Friday, August 21, 2015

Death Merchant #53: The Judas Scrolls

A British archaeologist discovers twenty-seven ancient scrolls in the west Bank of Jordan. The scrolls, written by none other than Judas Iscariot, contain information so devastating it could bring the Vatican to its knees.

Then the Palestine Resistance League steals the valuable scrolls and offers them to the highest bidder - Russia or the Vatican. Price: $30 million. But then the scrolls are stolen again.

This deadly game of hide and seek could undermine the entire Christian world. Only the Death Merchant, master of cunning and disguise, can stop it. He must penetrate the enemy dragnet and find the scrolls before the Russians do. But now the hard part - even Camellion's not so sure he can get out of this death trap alive.


***
Twenty-seven ancient scrolls have been discovered underneath the floor of a ruined temple near Mount Hebron by a British archeologist. It turns out that these scrolls were written by Judas Iscariot and as the back of this book says, the information they contain "could undermine the entire Christian world" and "bring the Vatican to its knees". But how can the scrolls be smuggled out of Israel?

Author Joseph Rosenberger lays out a somewhat complicated backstory that includes the scrolls being stolen by members of the Palestinian Resistance League and offered to either the Vatican or the KGB for $30 million, and then eventually hidden in a cave in the Arqā Mountains. Rosenberger explains the backstory of the scrolls, which state, among other things, that Jesus survived his ordeal on the cross (being a master yogi, he was able to "turn off" the pain) and lived to the age of either 51 or 64 - depending on where in the book you are reading.

Once again, I am amazed at the lengthy digressions that Rosenberger adds to his action narrative. I don't know that much about the men's adventure genre, but I'm assuming that no other writer did this kind of thing and certainly not to the extent Rosenberger did. His asides usually fall into one of two categories: philosophical/mystical or racial/social.

As the expedition team is assembled, Richard "Death Merchant" Camellion jokes, "Welcome aboard, Follmer. I hope you can get used to A-rabs. You're going to see plenty of sand crabs before this deal is over and done with." And in a blink of an eye, the narrative veers off into a long segment of right-wing racism and paranoia.
Follmer, who had walked over to the liquor and was pouring another vodka, said, "Almost anything would be better than the mess back in the States. I don't have to tell you about the race policy of the current crop of idiots in D.C. You know how we're being invaded by aliens. For example, 80 percent of the babies born in Los Angeles County hospitals in 1981 were to illegal aliens, to illegal immigrant mothers, almost all of them from Mexico—and all their medical expenses were paid by taxpayers."

Kelly Dillard laughed sinisterly. "Why you shouldn't talk like that!" he chided. "After all, the nonwhite trash mean more votes for the politicians, more money for businessmen, more souls for the two-faced clergy, and more opportunities for the goddamn race mixers to destroy America's white heritage."

"Ordinarily, I'm a fair-minded person," Phil LaHann said thoughtfully. "I must agree with you. We can see what the nonwhite morons have already done to the American educational system. The lowering of scholastic and disciplinary standards in order to accommodate the huge influx of black and Chicano students into previously all-white schools has resulted in one big mess. Whites are learning less, while the coons and spics are learning nothing, which is normal enough. But no one should be surprised that white students do not learn in a school system that sees more than 5,000 of its teachers assaulted each month. What a joke! One might as well try to 'educate' apes!"

The Death Merchant, who seldom involved himself in useless discussions, felt like saying Folks! You ain't seen nothin' yet! Knowing world history as he did, Camellion was only too aware of the road the United States was taking—For the federal government, for America's teeming nonwhite minorities, and even for a very substantial portion of the white majority, the choice is clear: they will continue straight ahead—

And into oblivion!

They will continue to clamor for more racial mixing in the schools, in residential neighborhoods, and on the job. They will continue to allow millions of nonwhite aliens to pour across the U.S. borders from Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Orient; and the U.S. economy and the standard of living will grow steadily worse. They will continue to push for more handouts for those who will not work, more indulgences for the least productive elements of society, more of the same permissiveness and lack of discipline that have helped bring on present problems.

