Friday, November 13, 2015

Forgotten Books: Night Calls the Green Falcon - Robert McCammon

I'm fudging a little this week since "Night Calls the Green Falcon" is a novella, not a novel, but it's been my favorite of Robert McCammon's work since I first read it 25 years ago, it's available by itself as an e-book, and when I reread it recently, it held up very well. So I thought I might as well say a few words about it and maybe inspire some of you to read it.

"Night Calls the Green Falcon" was first published in 1988 in the anthology SILVER SCREAM, edited by David J. Schow. I had a copy of that book but never got around to reading it. I did, however, read this story when it came out a couple of years later in McCammon's collection BLUE WORLD. That's a great collection, but "Night Calls the Green Falcon" is the real stand-out as far as I'm concerned.

Creighton Flint (real name Creighton Boomershine) is a washed-up actor, a former champion athlete from the Midwest who went to Hollywood in the early Fifties and starred in four movie serials during the fading days of that film genre, until a tragedy cut short his career. He played the masked crimefighter known as the Green Falcon and still has the costume from those serials, even though it's not in very good shape. Neither is Flint, who now lives in a rundown apartment house in a bad neighborhood in Hollywood.

A serial murderer known in the papers as the Flip-Top Killer has been preying on street people in the neighborhood, and when a friend of Flint becomes one of the victims, he sets out to track down the murderer. But he puts on the uniform of the Green Falcon to do so, which attracts unwanted attention and complicates Flint's quest for justice—which is also a quest to reclaim his lost celluloid heroism.

Things play out about like you'd expect in this novella, and McCammon opens it with a dream scene, a technique I don't like, but other than that it's very well written and the pace is absolutely relentless. More than that, and most of all, it's an unabashed love letter to serials, comic books, pulps, and all the other things that helped make so many of us what we are today, and I don't mind admitting I was a little misty-eyed when I got to the end. To quote a wise man from Alvin, Texas, I miss the old days, and I sort of miss 'em even more after reading "Night Calls the Green Falcon". McCammon's a fine writer and I still have several of his books that I haven't read yet, but I doubt if any of them will top this one for me.


Anonymous said...

Long ago I read "Night Calls the Green Falcon" out of my new copy of Blue World while on a crowded plane flight.
When I got to the part where the protagonist hears the voices of the kids calling to the Green Falcon, the little boy seated next to me put his hand on my arm and asked me if I was okay.

John Hocking

Bill Crider said...

I still have the copy of BLUE WORLD that I bought when it came out, and I love that story. You're right: Time to read it again.

Bill O said...

Probably intentional that Creighton was Lon Chaney Jr's real first name.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I read it two years ago (BLUE WORLD) and loved the story too. Great stuff!

Jeff M.

John Swain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Swain said...

I read that when it first came out and it blew me away. To this day I'm amazed that the film rights were not snapped up.

George said...

I've always enjoyed Robert McCammon's work. I have BLUE WORLD so I'll give "Night Calls the Green Falcon" a try this weekend!

Charles Gramlich said...

Absolutely love it. The BLue World collection is one of my favorites.

Mathew Paust said...

Okay, my goodness yes! I hope it's on Kindle.

Mathew Paust said...

It is. It's mine! Thanks. Tonite will go fast.

Todd Mason said...

I'll put in a good word for SILVER SCREAM, the David Schow anthology where this first appeared, which is pretty brilliant mix of old and new...this book also introduced "Night They Missed the Horror Show" by Joe Lansdale...

Everyone should give it a look...

Silver Scream ed. David J. Schow (Dark Harvest 0-913165-27-1, Jul ’88 [Jun ’88], $19.95, 369pp, hc) Anthology of 21 horror stories dealing with theatre and tv.
7 · Introduction · Tobe Hooper · in
15 · Preflash · John M. Ford · ss *
33 · Cuts · F. Paul Wilson · nv *
49 · The Movie People · Robert Bloch · ss F&SF Oct ’69
59 · Sinema · Ray Garton · nv *
95 · Son of Celluloid · Clive Barker · nv Clive Barker’s Books of Blood v3, Sphere, 1984
127 · The Answer Tree · Steven R. Boyett · nv *
149 · Night They Missed the Horror Show · Joe R. Lansdale · ss *
163 · More Sinned Against · Karl Edward Wagner · ss In a Lonely Place, Scream/Press, 1984
175 · Return of the Neon Fireball · Chet Williamson · ss *
187 · Night Calls the Green Falcon · Robert R. McCammon · nv *
225 · Bargain Cinema · Jay Sheckley · ss Night Cry Win ’85
231 · Lifecast · Craig Spector · ss *
245 · Sirens · Richard Christian Matheson · vi *
247 · Hell · Richard Christian Matheson · ss Scars, Scream/Press, 1987
251 · A Life in the Cinema · Mick Garris · ss *
267 · Splatter: A Cautionary Tale · Douglas E. Winter · ss Masques #2, ed. J. N. Williamson, 1987
279 · Film at Eleven · John M. Skipp · ss *
295 · The Show Goes On · Ramsey Campbell · ss Dark Companions, Macmillan, 1982
307 · The Cutter · Edward Bryant · ss *
319 · Pilgrims to the Cathedral · Mark Arnold · nv *
353 · Endsticks · David J. Schow · aw