Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Captain Must Die

Robert Colby
The Captain Must Die

Prologue Books, 2012 (eBook)
(originally published by Gold Medal, in 1959)

Three former soldiers, 12 years after the war, return to town in Louisiana, where their former captain lives with his wife. The soldiers are looking forward to the meeting with Captain Driscoll, but not because they want to thank him for his good command. All three, on the contrary, are covered by hate and want to brutally kill the captain. Now Driscoll is a successful businessman, a father, a respectable and prosperous man, with still an attractive wife. Three soldiers do not just want to kill Driscoll, it would be too easy, but first, to scare him, knocking him from a measured pace of life, then take his woman, and then take all the money the captain, managed to save over 12 years of life and now he keeps them in a safe with the code. Brick, an organizer of a plan of revenge, is most eager to send a captain to hell - as retribution for a case during the war, for one incident, which nearly put an end to the lives of three ex-GIs.

Colby immediately initiates us into the plans of three, but not immediately lays out the truth about what happened 12 years ago. On the other hand Colby gives each character to speak. Everyone has their secrets, everyone has their attitude to the incident from the past, and each has its own plans for the future. Brick, fierce and angry man, suffered the loss of the family. Playboy Cal lost revenue work. Stupid Barney missed waiting with his bride.

I will not reveal a big secret when I say that all these 12 years, Brick, Barney and Cal spent in prison. But it is strange that Colby does not mention how prison term affected the three companions. Colby wrote that they were waiting for retribution and hoarded malice and hatred all the time, but the prison experience and the impact of prison on them - not a word about it, as if all these 12 years former soldiers were just waiting on the bench and not behind bars.

Colby is a little too simple, but he very skillfully creates an atmosphere of growing tension. Moreover, the author succeeds in achieving the effect where we stand on the side of the soldiers at the beginning of the novel. The positive hero is to be captain, but Colby uses in describing him such words and phrases that show the captain in an unfavorable light, as if he were the last bastard, making money on the failure of others. Three real bastards that are greedy for money and the flesh of women are the obvious anti-heroes, but before Colby reveals the secrets of the past, we are on the side of the inmates and ex-soldiers.

«The Captain Must Die» is written by all the canons of the genre, but it delivers the goods on all fronts.

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