David Morrell Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

David Morrell is often considered the father of the modern action thriller. He revels in that identification, and action sequences are clearly his greatest strength. His novels set a relentless pace and are filled with chase scenes, violent confrontations, and a large body count. Morrell continually tries to speed the pacing of his novels. His prose, especially since the mid-1990’s, has been stripped to the bare essentials to keep the story moving. His chapters are short and often end with cliffhangers. Morrell’s success with action novels has helped usher in an age of hyper-fast thrillers that make the spy novels of the 1980’s look slow.

Morrell’s works are generally not acclaimed by literary critics, as is typical of plot-driven novels, but his books consistently make best-seller lists and his readers are enthusiastic. It is telling that when thriller writers started organizing themselves, they immediately invited Morrell to help. He sat on the steering committee that formed the International Thriller Writers and was elected copresident. Within that community, his work is highly regarded.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Faludi, Susan. Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man. New York: Harper Perennial, 2000. Contains a section focusing on First Blood and on Morrell’s father/son theme.

Morrell, David. Black Evening. New York: Warner Books, 1999. A collection of Morrell’s stories, each with a personal introduction by the author. These contain a wealth of biographical information.

Morrell, David. The David Morrell Network. http://www .davidmorrell.net. Morrell’s official Web site. Good resource with considerable biographical information. Allows readers to e-mail questions to Morrell.

Morrell, David. Fireflies: A Father’s Tale of Love and Loss. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1988. This book on the death of Morrell’s son reveals why the author’s themes changed in midcareer.

Morrell, David. Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 2002. The best work for understanding how Morrell writes. Has chapters on plot, characters, research, viewpoint, the writing business, and the Rambo films. Contains considerable biographical material.

Morrell, David. Nightscape. London: Headline Book Publishing, 2004. A short-story collection with personal, often biographical, story introductions by Morrell. The general introduction has information about Morrell’s mother that is seldom seen elsewhere.