Burning His Bridges

David Morrell's latest thriller is disappointingly predictable.

Watch an AXN movie or read Morrell's latest ten-part creation "Burnt Sienna"...the two are not far apart.

Thirty seven year old ex-fighter pilot and established landscape artist Chase Malone detests taking orders. Therefore, when Derek Bellasar's men mow down his house on the peaceful, secluded island of Cozumel for refusing to accept a commission to paint Bellasar's wife, he's all geared up to take his revenge.

Enter Jeb Wainwright, Malone's pal, also an ex-fighter pilot, now working with the CIA. He urges Malone to team up with his "company", the better to capture Bellasar, one of the world's three richest individuals and (as if that weren't enough of a crime) a dealer in black market weapons and bio-warfare. Malone accepts Jeb's proposal and is flown to Bellasar's private estates in Nice, where he meets the beautiful Sienna - Bellasar's wife, whose portrait he sets out to draw.

Time is a-ticking, as the mentally disturbed Bellasar is known to have his women painted and framed prior to having them killed. Death is the price they pay for growing old on him. Malone has not only to rescue the damsel in distress, whom he has predictably begun to love, but also to expose Bellasar to the CIA by giving them information he has picked up during his stay at his home. Death is not an option for him.

Against all odds, several chases and narrow escapes later, good triumphs over evil, but not without being tainted. It is the conclusion that gives the novel its realistic touch.

Malone is the best developed of Morrell's characters. Bellasar, Wainwright, even Sienna are flat stereotypes thrown in to hold up the thin plot. Lots of explosions, gun shots and blow-ups are seen here, all described with great accuracy by a writer known for his easy narration of scenes of pursuit, escape and destruction, be they on the ground or in the air.

The novel is racy. It cuts out on boring details and skims over emotions, thereby holding one's interest, but those who want a real taste of Morrell might want to try "Extreme Denial" or "The League Of Night And Fog".

This article was first published on 03 Oct 2000.