BOOK REVIEW – JAMES HERBERT – THE SPEAR. 1978 Mayflower
The Spear Of Destiny is something of a horror story chestnut. A sacred but cursed relic spear from antiquity that was genuinely sought after by the Nazis now becomes, in the present day, an occult means to resurrect Heinrich Himmler from the dead.
For much of the story, the horror story aspects are kept low key and the book reads like a fast moving thriller with its hero, Steadman, investigating the mysterious disappearance of an Israeli Mossad Agent finds himself pursued by neo-nazis. There is a terrifyingly good description of them trying to drive a tank over his little motorcar to crush him inside it.
The Spear is just a McGugffin, a plot devise on which the story and action sequences hang like a hook. It’s certainly fun to read. At times it reads too much like a film script, which is possibly what Herbert hoped, thinking of a movie adaptation that has yet to occur. It carries lots of preposterous dramatic last minute escapes. It would make a fun film in the Indiana Jones tradition.
Later, the story gets more far fetched. The Nazis have a mansion in which the resurrection of Himmler is to take place, and they have an old Jewish captive there, enslaved and maddened.
As the zombie Himmler (shame it couldn’t be Hitler himself) rises up, in very graphic depiction, intent on starting World War Three with a missile, the Jewish prisoner rescues the hero and destroys the missile in its silo by suicidally crashing a helicopter into it, sending the zombie and the neo-nazis to a fiery doom.
This is a fun read, though it gets clichéd and almost cartoon like by its finale – it works better as an action drama thriller than as horror, though it marks a departure for Herbert from his earlier death per page tales like The Rats & The Fog.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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