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Gone South

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Flooded by memories, poisoned by the deadly fallout of Agent Orange, and desperate for work, Dan Lambert kills a man in a moment of blind fear and fury. It is an act he cannot excuse--a mistake that will change his life forever. Now Dan is on the run, heading south toward the Louisiana bayous. On his trail are police officers and bounty hunters, including the most memorable and bizarre team ever paired in modern fiction: Pelvis Eisley, an Elvis impersonator of the worst kind, and Flint Murtaugh, a fastidious, ruthluss loner and freak-show refugee who carries the body of his unformed twin brother on his side.

As Dan heads down into the swampland in search of his own salvation, he meets a young woman who is on a similar journey. Like Dan, Arden Halliday bears a great burden--a disfiguring purple birthmark that blankets half her face. Wounded by the stares, by the pity and revulsion, she is making her way into the bayous to search of the Bright Girl--a legendary faith healer who will rid her of her birthmark and her suffering. Though on separate missions, Arden and Dan come to respect each other's quest for freedom, for a touch of simple kindness in a world grown cruel. Thrown together by circumstance, bound by a loyalty stranger than love, they set off on a journey of relentless suspense and impassioned discovery...an odyssey over dark, twisting road and waterways into the beautiful and mysterious depths of the human heart.

400 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1992

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About the author

Robert McCammon

145 books4,543 followers
Robert Rick McCammon was a full-time horror writer for many years. Among his many popular novels were the classics Boy's Life and Swan Song. After taking a hiatus for his family, he returned to writing with an interest in historical fiction.

His newest novel, The King of Shadows, is the eighth book in the Matthew Corbett series. It will be published in ebook and audiobook formats in June 2022, and in trade hardcover from Lividian Publictions in December 2022.

Lividian will also be releasing five books in the Matthew Corbett series in trade paperback formats, one per month starting in July 2022.

McCammon resides in Birmingham, Alabama. He is currently working on the ninth Matthew Corbett book, Seven Shades of Evil.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 460 reviews
Profile Image for Mort.
626 reviews1,270 followers
December 9, 2018
Wow! Just. Plain. WOW!

Show me what it’s like
To dream in black and white
So I can leave this world tonight.

Breaking Benjamin – UNKNOWN SOLDIER

There is nothing fair about war. Gone are the days where the soldiers were led into battle by their fearless leader. In the end, nobody wins, at least not anyone who does the actual fighting on the ground. When it comes to patriotism, to paraphrase George Orwell, some countrymen are more equal than others.
War changes people, and most people who have never experienced it, can’t even begin to fathom the sacrifices and horrors of war. The real heroes are not only the ones who fought bravely, but anyone who can come back from war and put it behind them. In the worst circumstances, things must be done in order to survive and, very much like childbirth, it might be a miracle but it is never, ever pretty.
Don’t get me wrong, a pacifist I am not, but I am also realistic about the living nightmare it must be. I have been praying for many, many years, that I will be able to live out my life without having to experience it. War truly scares me, even more so since becoming a father.
People still differ in their opinions on the Vietnam war – this review is not about that, but the main character in this story fought in that war.

Dan Lambert, a Vietnam veteran, was a good soldier who did his part for his country. Living on borrowed time with leukemia, he has lost just about everything: His family, his job and now the bank wants to repossess his truck.
When a confrontation with the loan officer at the bank ends with murder, Dan flees.

Then you get the flip of the coin. Flint Murtaugh is an experienced bounty hunter and he goes after Dan, but he has to take a new recruit, Pelvis Eisley, with him to learn the ropes. Oh yes, did I mention that Pelvis is an Elvis impersonator and Flint a Siamese twin with…wait, I’m just going to make it sound ridiculous – McCammon can pull it off but I can’t.

The writing of the two bounty hunters is some comedy relief, but not to a silly level, more like something you would expect from Carl Hiaason. And the character development is so good that you find yourself feeling sympathy for them as much as for Dan. They are not bad guys in this story, even though you find yourself rooting for Dan.

And Dan meets a girl, Arden Halliday, with the disfiguring birthmark on her face, who needs to head south as well in what can only be described as a far-fetched fantasy which can only end in disappointment.
There is such a perfect balance between the drama, action and comedy in this story that you can’t help but to race through this story.

This story was PERFECT for me, because I can’t think of a single thing that can improve this novel. It hits all the right emotions at exactly the right time. And I can recommend it to almost anybody, because reading this was an unforgettable experience.


Profile Image for Arah-Lynda.
337 reviews520 followers
November 9, 2017
It was hell’s season, and the air smelled of burning children.

Think you want to read more? Exactly.

