#86 – Fallen Angel, Michael Avallone BOOK REVIEW

October 7, 2018

I’ll admit that in my advancing age I’m starting to struggle with horror and gore. When I was a kid I really didn’t give a shit. Friday 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street…. fuck it, even vile slasher shit like Maniac… bring it on! In contrast, about ten years ago I was watching one of the SAW sequels [1] and I found it all so pointlessly bloodthirsty.

Maniac movie

It might scare YOU, but I wasn’t the slightest bit worried

Who can enjoy this sadistic filth? I asked myself. Evidently large numbers did, as the eight movies made a combined worldwide gross of almost $1 billion, on a combined budget of just $77m, with not one of them grossing less than six times its budget. Consider the similarly-sadistic Hostel series was also a smash hit and that makes a lot of very sick individuals going to the cinema.

But then again, when I was fifteen years old I was watching Cannibal Holocaust and The Beast In Heat, and I turned out to be a very stable genius didn’t I?

Thinking about my decreased appetite for horror and carnage over the years [2] I figured out the key: empathy. What is it that creates empathy and why do I have more of it now than thirty years ago? My pet theory involves mirror neurons and warfare. For the latter, I’ve noticed that all teenagers, deep down, consider themselves to be immortal. It’s well known that young men make the most fearless soldiers and I think this is why. Young men are needed to defend the tribe and thus take extraordinary risks that are illogical should they be concerned only with the safe transmission of their own DNA to the next generation. Thus nature has imbued young men with a delusional sense of immortality (to take risks) and a lack of empathy (to mercilessly destroy enemies). It seems to wear off over age, perhaps as we are meant to transition to raising children or watching over grand-kids.

If you thought that was pseudo-science you won’t like my next leap of logic.

Empathy comes from mirror neurons and most social mammals have them. Simply put, when you notice a fellow mammal experiencing an emotion, your own matching mirror neurons fire to recreate their emotion in your own brain. That’s what empathy is [3]. Mirror neurons are extremely adaptive to higher primates because they support a Theory Of Mind and better allow you to anticipate the actions of others. It’s my conjecture that sociopaths are simply lacking these mirror neurons and that’s why they feel disassociated from others. If you can’t feel another’s pain, you find it easier to attack them.

Fallen Angel

I’m working my way around to it

Now, assuming I’m right about this [4], it presents an additional question of why has my empathy increased as I aged? [5] Is it a natural part of the ageing process, or might it even be a side-effect of the Game and my increased calibration? Could it be that doing thousands of sets and working very hard on calibration has been some kind of neural exercise to strengthen my mirror neurons?

I was watching Better Call Saul last week and in it was a hospital scene that suggests a common therapy for stroke patients is to train up undamaged neurons to take up the tasks formerly done by neurons the stroke has damaged. Could it be Game is a similar therapy? [6] I don’t know. I’m just telling you what was on my mind as I read this book, Fallen Angel, the first in the short The Satan Sleuth series. The book is shit, and I don’t recommend it, therefore spoilers ahead.

I downloaded this onto my kindle based entirely on how retarded the cover is, how interesting the narrative hook (a man hunting down Satanists in revenge), and that it was free on Kindle Unlimited. That’s a powerful trifecta on a Sunday afternoon when I’m sitting in Plato cafe in 25C sunshine with a couple of hours to kill.


I’m behind the left-most pillar, with my feet up

This is the plot:

Phillip St George is a young heir to a billionaire’s fortune who used the opportunity to become a world-renowned explorer, the type of man who “wants to see what is behind the mountain”. He marries a Miss America hottie and she’s waiting at home in his upstate New York chateau while he’s down south investigating the Bermuda Triangle [7]. It’s the normal schlock fiction set-up where every man is devastatingly rich and handsome while every girl has shapely legs and big tits. Escapism.

Things pick up when four Satanists invade the chateau, catch Phillip’s wife, and then ritually sacrifice her. It’s extremely brutal stuff, on a par with SAW or Hostel. They rape her with a crucifix, slash her torso with a knife, saw her limbs off, then finally chop her head off with an axe and strew the body parts around different rooms. Then they run away and hide in a cave. They evade capture during the one-month manhunt. Phillip is none to happy about this so he decides to become The Satan Sleuth, dress as a monk, arm up, and seek revenge. The Count Of Monte Cristo this isn’t. The revenge takes a week to plot and the four Satanists have the good grace to return to the chateau (unwittingly) so Phillip doesn’t even need track them down. He kidnaps one at a time and sets out to break their minds before gruesomely murdering them.

