Robert McCammon continues to impress with ‘The Five’

I’ve been a fan of Robert McCammon since his first novel, “Baal,” was published in paperback in 1978. That’s a long time to be a fan of one author.

During those three decades, I’ve had the pleasure of reading his other novels, including “They Thirst,” “Swan Song,” “Usher’s Passing,” “Mystery Walk,” “Boy’s Life,” “Speaks the Nightbird” and “Mister Slaughter,” just to name a few.

McCammon’s newest novel, “The Five,” continues his journey of being one of the best authors alive in America today who refuses to be confined to any one genre, be it horror, thrillers, drama or historical.

The central theme of the new novel revolves around a heavy-metal band named The Five that’s made up of three men and two women with a manager driving the van. They’ve been writing their own songs and making the nightly gigs to lounges and stages around the southwestern part of the country for three years, struggling to make a name for themselves and to get that lucky break.

Everything changes when an ex-Marine sniper starts hunting them because of comments made in an interview about the soldiers in Iraq. The sniper starts picking them off one at a time. The strange thing is as a band member is killed, the band itself becomes more famous with the media circling like vultures.

Once the FBI becomes involved in the killings, the special agent in charge takes over the role of their manager and drives them from job to job, fighting the fans and the reporters. The only problem with the FBI agent is that he’s an ex-Marine and wants to bring in the sniper safely at the risk of losing someone else in the band. How many will have to die before the sniper is finally caught?

If you love heavy-metal music and rock bands, then this novel is right up your alley. Even if you don’t, you’ll enjoy McCammon’s crisp prose, strong character development, intricate plotting, inevitable twists and turns, and the high octane buildup to a climatic ending.

While this novel has been praised as McCammon’s best, I think it still ranks just under “Boy’s Life,” “Speaks the Nightbird” and “Mister Slaughter.” Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and thought many of the chapters were outstanding, especially the one dealing with the history of Stone Church. That chapter was scary and could have been the beginning to a different novel with horror stamped all over it.

I also want to say something about McCammon’s new publisher, Subterranean Press. The quality of books published by Subterranean Press makes New York publishers look like the poorest of the poor. Subterranean books are made with the finest quality paper, binding and artwork for the dust jacket. I love books and have been greatly impressed with the high standards of Subterranean Press. Their books are ones you definitely want to keep on your bookshelf. For me, this is what books are all about. It’s not just the story inside the covers, but also the care that’s given to the making of the book.
McCammon now is hard at work on the fourth Matthew Corbett novel, “Providence Rider,” which is due out in 2012. You can go to the author’s website for more information. This will also be published by Subterranean Press, and I’m praying that by the time the novel comes out, Hollywood will be knocking on McCammon’s door.   

Wayne C. Rogers is the author of the horror novellas “The Encounter” and “The Tunnels,” both of which can be purchased at Amazon’s Kindle Store for 99 cents each.

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