Dan is a Vietnam War vet, suffering the lingering effects of Agent Orange. He fought for his country and got pissed on. He has lost everything: his wife, his son, his home. He is on his way to the bank, to see the loans officer, with whom he has a good rapport, in a last ditch effort to keep his truck. But things have changed, most notably the loans officer. A scuffle ensues; the new loans officer lay dead. Guilty of a desperate act, made in an equally desperate moment, this veteran now has a price on his head, and is suddenly on the run, wanted by the law. He heads south toward the Louisiana bayou.

At a truck stop he meets Arden Halliday, who bears a disfiguring purple birthmark that covers half her face. Life has not been kind to Arden. She is clutching to the only hope she has left; her belief in The Bright Girl, a legendary faith healer, who can be found in the bayou.

Dan may be Arden’s ticket to actually finding her.

On their tail, also swamp bound, are two of the most curious bounty hunters you will ever encounter. I do not say this lightly.

On the shelf above the “pretties” were eight photo albums that contained the pictures Smoates had collected of what seemed to be his driving passion next to making money and eating. Smoates was a connoisseur of freaks. As other men enjoyed vintage wine, fine paintings, or sculpture, Smoates craved grotesque oddities of flesh and bone.

He acquired Flint Murtaugh, our bounty hunter, at a side show.

But then Flint himself might still be an object of disgusting fascination had Smoates not visited the side show tent that advertised, among other attractions, Flint and Clint, the Two in One. Soon you will meet his brother.

And then there’s Pelvis Eisley, the big bellied, fat-jowled twin of Elvis Presley as he’d been the year of his death at Graceland. He is actually, a hunter in training, and he’s got Mama with him.




Did I mention the bayou……..McCammon ushered me in, to that isolated, god forsaken place we all imagine, deep in the sluggish, overgrown waters. His descriptive powers paint an overwhelming sense of place.
Down in Louisiana where the alligators grow so mean
…………..and it’s not all Polk salad. The locals govern themselves, no poh…..lice to be found here.

The bayou’s green walls closed in. Thirty feet overhead the tree branches merged, breaking the light into yellow shards. Burt reduced their speed by half and steered the curve of another bend where the mossy tree trunks were as big around as tractor tires. And there, ahead of them in a still and silent cove, was Little Train’s house.

"See, Dan, it’s like this: you look on a map of the country, you see this swamp down here and it still looks like it’s part of The United States right? Well, the map lies. This down here is a world all to its ownself. It’s got its own language, its own industries, its own……well, I wouldn’t call em laws, exactly. Codes would be more like it. Yeah, codes. The first one is: you don’t mess with me, I don’t mess with you."


Hope paddles this boat: searching for redemption, searching for a miracle, searching for a way out, searching for ones own self, searching, for a little dignity.

The swamp, the gators, the locals, this trip; it will change them all.

McCammon is a gifted storyteller and this is an all round excellent adventure. I savoured it slowly, as one would mighty, fine wine or a mighty, fine story. :)
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
843 reviews1,684 followers
August 26, 2019
I have recommended Boy's Life and Wolf's Hour to everyone I know on GR. Then Swan Song was a loooooong book and I found it to be mediocre but likable. I simply adore Matthew Corbett. So I can safely say that I am a Robert McCammon fan but this book simply disappointed me.

From the Vietnam War veteran to a desperate girl clinging to the idea of Bright Girl who will cure her of her scar to the bounty hunters who wanted to capture the murderer for the prize of 15k. This was a promising story but by the time I read the end, it felt like I was going round and round in circles and ended up where I had started. While the characters of Dan and Arden in my opinion were honed beautifully, almost every other character felt one dimensional to me.

I think I will take a break from Mr. McCammon for now.
Profile Image for Lori.
308 reviews101 followers
November 11, 2017
A good road trip read. Well, it's good book about a road trip. I wouldn't suggest it to someone spending a lot of time alone in the swampy part of Louisiana in the dark. No disrespect intended to Louisiana or the good people of Louisiana. Their swamps and wetlands are used a bit much as settings for dark doings. That's no fault of Mayhaw jelly. The place names run in background of this story like a pleasant, familiar song.

I noticed that a lot people loved the first line. It is attention grabber. Personally, I was a little alarmed. This might not do. I'm not keen on harming children. But, it's memory. The main character is haunted and poisoned from serving his country. And, true enough children burned during his service. Those little skulls are a shared burden.

It could be a little to violent for some people. It's also funny and tragic. Full of memorable characters playing the cards that they have been dealt .
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,861 reviews10.5k followers
September 28, 2017
When Vietnam vet Dan Lambert gets a notice in the mail that his truck is being repossessed, he heads down to the bank. The bank manager is an arrogant asshole and before Dan knows it, things have gone south in a big way. Where will Dan run when the police are after him and the bank president puts a $15,000 bounty on his head?

