Archive for Brian Garfield

Death Sentence (1975 Novel)

Posted in Death Sentence (Novel) with tags , , on July 12, 2013 by Last Road Reviews



*** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- 1975

Written by- Brian Garfield

Picking up after Death Wish, Paul Benjamin is now living in Chicago and is continuing is one man war on street crime.

Death Sentence has more action than Death Wish, but at times it left be feeling cold as through a lot of the book there is no real story it’s just Paul killing thugs, but the 2nd half is when the book begins to take a deeper meaning.

Death Sentence does pose the question on would vigilante justice lead to more crime? When would it go from wanting to do the right thing to murder? And where does it end? Will a simple dispute lead to murder? Vigilante justice is a complicated thing; while the law should handle crime, but what about if there is nothing the law could do? So in that aspect I kinda agree with vigilante justice, but soon enough someone accused of a crime would be killed and being accused doesn’t make you guilty. It would also lead to people killing each other because they didn’t like the way someone looked at them or a parking dispute and while these things happen odds are it would become more common. But even with that said I don’t fully disagree with vigilante justice, but Brian Garfield does raise some good points.

While reading Death Sentence and Death Wish for that matter it’s hard to disagree with vigilante justice even if that wasn’t the intentions of Brian Garfield. The justice system is flawed and sometimes fails us. How many times have you picked up a newspaper or turned on the news and someone is arrested for a violent crime that had a long rap sheet? In cases like that its hard to argue against it, but violence just leads to more violence. Like in the book civilians begin to arm themselves and one incident gets a bakery owner and some of his workers killed because he wanted to be like the vigilante and with vigilante justice that’s exactly what would happen as people would think they’re Dirty Harry.

There is a subplot of a 2nd vigilante however he isn’t as careful as Paul and an innocent person gets killed in the crossfire and if people took the law into their own hands this would happen for sure. I really loved the themes in Death Sentence, but the novel as a whole never worked as well as it had the potential to. Despite my problems it was still an enjoyable read for the most part. Like the original, pacing can be an issue, but the book works on a deeper and more powerful level only hindered by the pacing.

In 2007 this novel was adapted for the screen starring Kevin Bacon. However outside of the title the film is nothing like the book outside of a vigilante and one has to wonder why bother paying royalty rights even you aren’t gonna use any plots from the book.






Death Wish (1972 Novel)

Posted in Death Wish Novel with tags , , , on July 11, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


**** Out of 5

Written by- Brian Garfield

Release Date- 1972

When most people think of Death Wish the first thought that comes to mind is Charles Bronson killing various thugs, but before the film there was the 1972 novel written by Brian Garfield. More often than not the book is normally better than the film, but not in all cases and in regards to Death Wish I think it’s sort of a tie; there are certain aspects of the novel that are better than the film, but there are also things better about the film.

Before I get into all that I’ll touch upon some of the differences. For starters in the book the main character’s name is Paul Benjamin whereas in the film it’s Paul Kersey. Also in the novel Paul is an accountant whereas in the film he’s an architect. He’s also described as balding a little and a bit overweight, which wasn’t the case with Charles Bronson. In the novel Paul’s wife’s name is Esther whereas in the film it’s Joanna. Right there are the biggest differences between the two. The relationship between Paul and his wife are also different. Like the film, Paul’s wife doesn’t really play a huge part, but in the film it’s a loving relationship. In the novel they care about each other and there is love, but they are together more so than being alone. But they do care for one another, but the relationship is different than what we briefly see in the film.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the novel and in all honesty it was better than I expected, but there are some pacing issues. There are too many pages of Paul at work, which quite frankly aren’t all that interesting. These pages often slow the pacing down a little too much. There is also a long chapter of Paul out in Arizona, which also really zaps the pace of the book. I also felt that way about the film as well. Jainchill unlike the film is only mentioned here and Paul gets a gun on his own rather than from Jainchill. I understand the need of these pages in regards to setting up the change in Paul and also an attempt at a normal life, but in my personal opinion some of these pages could have been edited.

Now for where the book really succeeds and where it’s better than the film is we are able to get into Paul’s thoughts. Everywhere he goes he sees people differently. He wonders if they’re criminals; he sees a black man standing outside and wonders if he was one of the attackers on his wife and daughter. Paul gets very paranoid and everywhere he goes he has a fear of being attacked and like I said everyone he sees in his mind is a potential criminal. I just simply love these pages as it really sets up the change from regular guy to vigilante and really gets the reader into the mind of a man breaking down due to the attack on his family, his paranoia and fear.

When Paul ends up becoming a vigilante he doesn’t enjoy the killing and seems detached from it. Whereas in the film Paul seems to enjoy his role of vigilante. While the film wasn’t overly graphic, most of the shootings in the book are quick and to the point. Really only 2 were more detailed. Like the film, Paul does go around looking for thugs and even rents a car to use as bait (this was seen in Death Wish 3 where Paul buys a car to use as bait, though no idea if Death Wish 3 got that from the book). The police investigation plays a part, but it was a little more used in the film. Ochoa the cop assigned to the case plays a very minor role in the book.

The ending of the film was a bit absurd how the cops let him go. While public sympathy would be in Paul’s corner an arrest would still be made but I can buy into the idea. The book ending to me was its biggest flaw. It just sort of ends. There was no real closure and it almost seems as if Brian Garfield went over his word limit. While not terrible it just sort of ends with no real closure