June 9, 2014

Death Merchant #8: Billionaire Mission

I don't have Death Merchant #7 (The Castro File), so I will proceed to the eighth number in Joseph Rosenberger's long-running series: Billionaire Mission.

Cleveland Winston Silvestter is a paranoid, misanthropic billionaire businessman who, after much deep study of the occult, "discovered" that Satan is the true God and controller of the world and that he, Silvestter, is his chosen disciple. Silvestter believes the complete destruction of the human race is necessary to make a new beginning - a new dawn - for Lucifer, with CWS as the new Adam!

His plan to bring it about: assassinate various world leaders and blame enemy nations. When the book begins, several leaders are already dead and only two assassination plots remain: the U.S. President and the Russian Premier. Silvestter plans to retreat to his 850,000-acre sheep ranch in northeast Australia and sit tight as the nations of the world annihilate each other with atomic weapons.

Richard Camellion, the Death Merchant, argues with the CIA about the best way to go after Silvestter. The DM wants to infiltrate his Manhattan skyscraper, but the decision is ultimately made - early in the book, page 44 - to waste him in Australia. So we know that the ultimate battle will come with Camellion travelling Down Under. Camellion first goes to Rome, to meet up with agents from Russia, Britain, France, and Australia, who will assist him in storming Silvestter's massive compound.

Camellion and the other assassins fly from Rome to Bombay and then are transported by yacht to Brisbane, which leaves plenty of time for conversation. And considering Silvestter's religious beliefs are key to the book, Rosenberger has the Death Merchant engage in not one, not two, but three separate arguments about religion. One of the discussions (which becomes a lecture when Camellion is talking) goes on for seven pages!
Whether it's Satanism or Christianity, each form of belief is based on the acceptance of sheer myth as concluded fact. Each is a narrow form of belief, and both are childish. ...

The world would have been spared a lot of pain and suffering if Christianity had evolved into a religion of tolerance as, say, Taoism or Buddhism. Instead the religion of the Bible is as intolerant and militaristic as any Hitler ... a religion that has to go out and conquer the world - and God help those who disagree with it, if you'll pardon the pun! ... The great tragedy is that none of it, not a damned bit of it, has anything to do with the real creator of this universe! ...

I deal only in facts! And I have refused to let myself be influenced by a religion that is more interested in money than men! Behind the Biblical idea of 'Jehovah' stands a political pattern of tyranny, of rule by violence, of mental and moral slavery.
Camellion does not elaborate on "the real creator of the universe". During the debate, the Russian agent discourses on the "sociopolitical domination" of organized religion and points out various inconsistencies in the four "inspired" gospels.

During the voyage to Brisbane, they are met by a large enemy ship sporting an antiaircraft gun on its deck (a German 5.5-cm Gerat 58-AA). After a lengthy shootout - in which Rosenberger tells us what kind of gun each man is using - and some fancy maneuvering by the yacht's captain, Camellion actually leaps aboard the enemy vessel. In no time at all, he has killed everyone on board. Then, after pouring shark repellent over his body, he leaps into the sea and swims back to the waiting yacht!

When the men are back again on dry land, they are flown to within sixty miles of New Eden, and they set off in armoured jeeps. They are met with resistance once they cross over into Silvestter's land, but they get through and storm the main compound. There is a fierce shootout in a gym/pool area: "Pavel [the Russian agent] gave the last rites ... sprinkling them with holy lead from his blessed submachine gun ... From then on, the devil dunces would have to do their calisthenics in Hell ..."
[In the building's hospital] Two patients in bed were too ill even to hold weapons, but that didn't prevent Pavel from giving them shots not called for on their charts - a prescription of 9-mm slugs guaranteed to cure any aliment! No one ever complained about the dosage ...
Rosenberger also delivers his usual hilarious (and often racist) descriptions of the goons and boobs gunning for the DM. This time, they are Italian: "spaghetti elbow bender ... garlic gobblers ... wop cops ... goofy guinea". Also, Silvestter's group of believers are described alliteratively as "Satan saps", "demonologist dummies", and "Lucifer lunatics". My favourite line, which came completely out of the blue: "The old bastard looked about as intelligent as a high-school football coach."

