The Spear by James Herbert (1978)
Harry Steadman, formerly of the British military intelligence and more recently an agent for Mossad, is now a partner in a successful London detective agency, having left the spy guy game several bloody months after his lover had been killed. He left bathed in blood and vowing never to return. So when a Mossad agent attempts to hire Harry to investigate a wealthy arms manufacturer, Harry turns him down flat, even after he learns his former lover's brother has gone missing while investigating the same person. His agency made its reputation on taking any case -- no matter how big or how small and while Harry is away for a week on another assignment, his partner decides to take the case. The night he returns there is a pounding on his door. He opens it to discover his dying partner: her tongue had been torn out and she had been nailed to the door.
In an adventure reminiscent of James Bond, Harry then thrusts himself into the case and soon discovers a neo-Nazi cult that worships Heinrich Himmler and a plot to bring the world to war that involves the Spear of Longinus -- the legendary weapon that pierced the side of Jesus.
Real-world and supernatural horror combine in this fast paced tale of ambition, power, and the supernatural. I had a hard time putting the book down, despite several glaring plot holes. I mentioned the James Bond-like feeling of the novel; the last few chapters add a Indiana Jones-like aspect to this thriller. (Note that The Spear was published three years before the first Indiana Jones film was released.) These two iconic characters come to mind because The Spear is written as though it were a movie -- not a coincidence, I suspect. This was was the fifth novel Herbert had published and two of the earlier four were about to be filmed.
In a career that lasted more than 35 years, Herbert published 25 best-selling novels, in addition to one graphic novel, two nonfiction books, and a handful of short stories. Certainly not the greatest writer around, he had the power to grab the reader by the throat and propel him into his intensely readable books. This visceral ability allows the reader to suspend belief and enjoy the ride.
And enjoy it I did. Recommended.
Read this one back in the '70s and liked it a lot. Never read much more of Herbert's work, though.ReplyDelete
Kinda sorta the UK John Saul or Koontz, in a sense...ReplyDelete