After reading Boy's Life, I kept my eye out for more McCammon on the cheap. Gone South, Bookgorilla email, yadda, yadda, yadda.

For some reason, this book languished on my kindle until someone let me know there were both an Elvis impersonator and a parasitic twin in this book. After that, I had only to fit it into my schedule.

Dan Lambert is a semi-employed carpenter at the beginning of the book, a divorced Vietnam vet with Leukemia that never left the war behind. When he loses his truck, he unwittingly unleashes a shitstorm and soon finds himself on the run. On his trail are Flint Murtaugh, gambler/bounty hunter, and Pelvis Eisley, a would-be bounty hunter he's saddled with. Flint has a conjoined twin he calls Clint and Pevlis is an Elvis impersonator if that wasn't clear by his name.

Gone South is more of a straight up crime book than anything else. There are no supernatural elements. There's a little more gore than most crime books, though. It's more in the Elmore Leonard/Joe Lansdale vein of crime books than anything McCammon had done prior. Also like Elmore Leonard, you wind up liking the bad guys quite a bit. The dialogue is great and sometimes hilarious. McCammon also shows off his writing chops quite a bit. I highlighted quite a few memorable lines while reading.

In the introduction, which I'm glad I read after the fact, McCammon describes Gone South as a journey from hell back to the garden of Eden, which I can see now that I've finished. Dan, Arden, Murtaugh, and Eisely are all pretty directionless at the beginning. They all grow as characters through the story, going through the meatgrinder, and coming out changed on the other side. It doesn't hurt that there are much badder bad guys than Murtaugh along the way.

What else can I say? Gone South is a really gripping, entertaining read. I don't have anything bad to say about it. While I've read and enjoyed four or five Robert McCammon books before this, part of me always thought of him as a Stephen King ripoff and I didn't understand why some people held him in such high regard. I get it now. Four out of five stars.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,462 reviews927 followers
October 21, 2015
"It was Hell's season, and the air smelled of burning children."

This is how the journey South of Dan Lambert begins, on a stifling hot summer in Shreveport. The year is 1991, and Dan is painfully reminded of the horrors of the Vietnam War - an experience that scarred him for life both physically, as a result of exposure to Agent Orange, and emotionally, as his PTSD has driven his wife and child away. As if his illness and family troubles were not enough, the country is in a middle of a recession, and Dan is out of work. The straw that broke the camel's back takes the form of a bank summons to repossess his pickup truck, the only means he has left for looking for work. Dan gets into an argument with the bank manager, security is called in, a fight breaks up and a man is killed. Suddenly Dan is on the run from the law. He has "gone south" . McCammon explains through the novel that the expression has several interpretations, all valid:
- it's Cajun talk for bein' dead
- it's an expression used in Vietnam for somebody who goes crazy, who snaps and goes on a rampage
- it's actually the journey Dan takes towards the Alabama bayou, the Mississippi Delta water labyrinth where he hopes to escape pursuit and to take stock of his situation.

Dan Lambert is not the only character on a quest here. He meets on the road a girl on the run from herself as much as from society: Arden, with her face disfigured by a huge birthmark, is trying to find the Bright Girl, a mythical creature hiding in the bayou and reported to be able to heal every illness with a touch of her hands. Clint and Pelvis Eisley are a couple of mismatched bounty hunters, one cynical, experienced and introverted, the other a babbling rookie who made a previous career out of impersonating Elvis. The duo is responsible for much of the humor in the novel, but McCammon deftly avoids painting them as caricatures by slowly revealing the pain and the rejection they in their turn have experienced in life, treated as freaks and oddballs. Little Train is a solitary fisherman in the bayou, another war veteran who has chosen to live in isolation in the middle of nature. Each member of the group, with the exception of Little Train, is looking for a way out of his problems: Dan has to accept responsibility for his killing rage and to come to terms with his illness, Arden has to come to terms with her disfigurement, Clint has to decide about his job dissatisfaction and Pelvis to move away from his Elvis infatuation:



For adversaries, the author introduces a band of drug smugglers hiding in the same swamp. Their role was the most conventional and less satisfactory part of the novel, but they did provide fodder for lively Hollywood style action sequences that showcase McCammon talent for writing blockbuster material. I would actually love to see a movie version of the book.