After driving into the underground compound and wasting everyone on the first floor, Camellion and his men quickly race through the other floors, making their way to the sixth and final level and the Hall of Conjuration. The DM and four men blast in, outnumbered 2:1 and quickly out of ammo. What follows is 12 pages of intricately described hand-to-hand combat! One of Silvestter's men catches a knife in the neck, his blood "spurting as thick as a pencil".

The Death Merchant emerges victorious. The CIA wanted Silvestter taken alive, but that was not possible. The epilogue has Camellion already contemplating his next mission: "I've got to go waste some sandcrabs!", i.e., Arabs in North Africa.

June 3, 2014

Death Merchant #7: The Castro File

In Death Merchant #7, Richard Camellion - supreme master of disguise, deception, and death - is sent to Cuba to prevent the assassination of Fidel Castro. The Russians want Castro to assist them in overthrowing existing governments in South America, but Castro, feeling the need to throw off Soviet influence, is unwilling. So the Russians plan to assassinate him and substitute a lookalike in his place, and gain complete control of Cuba.

Camellion travels to Cuba with a Canadian passport in the name of Milton F. Sessions, a left-wing sympathizer who works for The Voice of the People, a radical newspaper operated by the CIA in Toronto (!). We learn a bit more about the mysterious man known as the Death Merchant. He is described as "ruggedly handsome" and is an "agnostic". He hates bugs and has an "absolute horror" about rats. His love of raisins is mentioned twice.

Rosenbegrer describes Camellion as "a man with a computer for a mind .. a man with nerves of pure ice who killed more efficiently than most men could spit on the sidewalk." He is a "dealer in instant oblivion", a "one-man circus of Death and Destruction", and a "vendor of mayhem and violence".

Camellion is ambushed on his fourth day in Havana, and realizes there is probably a spy within the Cuban Revolutionary Council who outed him to the government. He kills all eight of the Army intelligence agents sent to capture him and escapes to a safe house. But the spy has also tipped off the DIER agents about the safe house and so there is a big shootout, with Camellion escaping through a tunnel in the floor of a back room.

He ends up high in the Sancti Spiritus Mountains, where the CRC has its headquarters. A plan is hatched to kidnap two Russian officers who frequent a Havana whorehouse. Under threat of torture, the officers reveal that the Castro double is due to arrive by ship in a few days. The Death Merchant and CIA agent Vallie West attack the cargo ship - Camellion disguises himself as a Russian military officer to gain access to the ship - and grab the double, thus foiling the Russians' plan. They end up hijacking an armoured car outside of an arena where Castro is speaking, then drive straight into the arena and dump the drugged double's body near Castro's box.

At one point, Rosenberger has Castro reflect on the differences between Cuba and the U.S.:
He was very proud of what he had accomplished. Unemployment was nonexistent in Cuba. Illiteracy had practically vanished. Schools and medical care were free, and rents were fixed at no more than a tenth of one's income. Hunger had been vanquished, and children with bloated bellies were now impossible to find.

Castro's jaw knotted in determination. Let the Yankee imperialists call him a brute! Let the wealthy pigs call him a communist! The world still defined his achievements by the schools, roads, housing projects and hospitals that had already established Cuba's preeminence in Latin America for mass delivery of social services. That's more than the Yankee imperialists could say for the United States, where five million were unemployed, eighteen million were on welfare, and the average worker couldn't afford to be sick!
When the mission has been completed, someone thanks Camellion and the U.S. government for its help. This gives the Death Merchant a chance to rant about
the idiots who occupy very high places in Washington ... peanut-minded men who should be running filling stations. Instead, they're governing the United States. This explains why Billy Graham leads the White House in prayer to a 'God' who applauds napalm, and why Washington leads us in worship of a corporate self whose body we do not perceive!"
When told he sounds bitter and is asked "don't you love your country?", he replies:
If I didn't, I wouldn't give a damn! I wouldn't criticize Washington's crazy politics! But I don't like living in a blind tribe led by Lilliputians who stupidly mistake power for greatness and mechanical aptitude for holiness!