Think of it like Wes Craven’s The Last House On The Left. It’s really rather similar: a quartet of low-life beatniks (three men and a woman) capture a woman, sadistically murder her, then inadvertently stumble into her family, who takes brutal revenge. My guess is the beatnik’s murder in Fallen Angel is inspired by the Charles Manson ‘family’ attack on Sharon Tate only a few years earlier. Everyone hated hippies back then [8]

The book isn’t well written. It gets the job done but the first third is particularly poor at drawing the reader in. I figured out why. The writer, Michael Avallone, uses the odd prose style of reporting everything long after the event and in mostly passive voice. Take this section as an example, the very first lines of Fallen Angel:

  The last letter from his wife, Dorothea, was one that Philip St. George was to carry with him for the rest of his life. It was only a fairly short summons, a romantic plea from a lonely wife eager to see her husband again.
As things turned out, the poignant love cry buried somewhere in the racing feminine script was to sound over and over again, like Ravel’s Bolero, in the soul of the man who was not with her when disaster and terror and horror struck.
There is little a man can do when something is taken away from him. When he does realise, finally, far too late, just how much that something means to him.

That’s not very engaging is it? It’s not even a scene. Surely it would’ve made more sense to locate the reader into a scene as Philip reads the letter? “Philip dropped the telephone receiver and sat heavily in his smoking chair. He fumbled at the whiskey decanter on the table. ‘It’s your wife, she’s been murdered’. The sergeant’s words echoed in his ears and he was only now aware the policeman was still speaking, through the dropped receiver.”

Or something.

Everything about this story is overblown titillation. Here’s the beginning of the murder scene, the chapter helpfully titled “Overture To Slaughter” just in case you weren’t sure of it’s principal theme.

  She had lost the precious ability to scream.
To run, to hide, to vocally escape from the nightmare madness of it all. If she hadn’t been so terrified, so paralysed with fright, she might have been able to fight back. To at least halt the horror, block out the ugly reality.
But it was too late, now.
The hideous scene had engulfed her.
For all time.
They were holding her down, trapping her, doing obscene, awful things to her.
Tall, monstrous, distorted shadows surrounded her, blotting out the light, the hope, the clear path toward sanity and reason.
She was overwhelmed, pinned everlasting in a scene from Hell. A poor player impaled between fantasy and commonplace normality

That’s a bit over-egged I think. It’s also extremely vague as this is how the chapter opens. We don’t yet know who she is, where she is, what’s going on. Its all abstract and nonsensical. Fortunately the book does pick up eventually and the latter half is written in the present tense and involves people saying and doing things in real time. Sadly, there’s no drama or reversal. Philip decides to hunt them down and does exactly that. He’s never in any kind of scrape, needs no ingenuity, and frankly doesn’t even expose himself to risk. I know that beating up a few spaghetti-armed progressives isn’t very challenging (as we see every day on Twitter nowadays) but they should at least put up a bit of a fight to keep the reader entertained.

The one part where the book surprised me was the ending. Having kidnapped all four hippes and tied them up he decides not to kill them. His cold hatred has burned out, he fears what he’ll become, so he instead calls the police. That’s actually an interesting way to do it. In a book that promises gore, violence and murder the only actual violence committed in the entire novel is (i) the initial murder and (ii) the hippy leader beating up his girlfriend with his fists. It’s amazing how little carnage is here after that early chapter quoted above.

Anyway, it’s shite and I don’t recommend it. I suppose the fact Michael Avallone wrote 223 books (officially, he claimed a total of 1,000 including those written under pseudonyms) means you can’t expect him to spend much time on each.

Sigma Wolf store

The USA site is online now

What I do recommend is my own series of books available here to readers in the USA and available here to everyone else.

[1] No idea which, as they are so samey as to have blurred into one that I can’t see which saw I saw and which scene I seen from a saw I didn’t see.
[2] Except for killing globalist traitors. I’d still very much like to see them tortured to death.
[3] I know, it’s hard to believe that increased sensitivity to other people’s misfortunes may result from excessively active mirror neurons rather than simply “increased faggotry”.
[4] I always assume I’m right even when I’m not.
[5] I stress again that, “because you’re more of a faggot now” is an unscientific retort and you should know better than to think it.
[6] Unless you’re a spammer and thus not training calibration at all, or one of those “circling the drain” black sheep YouTube players who very specifically tries to prevent ever developing empathy.
[7] Basically, he’s me but in the 1970s.
[8] Nothing has changed.

One Comment

  1. Are you planning on writing fiction or you sticking to autobiographical work? [When I’ve written volume 5, I’ll have no stories left to write about. I’m more interested in fiction now, anyway. K.]

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