In the beginning, I could spot some similarities with a novel I was reading in parallel about another war veteran ( Home by Toni Morrison) : Dan is helped at one time by a kind clergyman, he tries to help a girl in trouble (Arden), he is looking for a place to call his own where he could be respected and safe. Both novels are exposing the social injustices of their times, both use a journey and flashbacks to drive the plot forward, but the similarities stop here. McCammon has written in the form of a fast paced thriller with horror elements and the occasional flash of black humor to relieve the tension, Morrison steers closer to the classical form of Greek tragedies. Both are in my opinion succesful in their treatment, McCammon in particular, for hitting the right notes and building memorable characters while constrained by his more commercial format.

Coming on the heels of Boy's Life , this novel may feel like a step down in quality, understandable in my view, as Boy's Life is a hard act to follow. Actually, McCammon expresses his own disappointment with the publishing industry, who refused to promote his most honest and emotional book, and forced him to write copycat thrillers in the manner of Stephen King, because they sell better.

But I started running into resistance. I was told repeatedly that my fans expected a certain type of book from me, and that was the bottom line. I suggested that I might try writing under a pseudonym, but I was told that wouldn't work because my fans 'couldn't find me'. [...] I'm bashing the idea that once you do a particular kind of writing, you're expected to do that over and over until you die or - I guess - give up and stagger away.

I think it says something about the author's professionalism that, even when his heart was not into this project, he didn't shortchange his readers, and did the best job he could with the material. He even managed to make the story less about the grisly adventures of a bunch of misfits, and more about the spiritual journey they undertake. Actually, my favorite passage is from this introduction and not from the actual story, and illustrates the artistic credo of McCamon and the reason he is one of my favorite authors:

This means something to me.
It means purity and hope, and struggle when you think you can't go on another step, and laughing with bloody teeth in the fucking face of failure, and lighting a candle against the dark, and standing as firm as a human can against a howling wind, and going deep into yourself to find out what makes you tick, and what your limit of mental anguish is, and how long you can go without sleep.
All to create a world and people who did not exist before I gave them life and purpose. All to speak in my own voice about the world we live in and the people we are, and I hope you get the fact that my voice may be quiet under the voices of my people, but in no way am I silent about the things I think are meaningful, important, and valuable.
It does mean something to me. Almost everything.

Profile Image for Paul Nelson.
608 reviews137 followers
August 9, 2015
Prepare to get swept up in tidal wave of genius from Robert McCammon, this is one fucking wildly entertaining story with some of the craziest freakiest characters you will ever read about.
 
Dan Lambert turns up every morning hoping for a days work, things aren't going too good for Dan the man, he's got leukaemia and there's not many miles left on his clock. Dan's a Vietnam vet with a whole coffin load of bad memories, it cost him his marriage and he doesn't see his son because his ex thinks he's unhinged.
 
Then he gets a letter from the bank, missed payments on his truck, he just needs some time, a little extension. You just know it's not going to happen though, this meeting has got Elmore Clusterfuck written all over it and pretty soon we have one dead bank manager and one good intentioned client on the run.
 
Whilst avoiding the law Dan runs into Arden Halliday who is most definitely on a mission, she's bound for the swamp lands in search of a mythical faith healer to eradicate the birth mark that adorns her face and they fall in together like old friends. One searching and one running, helping each other.
 
And then we have the two bounty hunters chasing the 15 thousand dollar reward on Dan, hot on the trail and two more fitting rejects from Freaks R Us you won't come across again. Flint has a brother who hides from plain site and Pelvis Eisley is the king, kinda, on his first hunt and Flint has to put up with the incessant chatter, the jumpsuit and a bloody dog.
 
The stories great, you can't help but get invested in Dan's plight and you'll even come to like the bad guys, ok, not hate them let's agree on. An ever so slightly disturbing quest, all rolled up in a bizarre deviance that rarely falters onto the straight and narrow path. A fascinating tale of messed up folk Gone South.

A 4.5* Rating

Also posted at http://paulnelson.booklikes.com/post/...
Profile Image for Dave Edmunds.
231 reviews45 followers
June 22, 2020
Robert R McCammon is a prime time, top of the food chain, stellar author. The most underrated author I've ever come across. The guy can write the hell out of it and he didn't let me down in this great cat and mouse mystery.

The writing is brilliant, the characters are brilliant and the vivid and compelling language used to describe the deep south in which this book is set is...you guessed it... brilliant. I was captivated from start to finish. I can't give it enough praise.

Would I read this book again? I could quite happily read it again right now. If you're looking for something a bit different from an author at the top of his game, do yourself a favour and treat yourself with this sensational piece of quality literature.
Profile Image for Cody | CodysBookshelf.
715 reviews201 followers
December 3, 2017
I have a new favorite Robert McCammon novel. I didn’t know if anything could ever usurp Mystery Walk or Mine, but here we are. Gone South is a glorious, countrified character study; on display is one of McCammon’s most enthralling plots set against the swamps of Louisiana.

