You know how a schlocky action movie will promise you all kinds of crazy, high-velocity mayhem on the DVD cover, but then the movie delivers little or nothing of that and you’re left feeling ripped off?
Well, that happens with action/adventure novels sometimes, and “GOTHAM GORE” is a standout example. It’s the 35th and final novel in the Butcher series, written by Michael Avallone under the pen name Stuart Jason.
The first disappointment an unsuspecting reader will face is that the Butcher doesn’t live up to his name. If you’re hoping (as I was) that he’s a kill-crazy vigilante psychopath, forget it. He’s actually a former Mafia guy who turned secret agent for the government. Oh well.
As always in this series, the novel opens with the Butcher having to deal with a would-be assassin. Once that’s out of the way, we slowly work our way into the slow-moving story, and slowly begin to realize that none of the cool stuff depicted on the front cover of the paperback will be forthcoming.
The blurb on the back assures us that the novel has “something to do with black magic, hand grenades and a Demon Master--- with a little Nazi know-how thrown in for good measure.” Well, here’s what you’re led to expect, and what you’ll actually get:
What you want: The evil Satanic ritual depicted on the book cover, with the human sacrifice of a busty virgin
What you get: The Satanist is about as creepy as your dad’s accountant; the girl is no longer a virgin (ladies can’t resist the Butcher) and there will be no ritual and no human sacrifice
What you want: The Butcher blowing away bad guys with a machine gun, like he does on the cover
What you get: One pistol, no machine gun. The Butcher shoots only two or three people in the entire book
What you want: That Nazi with the “know-how”
What you get: The Satanist’s henchman is a German guy who never does anything remarkable, other than getting the drop on the Butcher several times but stupidly never killing him
What you want: That “Demon Master”
What you get: No demon, no master
What you want: The Satanist is scheming to blow up New York landmarks like the Empire State Building. Let’s see stuff get blown up!
What you get: Nothing gets blown up but the Satanist and his hide-out
What you want: The book’s called “GOTHAM GORE”, so let’s have some!
What you get: No gore, just a couple of explosions, and they don’t happen in Gotham
What you want: A fitting conclusion to the saga of 'The Butcher', since this is the final book in the series
What you get: He calls Headquarters, gives the boss his report, that’s about it (mitigating factor: the book is finally over)
Johnny Rotten once asked his audience, “Ever have the feeling you’ve been cheated?” Why yes, Johnny, I have. I’ve read “GOTHAM GORE”.