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bibliography such as that of David Morrell's --- ranging from the
creation of an American icon (Rambo, in FIRST BLOOD) to the
critical examination of one of the 20th century's most influential
authors of existential fiction (JOHN BARTH: An Introduction) ---
would lead some writers to take a much-deserved break, if not
retire altogether. However, Morrell appears to be blessed with an
endless amount of energy. After reading CREEPERS and now its
sequel, SCAVENGER, one can only conclude that, even after a
quarter-century, he is only getting warmed up.

SCAVENGER, which features the return of the damaged but functional
Frank Balenger and Amanda Evert, is quite different from its
immediate predecessor --- not only in topic but also in breadth and
scope. The novel places its protagonists in two entirely separate
settings, uniting them only twice (and briefly at that). Balenger
and Evert are together at the beginning of SCAVENGER when they
attend what is billed as a lecture regarding time capsules. When
the speech is over, however, Balenger finds himself drugged,
separated from Evert, and the object of taunting clues issued from
an unknown and deadly source whose enigmatic purpose seems to be
either to murder Balenger or drive him mad.

Meanwhile, Evert regains consciousness to find herself in a
mysterious, unknown location with four other individuals of varying
talents and backgrounds, all of whom are subjected to a series of
challenges they must solve together if they do not wish to perish
separately --- a requirement that is graphically demonstrated
repeatedly and with finality. Both Balenger and Evert need to race
against the clock as they are manipulated by an apparently
omnipresent Game Master who seems to control everything, leaving
nothing to chance and everything to choice.

As demonstrated in CREEPERS, however, Balenger is a master of
thinking and acting outside the box. As he races to solve the
puzzle and save Evert, Balenger discovers that the only way to win
the game and defeat the seemingly invincible creature behind it is
to break the rules before time runs out for everyone.

SCAVENGER is arguably Morrell's most ambitious and challenging work
yet. It is very of-the-moment, combining elements of GPS and video
game technology while at the same time steeping itself in a pulp
adventure atmosphere reminiscent of Doc Savage and The Wizard
of Oz
in what is very much today's world. Considered the
father of the modern action novel, Morrell continues to reinvent
not only himself but also the genre, and keeps his readers on the
edge of their seats while doing so.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

by David Morrell

  • Publication Date: March 12, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vanguard Press
  • ISBN-10: 1593154410
  • ISBN-13: 9781593154417