The massive influx of aliens is rapidly transforming the character of America's population and the appearance of its cities. The principal beachheads of the foreign swarms—New York City and its environs, Florida, southern Texas, and California—are in the process of acquiring nonwhite majorities. The intruders—with the morals of camels—are taking over entire neighborhoods that once were home to native Americans of European stock.

It will end in a race war. The nonwhites will lose. They have neither the intelligence nor the firepower to win.
First of all, it's hilarious to read that the Death Merchant doesn't get involved in these political/social "discussions". In truth, he's often leading them! It's also interesting that Rosenberger, who regularly uses footnotes to back up various bits of arcane information, presents no citations here.

This is merely the first of several racist polemics found throughout The Judas Scrolls. While Rosenberger has always included this type of material in his books, there are more of them in this volume than I can recall reading in any earlier DM book. And the rants are longer and seem more serious, angrier. Long gone is any trace of the goofiness that used to characterize Rosenberger's rants.

Only five pages after this section, Rosenberger shows off another authorial quirk, writing a 12-page conversation between Camellion and two Jesuit priests who are accompanying the search for the scrolls. Earlier books have had off-topic philosophical discussions but nothing of this length and breadth. Rosenberger mentions the Shroud of Turin, the supposed ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah, Nostradamus, the Essenes, Giovanni Pettinato, the Santorin volcano, the thoughts of Plato in his dialogues Timaeus and Critias, Saint John Bosco, etc.

During this discussion, Camellion points out that "a new glacial age has begun":
Camellion proceeded to explain that the experts' alarming forecast was based on a number of incredible factors:

—The sun is shrinking at a rapid rate—much faster than scientists have predicted over the years. Already, over the past 400 years, the sun has lost a total area equivalent to that of 80,000 earths!

—The temperature of the earth is falling. A drop of only 4.9 degrees would result in the same freezing temperatures as those of the last Great Ice Age.

—The growing season is the food-producing temperate zones has shortened by three weeks in the past forty years.

Sizzling summers and vicious winters have killed more than 1,000 people during 1981 in the United States alone, and there are not any signs that the freakish weather will subside over the next decade.

—Shifts in the position of the sun, Earth and the other planets will change terrestrial climate dramatically. The result will be a new Ice Age. Colossal cold will creep throughout the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres, killing off agriculture altogether in many areas and severely reducing food production in others. Result: a worldwide famine. ...

"I'm thinking of a similar prediction," said Father Norton, "made by Johann Friede, a thirteenth-century Austrian monk. He said that toward the end of the world, mankind will face its last, hard trial. That the end would be foreshadowed by striking changes in nature, that the alternation between heat and cold will become more intense. He said storms will have more catastrophic effects. Earthquakes will destroy many lands and the seas will overflow into many lowlands."

LaHann said easily, "I'd be safe in saying that we can find clues to these troublesome times to come in a study of the zodiac. History—"

"Astrology is superstitious claptrap!" Father Gatdula said flatly.

"History and legend show an analogy between the archetypal temperaments of man and the twelve signs of the zodiac. A lot of historians feel it is these analogous relationships which underlie the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve apostles of Christ, the twelve nights [sic] of King Arthur's Round Table, and the twelve labors of Hercules."
I can't help but wonder what Rosenberger, who died in 1993, would have thought of climate change and global warming. Also, Rosenberger has mentioned the recurring number of 12 in previous books, so I wonder how much of that he actually believed.

At one point, someone mentions how nice the United States government is to Israel:
"They're right about our being 'nice' to everyone," [Follmer] said in an unpleasant voice, his eyes raking Camellion. "Look how 'nice' we've been to the blacks. Since World War II, we've made fools of ourselves by restructuring our entire society in a stupid attempt to uphold the myth that we're all 'equal.' We've handed billions to those brillo heads to finance their idle ghetto loungings—and look at the result. Our streets and parks have been turned over to black punks, and then they plea-bargain and are turned loose on early parole so they can prey on us again. We've handcuffed our policemen, lest they make the slightest infringement of blacks' rights. We've forced our kids to go to school with those moron asses, and we've rubbed our kids' nose in lies about white guilt. And when none of it has worked, when the blacks remain as far as ever from 'equality' but are ten thousand times more surly, we bow our heads, go into a white Step'n' Fetchit act, and humbly beg their forgiveness—and give them still more. Yeah, we're 'nice' people. We're unrealistic idiots!"

