Monday, March 23, 2015

Death Merchant: Fruits & Vegetables

Joseph Rosenberger's action-adventure books of the 1970s and 1980s are known for having pages and pages of intricately-described action - both firearms and martial arts - coupled with a commensurate amount of gore. In reading Rosenberger's Death Merchant series, I've found that he regularly used fruit and vegetables as metaphors in his extremely graphic - and sometimes darkly humourous - descriptions of the carnage a high-velocity slug can produce.

#2: Operation Overkill
"Man, I'd have to be a hermaphrodite to do that," Luther grinned - and put a couple of slugs into St. Clair's head, opening his skull like an overripe peach.
#3: The Psychotron Plot
Trying to draw a bean on Camellion with a pistol that resembled a German Luger, the Egyptian bodyguard looked incredibly alarmed when a couple of the Death Merchant's slugs burst his head like an orange that had been stepped on. Instantly, he found himself in the Mohammedan version of heaven, ogling the virgin Houris and wondering how in hell he had gotten there!
#5: Satan Strike
His best wasn't good enough! The Comité tried, failed and died when a .357 slug parted his Adam's apple like a pear split down the middle!
#6: The Albanian Connection
The Death Merchant's first two slugs knifed into the white-coated morons to his left. One slug opened its victim's head like a tomato hit with a ten-pound sledge hammer, while the second caught its man in his open mouth, blowing out the back of his throat and neck.
#7: The Castro File
He was about to make a success of the yell when he flopped over dead from the three slugs which had crushed his skull like a rotten tomato, exposing the convoluted windings of his brain ... some pink, others grayish blue.

There were no screams, but bone, blood, teeth, and bits of brains exploded with all the force of a rotten watermelon dropped from the top of the Empire State Building!

His face twisting in panic, the KGB agent raised up, just as another tornado of slugs hit the windshield, this time shattering it, several of the slugs blowing the driver's head apart, like a melon hit with a bust of shotgun pellets!
#8: Billionaire Mission
The stream of hot metal flowed all over Captain Weidamier, bursting him open like a watermelon that has lain too long in the boiling sun ... Yumio Nama followed a moment later. Cursing in Japanese, Yum-Yum lifted the Ar-16 rifle with amazing speed and snapped off two shots at Camellion, who jumped sideways and triggered the .45 M-3, the shower of slugs raining all over the Jap jackass, turning him into instant sukiyaki, but without the chicken and vegetables.
#9: The Laser War
The third man caught the third slug in his forehead, the steel opening up his skull and splitting his brain the way an axe would cleave a melon!
#11: Manhattan Wipeout
He blinked, look surprised, and fell on his back, his eyes wide open, a hole the size of a bean in the middle of his forehead. The back of his head resembled a burst pomegranate ...
#12: The KGB Frame
Dyudin's head exploded from the impact of the Super-Vel .357 slug that split open his skull like a watermelon kicked by an angry mule.
#13: The Mato Grosso Horror
Walther submachine guns roared! A 9mm slug caught Stein in the left hip. Five more hit him in the stomach and almost cut him in two! Three more opened up his chest and split his skull the way a macana would chop apart a kisva melon!
#14: Vengeance of the Golden Hawk
Kaouki died faceless and brainless. The Death Merchant's chain of 7.65mm slugs exploded his head, which flew apart like a rotten melon.
#15: The Iron Swastika Plot
The Death Merchant checked the luminous dials of his depth gauge - 492 feet. The E.P.E. and I.P.E. were working perfectly - Or I'd be dead! Crushed to death by water pressure - like an orange in a vice!
#17: The Zemlya Expedition
Bogaty's 7.62 mm slug burned very close to Camellion, but the big Russian didn't get a second chance to ice Camellion. His skull popped open like an overripe orange as Richard's two 9mm pieces of steel stabbed into his forehead and scattered his think-tank in assorted directions.
#19: Armageddon, USA!
Knowing that Kane's next smash would shatter his skill like an already cracked eggshell, Boggs pulled the Auto Burglar from underneath his coat ... The 20-gauge shell exploded, the weapon whoomed, and the charge blew a hole in Kane's midsection the size of a grapefruit.

One man caught several slugs in the face; the high-velocity steel erased his features, popped apart his skull like a cucumber hit by a sledge hammer and scattered his brain within a radius of two feet ...

