Monday, August 25, 2008

Plunder by Benjamin Appel

Plunder by Benjamin Appel
Gold Medal 266, Copyright 1952

"Blacky, don't you see it? The black market must be blooming a mile a minute! God Almighty, this town is a paradise!"

"Plunder" is a stark novel that immerses the reader in an underworld of immoral prosperity and calculating betrayal. Potently written, it slams into the reader like a fist.

This novel about soldiers Joe Trent and Blacky MacIntyre is not your typical G.I. story. These are two tough and vile guys, who have just been released from the stockade in Manila. The city is war-torn and they see plenty of opportunity to make a fast buck, all illegal. We witness them rise in the black market trade using people and treating them as if they were scum. There are no good guys here, we despise them all the way through the book. And the more they are successful in their hustling activities, the more we want to see them pay for what they have done. Benjamin Appel tries to lure the reader into having some sympathy for Blacky, but we can't - he's just playing with us. It must end, and when it does-it ends tragically,with nothing gained by the two.

This novel is full of deceit and hatred, and I'm glad there weren't too many G.I.s in WWII like these two. The novel sure has a bite to it-just like the dark, economically torn, streets of Manila after the Japanese defeat. Finely written by a highly talented author. Benjamin Appel's novels are unconventionally exhilarating. Both of his Gold Medal novels are among the best published by the company, this one and "Sweet Money Girl." (1954) But you can't go wrong reading any of the others from the author's quality bibliography.
(One of his least known books, "Big Man, A Fast Man" (1961) is an outstanding literary work)

He kicked madly at the pale glimmering head until the body no longer twitched. Then, panting, his left arm hanging loosely as if almost severed from his left shoulder, he searched for the .45. It glinted darkly near the wall. Blacky snatched it up and holding it by the barrel, pounded at the head in a fury.

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