Monday, December 6, 2010

Diamondback: It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

I've never met Derrick Ferguson, but he seems like the kind of guy I'd hang out with. Every week he and a fellow cinemaphile Tom Deja broadcast podcast Better In the Dark, a show recorded in Derrick's basement. For the longest time I would listen to the show while I worked on refinishing my upstairs bathroom. I became so enamored over the show I would quit grouting tile just to find more episodes for listening. To listen to Derrick and Tom play off each other, their love for New York City movie houses, their encyclopedic knowledge of obscure TV shows, well, it made the job of ripping out lap boards much easier.
But now I'm finished with the remodeling.
Guess I'll have to tile another floor just to justify listening to their show.
I'd known Derrick was a writer every since listening to the show. However, his books can be difficult to find. Since he was also a pulp fan like myself, I was determined to find at least one of them. And the first one I've ran across is Diamondback.
Ferguson has described the novel as his attempt at doing a modern spaghetti western film in book form. I have to admit, all the elements are there: the stranger coming to town, the rival gangs, the beautiful saloon girl. It's set in the mythical town of Denbrook, which is a corrupt major United States city (I picture Philadelphia, but then I'm right next door to the city Where All The Brothers Love Each Other). And it is also one of the bloodiest books I have ever read.
The plot is simple: Denbrook's major crime lord Titus Hegemon is planning to retire and turn his operation over to his loyal lieutenant, Nickleby Laloosh. He has one big score left. Hegemon's paid for a gun shipment which will roll into town born in the guts of three tractor trailer trucks. To make sure he doesn't have any problems, Hegemon pays to have the Denbrook police round-up all the rival crime bosses and hold them till the deal is sealed. It looks to be a good plan.
But he hasn't planned on Diamondback Vogel showing up in town. Diamondback is a legendary gunman whom everyone had thought dead. Within 24 hours of his arrival, the city of Denbrook is ripped apart by gang war. And the trucks have yet to arrive.
When they do, it causes a battle right out of a WW2 movie. There are factions too numerous to mention all trying to get their hands on those guns and they manage to shoot each other to pieces within minutes of the weapons' arrival.
I should also mention the lack of any admirable personages in this novel. Everyone is playing their own game, trying to outsmart, their rivals. No one is the least bit sympathetic, save Diamondback, who does let an innocent person flee the carnage.
A sequel is promised.

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