Play Manchurian For Me

Well here I am with my website open, the screen ready to receive my words of wisdom, or at the least, words of interest! Ah but what to write about? The latest book I’ve been reading? The fact that I am once again very slowly moving toward getting back to work on The Other Side of the Sky? Very slowly.

So let’s go back to the reading, which I’ve been doing a lot of. In fact, I Just finished Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate, a classic from the fifties. The reason I was reading that was because I had just finished Dean Koontz’s recent five book Jane Hawk series: The Silent Corner, The Whispering Room, The Crooked Staircase, The Forbidden Door, and The Night Window. Read them all pretty much back to back. They’re huge books, but riveting, and a key component in them is a sort of brainwashing technique that the evil cabal trying to take over the world has used on various Persons of Importance. For the most part these persons seem perfectly normal, their regular old selves. But should someone come by and utter the phrase “Play Manchurian for me”, they fall into a trance-like state where they’ll do anything they are asked to do. Including kill themselves, though more often it was others they were killing …

The use of that triggering phrase then spiked my interest in reading The Manchurian Candidate, since it had obviously informed Koontz’s novels. It was one I’d long heard of but never actually read. When I couldn’t find it at the library, I purchased my own used copy from Amazon. After reading it, I rented the 1962 movie version of the novel starring Frank Sinatra, and Angela Lansbury. It was all quite fascinating.

For those of you who don’t know, the “Manchurian Candidate” was a soldier in the Korean War, captured and then brainwashed/hypnotized by his captors to carry out assassinations when he was confronted with the appropriate trigger. In the Koontz book it was the phrase “Play Manchurian for me.”

One thing of particular interest to me with the Koontz series was that the final volume of the series ended with the big showdown between the competing forces gathering around the Casa Grande area in Arizona and moving on to Phoenix, which isn’t all that far from Tucson. It was fun to read about saguaros and cholla and desert and places I’ve actually been.

Yes, it’s true these books aren’t for everyone, and I’m not really much of a horror fan, but Koontz is such a splendid wordsmith, character creator and plotter, that I’ve been pretty much entranced by all his works. Plus they almost always have dogs in them. And this series was no exception. 😊

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