Thursday, June 17, 2010
Favourite thrillers: Matt Hilton on David Morrell
For me, Morrell’s The Brotherhood of the Rose (1984) is a book that all other action thrillers should be judged by, particularly those dealing with espionage, assassins and hidden government agencies. The story sounds clichéd these days, but that’s because so many other authors have used elements from Morrell’s book, and in its day it was a first. As an author writing in a similar field, I feel that I owe a lot to The Brotherhood of the Rose insofar as I have borrowed the idea of a hidden assassination bureau to give back-story to my own character of Joe Hunter. The Brotherhood of the Rose introduced me to the kind of thriller fiction I’d been longing to read, but had never found before, and as such, all these years later remains one of my favourite books in the field.
In short, The Brotherhood of the Rose is built upon a pact of secrecy among various intelligence agencies, and they run a network of safe houses throughout the world (The Abelard Sanction) wherein agents are forbidden from taking action against each other. Members of the brotherhood each cultivate and train loyal assassins from a tender age, and the book concentrates on two orphans, Saul and Chris, who discover a conspiracy of murder and are targeted for death by their ‘father’, Elliot. When Chris is killed, Saul seeks revenge on the man he loved as a father and in the act contravenes the ‘Abelard Sanction’ and the stage is set for a thrilling chase and counter-attack that sees Saul going up against the most deadly killers the security agencies can send against him.
Two further books formed a loose trilogy, The Fraternity of the Stone and The League of Night and Fog, and David Morrell even revisited Saul’s character to pen the short story The Abelard Sanction for inclusion in 2006’s bestselling anthology Thriller: stories to keep you up all night (Mira Books).
A TV mini-series starring Robert Mitchum (Elliot), Peter Strauss (Saul) and David Morse (Chris) aired in 1989, and I’ve heard recent whisperings about a new Hollywood treatment of the book. I can’t wait.
Matt Hilton is author the Joe Hunter thrillers. See http://www.matthiltonbooks.com/ for more information.