Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Four-Chambered Villain by Gary Madderom

The Four-Chambered Villain by Gary Madderom
Curtis Books 07310, Copyright 1971

"The Four-Chambered Villain" is a chilling novel about a cold-blooded assassin. The sophisticated killer is called David Ekberg and he hires out his special talent throughout the international stage. In New York he is contacted by a representative from the Albanian UN delegation, who wants him to brutally eliminate four UN representatives. The Albanian plan is to force the UN to relocate to an African nation. And by showing that New York can't provide a safe haven for them, the UN Secretary General will easily agree to the move.

We follow Ekberg as he plans each assassination, the next one being more horrific than the last. Package bomb explosions, mutilations with a boning knife, and face to face strangulations that include splitting a man's skull open with a hammer -when Ekberg is hired to make these murders appear sick and vicious, he delivers. With the UN and NYC in a panic, his last target is the UN Secretary General and this one takes special planning.

This thriller moves fast and you're not disappointed in any of its 158 pages. In fact, this is one novel that you'll wish was longer, I didn't want it to end. The author amazing describes what makes Ekberg tick and shows that he is more than a glorified hitman. And as a reader you are almost pulling for Eckberg to successfully complete his hits, even if he is in the trade of killing innocent people. Also the eerie, cold, city atmosphere breathes a dark edge to the story. Quite an impressive little novel, that packs a hell of a punch.

Only minor flaw I had with "The Four-Chambered Villain" was near the end and that involved an operation in the hospital. But being that the novel was written in 1971, that scene may not have been that much of a stretch as I had thought. As for the author Gary Madderom, he wrote a couple of more novels, one that I know of is "The Jewels That Got Away." If I ever come across another novel by Madderom, I'll grab it.

"Ekberg calmly continued straggling her. A terrible retching sound somehow traveled up through her stocking-compressed neck and between her lips. Her body relaxed. She rode with death. Her sphincter let go and an instant later her bladder. Eckberg began to breathe through his mouth. He held on a couple of minutes longer and then let go"


David Cranmer said...

That last paragraph with the extremely descriptive scene hooked me.

Anonymous said...


You've stumped me this time. Although I have Madderom's other book, I've never even seen a copy of this one.

What's worse, you've convinced me that I have to have it!



Chris said...

Sounds like classic early 70s violence to me! :) There was a rawness to that era, it seems, in both book and film.

Lee Goldberg said...

Where do you find this stuff? I have never heard of this author. ABE should give you a commission for all the books I buy from them based on your reviews...


Lee Goldberg said...

I read the book in one sitting yesterday. It's tight and cold and entertaining, but it also felt slight and under-written to me. It read more like a fleshed-out treatment rather than a fully-realized and textured novel. I couldn't help wishing that Madderom had done one more rewrite, giving more color to the setting and depth to the characters (particularly the victims). And even though though the plot revolves around a conspiracy involving the United Nations, there was no real sense of scope to the novel. Or even palpable suspense. As hitman books go, it's okay...but's it's no BUTCHER'S BOY or DAY OF THE JACKAL.

The book is at its best when describing Ekberg's brutal sexual encounters and the matter-of-fact violence of his murders. It's what happens in between the fucking and the killing that doesn't really work (particularly the multiple viewpoint opening pages and the rushed ending).