The Voice of Armegeddon
The blurb on the back:
'The trouble with assassination is that most of the interest and sympathy goes to the victim, while the assassin winds up a mere footnote to history. I had to do better than that.'
Forgetting for a moment the content of the story, the destruction of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 was one of the greatest moments in TV history. Whether by accident or design, the terrorists exploited the Westís greatest failing Ė its addiction to television Ė to devastating advantage. Not that they were the first to consider such a possibility: it was a theme that had been explored in Martin Scorseseís finest movie, The King of Comedy (1983) and in this fantastic early novel by thriller-writer David Lippincott.
Our hero is the archetypal lone terrorist, the kind of person who would inspire books by Colin Wilson, an intelligent, lower-middle-class young man feeling frustrated by societyís refusal to accord him the status he feels he deserves. As he points out in one of the extracts from his journal that pepper the book:
So he sets out to make the world pay attention, and to get his revenge. At which point he comes up against a security task-force, who find themselves confronted with the ultimate nightmare for an information-driven society: ĎWe donít know who he is, where he is, who he plans to kill, or why.í (p.42) The authorities are sufficiently astute, however, to appoint a psychologist as the head of their team, and thus start a duel between the two men: the doctor and the paranoid-schizophrenic, with the clock counting down to the moment of violence and revelation.
Itís tremendous stuff, genuinely gripping (I really did read it at one sitting) and even more potent as the years pass than it was back in the mid-1970s. I canít for the life of me see why this wasnít made into a movie, but itís not too late by any means. The theme is still relevant and the conflict between the two men pre-figures all that Hannibal Lecter nonsense in a much more convincing manner.
If Iím not giving away too much about what the Armageddon project is, then thatís because the novel doesnít either until a long way through. And I really donít want to spoil this one. You should read it yourself.
Oh, and I'm dead pleased that there's a minor character called Alwyn. You don't often get that in novels. Admittedly she's a woman, but I'll take what I can get.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 5/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 3/5
Peter Dunant, Exterminating Angels