McAulay's second P-38 Walther slug caught Teague far down in the left side of the neck, almost to the collarbone. Ordinarily a man so full of energy that he could hardly sit still, Teague dropped his two S&W automatics, his face looking as if his neck were trying to blow bubblegum!
#20: Hell in Hindu Land
Thinking that the coast was clear, Gitanjali shouted, "DON'T FIRE, MADHU! I'M COMING TOWARD YOU!" and began running toward the end of the cube, at the same moment that Suslev leaned around the right end of the parallelogram and stitched Dutt with a burst of 7.62mm slugs that splattered Madhu like a squashed melon against the side of the cube.

There was a big wooommmmm! A .44 JMP bullet hit Bublik between the eyes and exploded his skull the way a stick of dynamite would blow apart a head of cabbage!
#21: The Pole Star Secret
At the sight of the Death Merchant, two of the Russians stared at him as if petrified while the woman yelled "There are -" into the phone a fraction of a second before a .44 Jurras Hollow Pointed bullet bored into her temple and exploded her head like an overly ripe watermelon.

Neither man had a chance to fire. There were more tremendous BOOMs from the twin Auto Mags and two thudding sounds as though someone had hit a melon with a hammer. Camellion had split open the two skulls of the Russians, scattering their brains and head bones all over the place. Definitely an untidy mess!
#24: The Kronos Plot
The weapon sounded like a hand grenade; yet because of the Mag-Na-Ported barrel, there was very little muzzle climb and no loss in muzzle velocity. Proof was the man in the doorway. Very suddenly he was without a head. The .44 Magnum jacketed soft-point projectile had exploded his skull like a grapefruit hit by a blast from a double-barreled shotgun.

A stupid look fell over the German's face. The .44 Magnum projectile blew a hole in his chest the size of a grapefruit, tore out his back, and ripped all the way through six sacks of what could have been some of A&P's best coffee.
#25: The Enigma Project
Again the AMP in the Death Merchant's hand boomed like a cannon. There was a sickening plop, the kind of sound that resembled a sledgehammer hitting the side of a pumpkin. The man trying to raise the automatic rifle was suddenly without a face and without a rifle.

Borodin tensed, his ruddy face, harsh and furrowed, becoming hard when Camellion said, "Now, pig farmer, we are going to have a truth and tell-all session." The Russian's face seemed to swell, as though it might burst like an overripe tomato.
#26: The Mexican Hit
Unconscious from the terrific impact of the bullet, the ugly-faced mobster dropped the .41, fell against one of the stateroom doors and sagged to the floor. With a hole in him the size of a grapefruit, Catura was only a few seconds from infinity.
#28: Nipponese Nightmare
Domei Mutsu was a man of courage welcoming his own death. He did make a feeble attempt to grab Brown's throat with a herbasami inside-ridge-hand squeeze, but Brown stepped back, jerked heavily on Mutsu's left arm, and, with his left foot, kicked the man between the legs, the end of his foot crushing the scrotum the way a sledge hammer would flatten a walnut.
#34: Operation Mind-Murder
One of the Death Merchant's Auto Mags roared and the head of the KGB man exploded with the kind of sound a hammer makes when it hits a watermelon.
#37: The Bermuda Triangle Action
In a low crouch, the Death Merchant fired the AMP and the Ingram. A swarm of 9mm Ingram projectiles erased Jose Matar's face and popped open his skull like a lemon hit by a blast from a double-barrelled shotgun.


laura k said...

You're obsessed, aren't you? :)

allan said...

Just a tad.

larry said...

Thank you for your service. I have tried mightily to read the entire Death Merchant series several times. I usually made it to no. 20 or so and then gave up. Nice to see that other than a different reason for killing 'pig farmers', 'sand crabs', and other insulting stereotypes, there isn't much difference in the ones I never read.

allan said...

Just got #1 in Rosenberger's "Murder Master" series. (Looks like it is basically a black Death Merchant. JRR wrote 3 volumes in 1973-74.) Anyway, I look on the inside cover, where Manor had put some enticing text, and I read: "The Browning cracked, the button man's head exploded like an overly-ripe tomato, as the 9 mm slug blew bone, blood and brain in all possible directions".

laura k said...

Stephen King fans may be growing impatient.

allan said...

Stephen King fans may be growing impatient.

I may have to simply give up on Dark Tower VII and move on.

allan said...

there isn't much difference in the ones I never read

The first 15 or so are pretty goofy - with more Rosenbergerisms (for lack of a better word) than the later ones. I don't really know how the genre changed from the early 70s to the early 80s, but I assume he followed whatever trends there were (including more gun porn, etc.)