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DAVID LIPPINCOTT
The Voice of Armegeddon


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Panther, London, 1976
(price: 75p; 224 pages)
first published in 1974


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.'
That was how Lars Colonius started his journal. Then he went and bought a Brownie camera, a Wollensak tape recorder, a splicing board, a fishing vest and some plastic explosive. That was all he needed to hold the world to ransom...
Compelling, shocking, ingenious and with a pace that never flags
The Voice of Armageddon will keep you guessing until the final devastating chapter.
'Once you start this book, you will be hooked' -
New York Times
'Suspense at its most undiluted' - C. P. Snow,
Financial Times
'A brilliantly plotted cliff-hanger' -
Daily Telegraph


opening lines:
Lars Colonius stood waiting bareheaded in the sun, on the edge of the crowd outside the All-Rite Shopping Center, off US 75 into Macon.


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:

You know, if they'd had to live in my time. Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers would still be running bicycle shops, Thomas Edison selling newspapers, and Marconi, I guess, working in a barbershop. Because the way things are these days, there's no room left for the brilliant oddball, the aggressive loner, or the self-taught genius. And those guys would've been just as unsuccessful and unknown as I am. (p.140)

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.


ARTISTIC MERIT: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
5/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
3/5


Another terrorist novel? Why not?

Peter Dunant, Exterminating Angels
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