"Oh, we're suckers in other ways too," Dillard said. "It's not just the jungle jigs we're 'nice' to. We've let millions of aliens swarm into the States and deprive our people of jobs. Spics, those gooks from Vietnam—you name it! We let 'em come in. The only Orientals who have any intelligence and culture are the Japanese—and they have too much sense to want to live in the United States."

While the Death Merchant totally disagreed with Follmer and Dillard, he was not putting on an act when he got in his six-and-a-half cents' worth.

"You're forgetting the traitors in our midst," he ground out. "All the scum who ran off to Canada; and when mobs of demonstrators—during the Vietnam years—paraded in the streets behind the banners of the Vietcong and spattered our nation's flag with filth and dragged it in the gutter, the police had to stand by and be careful not to violate the 'civil rights' of the scum. Later, the Washington, D.C., idiots welcomed home with open arms and forgiveness the thousands of traitors and deserters."

"They should have been shot," growled LaHann.

"Wrong!" snapped Camellion. "They should have strangled slowly with piano wire. There's nothing lower on this earth and in any society than a yellow belly who deserts his country."
Elsewhere, Dillard and Camellion have a talk about President Ronald Reagan and how someone should murder Senator Ted Kennedy (... but but but I thought the DM avoided such "useless discussions").

In two footnotes, Rosenberger describes Haitians as "murderous savages lacking in both conscience and morals" and Cubans as drug dealers responsible for the high murder rate in Dade County, Florida. Elsewhere, Rosenberger writes: "Like African blacks, Arabs are prone to become utterly bloodthirsty and sadistic during battle and to revert to instincts far lower than those in so-called animals. Controlled by such insanity, an Arab, or a black, will commit any murderous act. No atrocity is too cruel."

On the next-to-last page of the book, Camellion thinks to himself:
The United States was being flooded by an alien invasion from Southeast Asia, India, Burma, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Maylasia, Israel, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Mexico. U.S. Education Commissioner Ernest Boyer had revealed during the winter of 1982 that only 28 percent of Americans eighteen and younger are Anglo, while 36 percent are black and 41 percent Hispanic. Only 39 percent of Anglo families have children in school, against 61 percent of Hispanic families who have children in public schools. It was only a matter of time before white Americans would be a minority in what was their land. Already the nation's schools were becoming obsolete and the United States was becoming a nation of undereducated citizens. Another fact was clear: if the taxable incomes of the rapidly increasing minority groups did not keep pace with their growth in numbers, the whites would either be taxed to death or the entire system would collapse—The latter is more likely because the white people are not going to take it. There's a lot of truth in what Bob Follmer says. One can look at the problem in terms of a diminishing upper and middle class having to support a lower class of ignorant, lazy trash. Right now there are more El Salvadorians as illegal aliens in Los Angeles than the total population of San Salvador! But the trash have a technique—any person who gives the facts is called a racist.
So regarding Follmer's views on immigration: Camellion is "more than a little disgusted" on page 71, "totally disagreed" with him on page 78, but admits on page 198 that "there's a lot of truth" in what he says. I don't think Camellion had a racist epiphany; it seems more likely that Rosenberger couldn't keep straight what he had written earlier in the book.