If I may humble brag for a moment, I am going to a McCammon reading/signing on Tuesday and will certainly take my first edition of this book for him to autograph. And I suspect I will be rereading it often — how could I not? A Vietnam vet’s life has crumbled to pieces, and he’s lost almost everything . . . except his will. After killing a banker in defense, he’s on the run from a couple of bounty hunters (a man with three arms and an Elvis Presley impersonator . . . trust me, it works) and in tow is a girl desperately searching for a miracle in the heart of the Bayou. McCammon’s characters are always well rounded and developed, but these folks are special. I feel McCammon created the characters first and worked from there. The result is a thrilling ride filled to the brim with people the reader can care deeply about.

Every Robert McCammon novel is an underrated masterpiece. This one especially. McCammon doesn’t get the attention he deserves, never has. Though this isn’t the horror or historical fiction he is known for, certainly check this out if you’re up for a boat ride through the swamps in search of redemption. But be careful of alligators.
Profile Image for RJ - Slayer of Trolls.
730 reviews168 followers
February 27, 2022
An ailing Vietnam veteran, on the run from the police, encounters and attracts a variety of unusual characters during his descent into the deepest parts of the South. The story feels as though it must have been personal for McCammon, similar to his previous Boy's Life although far less episodic. Extra points for his thoughtful characterization of the Vietnam veteran and also for the exploration of the subjectivity of beauty and ugliness.
Profile Image for Dean.
389 reviews114 followers
November 18, 2020
I have discovered a new great author!!
One of the best novels I've read in this year..
After having suffered a traumatic nightmare and having be poisoned, a Vietnam veteran must flee for his life!!

After him are the police and two bounty hunters!!
A joung girl joint him in his desperate quest to see for a last time his son and find a secure place to hide..
Fast-moving and populated with peculiar characters!!

Full recommendation to all my friends!!
And I have to read more by Robert R. McCammon for sure..

Happy readings and stay healthy all of you..
Dean;)
Profile Image for Klaas Bottelier.
109 reviews47 followers
May 1, 2021
This book started off with a dark sentence: "It was hell's season, and the air smelled of burning children." Now that definitely sets the tone for the first part of the book in which McCammon paints a grim picture of a Vietnam vet who struggles with life after the war, still haunted by the terrors that came with that.

Dan Lambert is a tired man with issues, he makes some big mistakes and becomes the subject of a manhunt. He makes his way south through Louisiana and meets some outlandish characters on the way.

Coming up with memorable characters is McCammon’s strong suit and the characters Dan Lambert meets are very interesting to say the least, always with very funny descriptions of how people look, to give you an idea: "She had red hair that flowed over her thick-set shoulders in a torrent of kinky curls. Her face was about as appealing as a chunk of limestone, all sharp edges and forbidding angles."

And while this wild chase continues towards the Louisiana marshlands (the bayous), an internal struggle between good and bad takes place. There are some good insights along the way, like: "It's not where you are that's important; it's where you are going that counts". And during the scenes in the Bayou I couldn’t get this Creedence Clearwater Revival song out of my head: Born on the Bayou, an excellent song and it served perfectly as a soundtrack to this action packed thriller.

All in all, this was my tenth McCammon book, one of my favorite writers, and I thought this book was a good read, not great maybe, but definitely enjoyable, and I really liked the ending of this one.
Profile Image for Char .
1,595 reviews1,442 followers
September 16, 2013
4.5 stars!

I loved this book!

It's a story of a sick, struggling Vietnam vet who "loses it" when he is denied a loan extension at the bank. That's all I'm going to say about the plot other than general observations.

The characters in the book are truly unique. I wager that you've never met characters like these in any other book, no matter how well read you may be.

This story is serious while also being quite funny and adventurous. This is also a spiritual story, which I find to be true of almost every single Robert McCammon book.

If you are a fan of Mr. McCammon, you are sure to enjoy this novel. If you have never read any of Mr. McCammon's works, this would be an excellent place to start. This story has everything: love, hate, anger, disappointment, and most importantly, redemption.

I give this novel my highest recommendation! Please do yourself a favor and read it!
Profile Image for 11811 (Eleven).
662 reviews136 followers
October 12, 2015
I think this is my new favorite McCammon novel. It's too close to call when I think about Boy's Life and Speaks the Nightbird.

