Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Under the Radar: David Morrell

“David Who?” My friend asked.

“Morrell,” I answered. “How can you love thriller fiction and not know who David Morrell is. He’s like the 
...” I think I began spluttering at this point and couldn’t come up with a suitable comparison.

“First Blood,’ I eventually managed to say. “He’s the guy who wrote First Blood.”

I was rewarded with a stare into the distance, some memory gazing and then, “Nope. Don’t know him.”

“Rambo,” I gave him the most obvious clue I could think of.

“Riiiight,” he stuck his lower lip out like a shelf. I resisted the urge to grab it and yank him over towards my bookcase. “So, Rambo wasn’t Stallone’s creation?”

“Haw, fannybaws,” I said. “Call yourself a booklover?”

“I cannae possibly know every feckin’ writer in the world,” he holds his hands out by his side.

‘But he’s David Morrell. He’s ...”

Anywho, enough of my fascinating dialogue with my bookloving chump of a friend. For anyone reading this who is also going, David Who ... David Morrell published First Blood in 1972 (the movie Rambo was released in 1982) and has gone on to publish a further 28 novels (according to Wikipedia). He’s quite simply a fantastic writer, who is still producing quality work all these years later.

So, this kinda ticked me off on a couple of levels. First, how can someone this good stay under my friend’s reading radar – given some of the sub-standard stuff I know he reads (I’m not going to name names. OK, James Patterson. There. I said it. I’ll now hang my head in shame.) And second, the movie gets all the awareness while the source material gets ignored. This REALLY pisses me off.

Anyway - - back to David Morrell... he was the first writer I developed a fan-crush on. He has been called the father of the modern action thriller and is quite simply THE master of intrigue and tension. His books are hugely entertaining and “hypnotically readable” (borrowed that wee quote from Stephen King). If you enjoy this kind of novel and you haven’t read him, then you really must do yourself a favour and buy (or borrow from your local library) one of his books.

You can also approach him on facebook to become one of his FB buds. He is very active on that forum and often posts informative and thought-provoking comments on movies and books.

What about you? Are there any masters flying under the radar that you’d want to champion?


  1. I'm with you, Mike. David Morrell IS the father of the modern action thriller. His Brotherhood of the Rose trilogy were huge influences on my desire to write in the same genre.

  2. Remember reading First Blood at 16 and loving it. Never read any of his other stuff though. I know the feeling when you have a favourite author you feel is underrated. I used to feel that way about Neil Gaiman. He's more high-profile now, although people still occasionally go, "Neil who?"

  3. At last, one of your recommendations I've already read. Not only that, I go along with everything you say about him. I loved First Blood, didn't see the movie for maybe obvious reasons (such as Stallone) and (confession time), without wishing in any way to imply a comparison, part of the reason why I wrote The Darkness was to satisfy an itch caused by the ending of First Blood.

  4. Matt - good to hear from you. I think that series is quite possibly my favourites of DM's work.

    Derek - Neil Gaiman is someone I keep meaning to try. Where would you recommend I start?

    Bill - delighted you scratched that itch!

  5. yep, unlike your friend, I did hear about him, he is a classic writer in his genre. Off course, I don't read that particular genre :)

  6. Yep, I've read a couple of his, not First Blood funnily enough.

    Steve Mosby is a brilliant under the radar author, he writes rather disturbing crime fiction.

  7. Ach, Dez, no need to slap yourself. Unless of course you do it on camera and post it on youtube.

    Ricky, Mosby is someone I've not tried. Do you have a favourite or one you suggest I start with?

  8. I'd go with Still Bleeding as it's very unusual but Cry For Help and The 50/50 Killer are great too. I'm reading his latest, Black Flowers, at the moment. There is a Steve Mosby label over at my blog with a review of Still Bleeding. Let me know what you think if you do get round to it.

  9. Well done on bringing the author to light, Michael. Shamefully, I'd only heard of the films.

    I can't think of any specific examples at the moment, but I've been hugely annoyed a few times when watching a TV drama or film of a book and not seeing the writer mentioned.

  10. You and me both, Rosemary. Sad fact is that the writer is not "visual" enough and therefore not sexy enough for the media to bother with.