Interestingly, at one point, the Death Merchant defends poor blacks:
More than a little disgusted over Follmer's racism, Camellion sank to a chair and said in a cold voice, "You might have a different opinion if your skin were black. Consider for a moment what's happened recently. The rich got big tax breaks, but poor people—black and white—lost jobs, food assistance, training opportunities, and a lot more. As for the blacks—they exist in a cocoon of poverty and defeatism that's been handed down, from generation to generation, like some deadly inherited disease. The entire pathetic mess has congealed into a Lumpenproletariat of female-headed families, jobless men, and bitter young people. In short, my friend, don't profess to know all about another people until you've walked for a while in their moccasins."
However, the only footnotes included in this section offer validation for the racists' comments:
3 The FBI's Uniform Crime Report reveals that blacks commit violent crimes 8.5 times as often as whites, relative to their numbers in the overall U.S. population. Blacks are 7.2 times as likely to commit rape, 11.2 times as likely to commit murder, and 14.1 times as likely to commit robbery. Violent black crime is typically spontaneous rather than planned and reflects a general lack of inhibition and foresight.

4 In a newly published study, "Black-White Contacts in Schools: Its Social and Academic Effect," Purdue University sociologist Martin Patchen concludes: "Available evidence indicates that interracial contacts in schools does not have consistent positive effects on students' racial attitudes and behavior or on the academic performance of minority students." Italics mine—JRR.
Similarly, Camellion tells one member of his force to calm his hatred. "The Israelis are neither good nor bad. They're only 'the Other Side.'" Of course, that bit of advice comes only two pages after Rosenberger writes "the Death Merchant was still wanting to strangle—very slowly—every sand crab in Araby-land".

Rosenberger offers some extremely purple prose when it comes to describing Jabal Arqā:
The minutes raced by and all twelve of the birds were soon over the Jabal Arqā. In actuality, they were flying over the lower foothills of the actual mountains that were, in spite of their lack of height, jagged for forbidding, as though they were ill-omened tombstones in a disguised necropolis of hate. ...

Very suddenly he felt the cold, insidious evil of the Jabal Arqā, of these ancient mountains sick with spiritual putrescence. He could hear in his mind the shouted blasphemies in sixty different dialects from men who, over the long crawl of centuries, had fought and killed each other for possession of this barren real estate. Within their silent sobs and shouts, 10 million ghosts gave off a stench far more terrible than all the sins that humanity could commit, all the bitter maledictions thunderously denounced by holy men who lived in ape ignorance.

These mountains were actually crypts; and nothing, not even the breath of God Almighty could erase the blood that had flowed over the rocks and down through titanic arcades. Shapes of Hell howled and laughed and strode monstrously within the valleys, flitted across the face of the cliffs, and danced in mockery on the high peaks. The Cosmic Lord of Death had reigned supreme here, and nothing faintly holy would ever dare approach his kingdom. He still reigned within the mighty rocks and still held unhallowed rites with minions of the doomed, with incubi and succubi. There they were, all gathered in hideous abomination—Moloch and Beelzebub, swollen toads and ten-headed Moon calves—all singing the ghastly glories of eternal damnation.
And ... we get some nutty Camellion stream-of-consciousness:
This whole damn business is similar to abstract art—a product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered. But Grojean does have talent for intrigue. Ha! We're still the unprincipled, and the Jordies are more than bewildered! They're angry and afraid. Join the club, boys. So am I. ...

Parrot poop! We can't turn back. Let's hope none of these Jordanians get crazy-brave or stupid-foolish. What the hell! This still beats being in L.A. or New York City, where rats crawl over babies and all civilization has stopped. Crazy-brave? I don't think they will! ...

God Save the White Sox and damn the Mohawks if there are any left! ...

Yeah! And tuna fish is up 60 percent! Holy mackerel!
There is the inevitable martial arts segment in the climatic battle:
An expert, in thanatology, Camellion was no longer concerned about the gasping, gagging, choking Luvirol as he spun and concurrently used a double-handed Gedan barai to stop the leg of Gideon Alal Padon, who was trying to ace him out with a Mawashi geri roundhouse kick, and let fly a Mae geri kekomi that caught Josef Gann (who was also a secret Mossad agent) in the solar plexus, the vicious slam paralyzing Gann's central nervous system and almost making his eyes pop out of his head.

