Book(s) of the Month, August: The Island and The Night Boat

The cycle of education continues as school has begun here in our little part of the great state of Tennessee.  As a working adult, I envy the kids.  Work nine months, receive two months off and all major holidays.  Two weeks at Christmas?  Awesome.  Fall break?  Spring break?  Where’s Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine?

I didn’t go anywhere for vacation this year. Actually, I didn’t take any vacation time at all. I, like a lot of others out there, had to spend my summer working. For that reason, I thought I would suggest a couple of novels this late summer month month whose pages will take you to sun drenched beaches and cool, Caribbean waters. They will also provide a nice dose of sinister dread and horror.

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A couple of months ago now, I think, I watched The Island.  It starred Michael Caine in the adaptation of a Peter Benchley novel.  I enjoyed the movie and wanted to read the book.  Sadly, the book is out of print and there was no digital edition available.  The used copies were either more than I wanted to pay for an old used book or else they were completely out of my price range.  Miracle of miracles, I stumbled upon a copy in my town’s local used bookstore.  I bought it.  I read it.

The movie followed the book pretty close, but, as usual, the book is better.  New York City journalist Blair Maynard wants to know why so many boats have disappeared in the waters in, and near, the Bermuda Triangle, namely the island chain of Turks and Caicos.  What he discovers is a colony of people (mostly men) descended from pirates.  They are inbred, low on women and kids, have a few prostitutes and they all still live that pirate life.  Blair, along with his twelve-year-old son, Justin, are abducted by the pirates.  They brainwash Justin and plan to kill Blair as soon as he gets one of their women pregnant.  The movie is campy, dumb fun.  The book is crazy fun.

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For something a little more “serious” and straight up horror, I urge you to pick up a copy of Robert McCammon’s The Night BoatSalvage-diver-with-emotional-baggage David Moore makes a thrilling discovery in the waters off the Caribbean island where he lives.  Buried on the bottom of the lagoon is a Nazi U-boat.  As if this wasn’t amazing enough, there are still Nazis sealed within the sub.  They are dead, though.  They are also zombies.

If you have read enough posts here at Curio Macabre, you know I enjoy me some WWII-themed horror.  Nazi zombies are a staple.  Today, they may be done to death (see what I did there), but when The Night Boat was first published in 1980, they were an oddity mainly regulated to Italian horror films (at least that’s the only place I’ve been aware of them).  The Nazi living dead in this book have that Italian zombie feel which makes is the cherry on top of this horror sundae.  It is some wonderful schlock.