I listened to the Audible edition released this past summer. If you're looking for a good audio book, you can't do much better. It may have been perfect.
Profile Image for Ed.
Author 37 books2,691 followers
January 24, 2010
Entertaining, gritty, and funny Southern Gothic/noir tale involving a Viet Nam vet who kills a banker and then chased by a pair of unusual bounty hunters for a $15K bounty. Great stuff.
Profile Image for Michael Sorbello.
Author 1 book222 followers
February 25, 2022
Suffering from cancer and the traumatic memories of his time as a soldier in Vietnam, desperate for work and dealing with the grief of losing his wife and son in a divorce brought about by his own mental breakdowns, Dan Lambert finally explodes after being provoked by a rude bank worker. After accidentally killing a man in an act of confused rage and self-defense, he spends his last few days on earth running from the law and searching for atonement for his terrible mistake. On his journey of redemption, Dan comes to the aid of a girl looking for a miracle cure for her birth defects while being pursued by a pair of crazed bounty hunters including a mentally unstable Elvis impersonator and a savage loner with the limbs of his unformed twin brother sticking out of his body.

This is my first Robert McCammon book and I'm definitely a fan of his style. I love how morally complex and likable the characters are. Making a disturbed soldier who accidentally murders an innocent person and a pair of wacky bounty hunters willing to use any means necessary to fulfill their missions extremely relatable and sympathetic is hard to do. The main characters do some horrible things throughout the book but I never once got the feeling that any of them are truly bad people. They're all decent people placed in terrible situations that lead them to make unfortunate choices to get themselves out of a bad places that have no positive options.

The character development each of them goes through in such a short period of time also feels perfectly earned and natural. My favorite of the bunch is definitely Pelvis Eisley and his adorable pet dog. The cooky Elvis impersonator was so innocently dopey and lovable, he had some hilarious and touching moments with his polar opposite partner in crime Flint Murtaugh that I couldn't help but root for him to turn his life around and come out on top in spite of his constant fumbles. The way these two misfits come together and start to rub off on each other was charming and comedic, but never felt cheesy.

Overall a great redemption story with a lot of extremely bizarre plot elements that the author somehow manages to make feel perfectly ordinary. I also like how it tackles the issues of learning to forgive crimes, rehabilitation and PTSD.
Profile Image for Димитър Цолов.
Author 28 books257 followers
September 8, 2020
Предговорът разкрива нелицеприятни истини от кухнята на месомелачката, наречена издателски бизнес. Робърт МакКамън започва работата по Безумие точно след като е завършил Момчешки живот, роман, на който е залагал много, с ясното съзнание, че е сътворил истински шедьовър, но и роман, който първоначално не среща очаквания ласкав отзвук - твърде много се различава от предишните му произведения и вече прикачения му етикет хорър писател. Следва 10 годишна пауза (1992-2002), през която на пазара не излиза нищо, подписано от него, и в този смисъл Безумие е изключително ценна книга, защото е пропила разочарованието на твореца, разкъсан в конфликта, породен от разминаването между посоката, определяна от издателите му и собствените му търсения, който все пак е трябвало да изпълни подписания договор.

Безумие по думите на МакКамън е пътешествие от ада до райската градина и ако краят определено ми дойде една идея по-захаросан и наивен, то самото пътуване наистина си го биваше. И не, не очаквайте някаква възвишена литература, а първокласен дестилиран екшън, уловил духа на Рамбо: Първа кръв от Дейвид Морел (няма как да не бъде направена аналогия с достигналия житейското дъно ветеран от Виетнамската война), скоростно преследване, абсолютно яки (и брутално-кървави) обрати и любопитни авторски решения.

Намерих това, което очаквах и търсех. В крайна сметка харесването/или не на дадена книга е крайно субективен акт. Аз доста харесах.
Profile Image for Julie .
3,989 reviews58.9k followers
January 13, 2013
Gone South by Robert R McCammon was published in 1992 is 392 pages long.

Dan Lambert is a Vietnam vet down on his luck. He's divorced, out of work, and sick. His bills are piling up and he is several months behind on his truck payment. When he goes to the bank to speak to the loan manager about working something out so he can keep his truck, he finds a world of trouble. The new bank manager won't give Dan any breathing room and Dan loses his temper. Before it's all said and done a man is killed and Dan is on the run.
Dan's plan is to leave the country. Along the way, Dan's situation goes from bad to worse. A reward has been placed for his capture and two bounty hunters, as well as cops from all over are on the lookout for Dan.
Dan also meets up with some other folks in need of help and in search of their own peace.
Arden, born with a birthmark that has made her life miserable is in search of a faith healer that will heal her. When her path intersects with Dan's ,the two of them start on a journey that will hopefully see them finding the love and purpose and peace they are looking for - If they make it there that is.