Padon was not as easy to terminate. Camellion barely managed to block a right Shuto knife hand aimed at his left temple and a Yon bon nukite four-finger spear thrust directed at his lower chest. He countered with a Tsuma-saki tip-of-toes kick, aimed at the testicles, combined with a right Herabasami inside-ridge-hand feint that was coupled with a left Yubi basami knuckle-fingertip strike that wanted the center of Padon's throat. Padon wasn't fooled. He made Camellion fail by using a Sukui uke scooping block. He then twisted and tried a right Ushiro kekomi geri rear thrust kick. Fatal mistake! Camellion stepped aside, snarled, "Geharget zolstu veren!" grabbed Padon's right ankle, and twisted as hard as he could to the left, Padon yelling in pain and anger as Camellion flipped him over and he fell heavily on his stomach, the fall knocking the wind out of him. He didn't have the time or the strength to jerk away. And he was in agony from his twisted leg, the pain shooting through his hip.

The Death Merchant released the leg, kicked Padon savagely in the left side of the rib cage, the slam breaking four ribs and bringing another howl of pain from the Israeli commando.

Victory! Camellion jumped high and came down on Padon's back, the heel of his left foot smashing into the Israeli's neck, his right foot slamming into the small of the back. There was a sound like two sticks being snapped. Padon shuddered and lay still.
Rosenberger translates "Geharget zolstu veren" as "Drop dead", literally "You should be killed". (However, a website translates this Yiddish phrase as "You should get killed.")

Finally, one dope no longer has to worry about his speech impediment:
Shuberinski had thrust his arm and hand inward for the stab he thought would end the life of Majid. Jumping back slightly, Majid had promptly brought down the heavy blade of the bi'rang and cut off Shuberinski's right hand. Only for a flashing second was the horrified Israeli able to witness the gush of blood pumping from his right wrist. He then felt the hidious pain—but again only for a moment—as Captain Majid slid the bloody blade of the bi'rang into his stomach and ripped upward. Never again would Shuberinski have to worry about his stuttering. H-H-He w-a-sss de-de-de-de-dead and si-si-si-si-sink-inggg into e-eter-nity.
Etc.:

Rosenberger lived in Arizona in the early 1980s and he includes two mentions of the area: "Nuts to that joker. If I didn't know better, I'd think he was an ex-member of the New York City—or Mesa, Arizona—Police Department!" and "This is almost as bad as going into a bar in Phoenix on a Saturday night!"

"The policeman went down in death faster than an Appalachian moonshiner running from an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent."

"As careful as a cow chewing a cud of cactus, he jumped from the starboard opening and started to move toward the nose."

"Belief in a god never requires logic, only superstition and a desperateness against the obvious, against oblivion. That kind of madness is called 'faith.'"

"Dillard, Follmer, and LaHann, having expected the worst kind of trouble (short of having hemorrhoids in Sydney, Australia) were not caught with their reflexes and attention span napping."

"[The Death Merchant] let fly a deadly right-legged Tae Kwon Do Hyung Chungdan Ap Chagi middle front snap kick that made the astonished Markek think he had run into an invisible steel wall."

"A holy man he was, but Allah didn't prevent a big 20mm projectile from opening up his chest the way a blast from a shotgun shatters a watermelon."

3 comments:

horrox said...

I begin to wonder of Donald Trump is a Death Merchant fan...

allan said...

^^^ Heh.

Sorry about obsessing on this one aspect of the books for the past few posts, but it really fascinates me. I guess Pinnacle knew that stuff would go over well with the books' main audience, because what editor would allow so much of that irrelevant speechmaking into what should be a fast-paced action-adventure book? And what writer would think to include so much of it, presented in such a formal manner, complete with footnotes to various academic papers and studies? The crafty, wily Rosenberger, that's who!

Kurt Reichenbaugh said...

I have this one and about 9 other Death Merchant novels. I'm looking forward to reading it eventually. The last one I read was Invasion of the Clones which I enjoyed somewhat. This one interested me just for the premise.