus on the child; there was the youth worship syndrome, the desire to avoid risks at all costs, and the emotional personalization of issues and the high suspicion of individualism. The same as in ancient Rome, mused the Death Merchant.
I wish I knew how much of this was Rosenberger's actual opinion/outlook. Since slight variations of it appear in multiple books, I have to assume a lot of it is the author's belief.

Rosenberger also uses the gathering of nine agents to present some discussions on gun control, jail sentences, and idiotic liberals, with the German BND agents being "verbally outgunned" (as everyone eventually is!) by Camellion's iron logic and common sense. ... The Death Merchant eats a box of dried figs while he lectures the group.

"The TNT impact blew a hole in him the size of a Florida Sunkist orange."

"... stitched him from tailbone to tonsils"

"By ourselves, we'd have as much chance on the first floor as worm-eaten apples hanging in a high wind."

"The explosion made Camellion and the other four feel like they were locked in a metal drum while a dozen midgets pounded on the sides and each end with sledge hammers."

"... ten .45 caliber projectiles blew out Woofs stomach, leaving a hole big enough to stuff in a football!"

"Camellion muttered, "Your father passed out blindfolds when you were born!" and took out the German with a left legged Mae Geri Kekomi ..."

"The swarm of 9mm Parabellum missiles stabbed into Hahn's throat and chest, the tremendous impact spinning him around. The windmills of his mind turned to a billion splinters. Life and all reality became plastic models and the delusion ended."

"Today we learned again what the human race has known since recorded history, that every battle must have its dead. (And only the Cosmic Lord of Death is always the real winner!)"

Also: Some of the Scottish enemy are labelled "bagpipe boobs", while the Germans are referred to as "Hitlerheads" and "Nazi halfwits"; Rosenberger has done far better than this in the past. ... Camellion calls someone's Blackberry brandy "giggle-water".

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