I've only read one other book by Robert R. McCammon and that was some years ago. (I do vividly remember parts of it of though .) This one sounded a lot different from anything else he had written and I wasn't really sure if I would like this one.
The author's work is often placed in the "horror" genre, but this book is NOT horror or fantasy. Actually, I don't know what genre it is really. Basically, it was just good story. Perhaps, a little adventure, some action, some criminal activity, and some drama. In the end, there is an awesome happily ever after.
I buddy read this book with my husband. We both liked it a lot. We were a little perplexed because we kept waiting for some kind of supernatural type occurance that never came. But, the story was very interesting. There as never much of a dull moment. If you like feel good stories that appeal to everyone, you will like this one.
Profile Image for Fred Forbes.
944 reviews48 followers
July 4, 2012
I think the British term is "gobsmacked"! What a book! (No I did not read it in a day, I posted a book of similar title back on April 22 and just discovered the error.) This has been my lunch book since then and I must admit it caused me to take a few longer lunch hours than normal. I picked this up at a used bookstore for $1.25 because I thought I had read "Boy's Life" by the same author. Turns out if I did it was so long ago I forgot it but it will become my new lunch book shortly based on the reviews.

At any rate, this has to be one of the most creative and well written novels I have ever read. Others have given the basic outline - Viet vet suffering from Agent Orange induced leukemia gets in trouble and goes on the run, pursued not only by the police, but by two bounty hunters. The characters are some of most unique I have encountered, at least in a single novel and the plot twists and turns will keep the reader entertained while the almost poetic writing in terms of descriptive power will provide a powerful sense of place.

It may sound grim but it is humorous in places, tender in some, uplifting in others. In short, what a great read should be. He seems to combine the writing skill of Dean Koontz with the story telling power of a Stephen King - a powerful combination.
Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,224 reviews195 followers
March 27, 2022
4.5/5

Robert McCammon is a brilliant writer. In Gone South, he dazzles with ideas, excellent pacing, and memorable characters. The opening line sent a shiver down my spine.

It was Hell’s season, and the air smelled of burning children.


The first thought? I’m not ready for that kind of thing. But I was wrong. Gone South isn’t a bleak book, quite the opposite. It’s a story about hope and redemption. It’s about a Vietnam veteran named Dan Lambert whose bad luck causes tragedy. Broke, Dan tries to negotiate with a bank’s loan manager so he can keep his pickup truck. Things don’t go as planned; they start an argument, a gun goes off, and Dan becomes a killer with a bounty on his head. A masterfully written moment of fear and fury was all it took.

Because he’s dying anyway (leukemia caused by Agent Orange during his time in Vietnam), he runs away. To see his family one last time and maybe find a quiet place. He knows one thing, that he’d just taken the first step of a journey from which there could be no return.

Two bounty hunters follow him. One is a seasoned veteran with three arms and the second is an overweight Elvis Presley impersonator. Sounds ridiculous? Probably. But that’s one of McCammon’s greatest gifts - he makes the most absurd characters human, profound, and relatable.

Take Pelvis Eisley - an Elvis impersonator who wants to get into bounty hunting. He has Elvis shrine in his apartment, wears a wig and blue suede shoes. He loves the King with all his heart. That’s all he has, his admiration for Elvis and Mama, his little dog. At a certain moment in his life, he’d decided that he wasn’t good enough and needed something much bigger to cling to and hide in. In Gone South, he’ll reconsider if he’d given up on his own talent too early in favor of the Elvis disguise because he wasn’t sure he was worth a damn.

And Flint? The experienced bounty hunter despises his life, but as a freak, he doesn’t have many options. Having an extra arm hanging from his chest and a baby-size head growing from his body didn’t exactly help him in life. People looking for sensation, their cruelty, and, ultimately, indifference made Flint mean and bitter. But not bad. He’s in it for the money, but not to hurt innocents.

Dan flees from them and the police to the bayous of Louisiana, where he meets Arden Halliday, a young woman in search of a legendary faith healer named Bright Girl. From that moment on, the story and the suspense double as the two venture into the swamps and their mysteries.

Gone South shows that life and circumstances can lead you differently than you planned, and sometimes all you can do is persevere. Life is unfair, it's hard and sometimes cruel, but people can find a way out, even if it's temporary (but what isn't?)

Gone South is a strange book. More hopeful than dark but it contains scenes of violence and mayhem. It blends action, thriller with black comedy elements. I loved it and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a memorable read.

