One of the most complicated forms of humor is satire as it is not only humor for humor's sake but also a comment on a social or political landscape that pertains to a particular era. In addition, effective satires point out the stupidity and ridiculousness of certain situations and individuals.
Looking back to the pre -Glasnost era, Sam Moffie has fully grasped this complexity with his recent wildly zany, raucous and sagacious fifth novel, To Kill the Duke, in which he skillfully concocts a bizarre alternative world. He even manages to pepper in some hilarious nonsensical expressions uttered by some of his Russian characters such as “toughsti shitski” that will be long remembered by his readers.
What really brings this book together is the “cool” interplay of Moffie's two plots, one involving a determined Russian plan to assassinate the Hollywood movie icon and American hero John Wayne with another that is based on the 1956 production of the barbarian epic called The Conqueror starring the Duke (John Wayne) and Susan Hayward that is to be filmed in southern Utah. Howard Hughes provides the financing, Dick Powell is the co-producer and Oscar Millard is the screenwriter. Also included in the yarn is Johnny Stompanato (Stomp) who was a bodyguard for gangster Mickey Cohen and who had a tumultuous relationship with Turner.
Somehow, even with all of the activity going on, Moffie is able to mesh it together, although for readers unfamiliar with the writing of Moffie, you need a great deal of stamina to keep up with this manic rollicking satire that contains large doses of unpredictable and wild story telling. And despite the weirdness of his Russian spy squad of Zavert, Boris Gila, Alexei Aleksandra and Ivan Viznapu, the eccentric Howard Hughes and the fidgety Powell, or perhaps because of these characters, the result is a shrewd wickedly delightful hilarious take on Hollywood, screenwriters, actors and other nutty doings. Incidentally, for those of you who are not movie buffs, The Conqueror turned out to be a very bad movie that tarnished the reputation of Millard and was a film that was probably more famous for filming in a nuclear bomb testing site as many members of the cast and crew succumbed to early cancer-related death. Insofar as the plot to kill Wayne, apparently Joseph Stalin was so outraged at Wayne for his anti-communism that it is reported he did in fact plot to murder him according to a biography of Wayne.
In the end, Moffie has fully dealt with hyperbole with both hands as he deftly choreographs his many characters making for some goofy moments as well as comical Russian intrigue creating a first-rate satirical farce. It is little wonder why Moffie has won awards for his previous four novels that have garnered thousands of fans.Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Sam Moffie