Profile Image for Milena Tseneva.
204 reviews39 followers
February 3, 2022
Робърт МакКамън е от авторите, които не пропускам. Каквото и да е написал, имам интерес да го прочета и знам, че ще си заслужава отделеното време. „Безумие“ не е типичният криминален роман. Героите на пръв поглед изглеждат абсурдни и невъзможни в която и да е реалност, но именно в това е магията на МакКамън – той така умело пише, че само след броени страници ти вярваш на всичко.

„Безумие“ не е и одисея за няколко странника, сюжетът е много по-дълбок. Да, има го целият екшън – крадци, убийци, наркопласьори, алигатори (все пак сме в тресавищата на Луизиана), но има и онзи тънък, деликатен момент, който те докосва, защото „хубавото върви ръка за ръка с лошото“. Не всичко е само черно или бяло. Нямах търпение да разбера какво се случва на края на книгата и финалът ме остави приятно изненадана и удовлетворена.

Ако си търсите роман, който да ви провокира и да ви изкара извън стереотипите на мислене, „Безумие“ ще задоволи този глад за нещо различно. Просто се доверете на МакКамън и демоните в главата му.

Цялото ревю - тук: https://azcheta.com/bezumie-robart-ma...
Profile Image for Paul Ataua.
1,245 reviews119 followers
October 5, 2021
Dan Lambert , suffering the results of Agent Orange from his Vietnam days and on hard times, kills a man in a confused episode at the bank. It all results in him being on the run and being confronted by a range of odd characters seeking to cash in on the 15,000 dollar bounty. Great characterization of the main characters, but despite so many people I respect raving about this novel, It just didn’t grab me enough. I will get around to reading more McCammon, but this one just came in as a fairly average read.
Profile Image for Erth.
3,372 reviews
December 16, 2018
I had read Boy's Life years ago and loved it so I had high hopes for another by this author. However I found it to be very average. It did have plenty of action and a variety of interesting characters but I just never got completely captured by the story line. Some parts like the Bright Girl and Flint's deformity where a bit hard to get on board with.
Profile Image for Lance Dale.
Author 6 books12 followers
October 19, 2018
After reading this book, Robert McCammon has become one of my favorite authors. What really makes his work stand out, is his ability to create such compelling characters. He does it so well in this book, it's almost like he's just showing off. I found myself rooting for most of the characters in this book, even those with conflicting interests. Now that I've finished this, it's time to dust off my Grandma's Elvis albums and sing along like the king Pelvis Eisley, himself!
Profile Image for Dan Corey.
216 reviews22 followers
November 1, 2021
McCammon strikes again. Impeccable character work and a very well-crafted story from start to finish. I never in a million years thought I’d have this much love for a story in which one of the main characters is an Elvis impersonator; and yet, here we are.

5 stars all day long. Is there anything this man can’t do?
Profile Image for Saurabh (सौरभ).
67 reviews18 followers
July 28, 2021
This is a story of desperate characters. A poisoned ex marine on the run after killing a man in self defence, Two bounty hunters on his trail: one a freak show refugee and another a fading overweight Elvis Presley impersonator, And a girl desperately looking for a legend. All gone south in one way or another. The story propagates as their paths cross, their destinies unfurl and their lives change forever.

This is a story of guilt, injustice, cruelty, pain, suffering and of hope, love and freedom.
It's about losing yourself to the atrocities, both natural and man-made, and finally finding yourself and answering the call of destiny.

This story, although thrilling and exhilarating, will stir something deep in your heart. It will take you on the journey of a lifetime.

Even the foreword of this book is soul shattering.
Profile Image for Caley Ann (Katie).
105 reviews2 followers
May 20, 2010
I absolutely loved Gone South. Not only does it have some of the most interesting characters I've come across in a while (the bounty hunters will be on my mind for a long time!), but its a compact, concise and well-told story that tries to do a lot of things...and it works. Gone South deftly weaves together war trauma, illness, physical deformity, impersonation, humor, quest, and crime drama, and none of the aforementioned suffers from lack of attention or threatens the cohesiveness of the plot throughout the telling. Novels like this are why I loved McCammon's work. I just wish he had continued with offerings like this one!
Profile Image for Craig.
4,800 reviews103 followers
April 24, 2020
This is a terrific suspense novel of a road-trip quest featuring two of the best characters since... well, no good comparisons come to mind. The story draws you in right from the first line: "It was hell's season, and the air smelled of burning children." It's a tense and wonderfully paced story that focuses on the horrors of PTSD before it was talked about as commonly as it now is. There isn't a supernatural threat as is common in most of McCammon's other earlier works, but the gritty and realistic feeling of nearly hopeless doom is pervasive. The setting is drawn amazingly well, it's an amazing depiction of the rural South landscape and people. I recommend it highly!
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