In the '70s Bloodiest Men's Adventure Novel, Johnny Rock Wants to Feed Your Junk to Rats
The Sharpshooter #3: Blood Bath
Author: Bruno Rossi
Publisher: Leisure Books, New York
Discovered at: Used book store
The Cover Promises: When you eat here, you're family.
"He could hear Luci Sordi's terrifying screams as another spatter of tearing slugs stitched down Milano's back, almost cutting his body in half down to his blood soaked buttocks." (page 132)
"He gouges out eyes and chops off your arm piece by piece and one poor man he had his face chopped with a hatchet and his tongue sliced long ways before he cut it off with garden shears. Another man who wouldn't tell Alberto what he wanted, he buried right in our own back yard with just his head out. It was disgusting! Alberto keeps big Dobermans, man-eaters, and they shit a lot because they eat enough for three men." (page 149).
"He gouges out eyes and chops off your arm piece by piece and one poor man he had his face chopped with a hatchet and his tongue sliced long ways before he cut it off with garden shears. Another man who wouldn't tell Alberto what he wanted, he buried right in our own back yard with just his head out. It was disgusting! Alberto keeps big Dobermans, man-eaters, and they shit a lot because they eat enough for three men." (page 149).American men love bloody revenge so much that at some low points in our history they have even resorted to reading books to get their fix. Fortunately, today's gentleman can sate this lust with a jaunt to the Redbox for the latest Snipesploitation classic.
But before direct-to-DVD and video games, it was up to novelists like "Bruno Rossi" -- certainly a pseudonym -- to chum the waters of masculine entertainment.
And chum Rossi did. In his Blood Bath we meet Johnny Rock, a man on a mission: "hunting down and personally murdering anyone even distantly related to the hated Mafia."
Rossi is so focused on sadistic mayhem that he never explains why this is Rock's mission, or even why he goes by "The Sharpshooter" instead of "Johnny Rock," a perfectly badass name already -- even if it does suggest a port-a-potty shaped like Rockefeller
In Blood Bath, Johnny Rock dedicates himself to brining down the powerful, respected mobster Lorenzo Torrielli, whose description was already hilariously dated, even in 1973:
"Torrielli was one of the most powerful Mafioso in the East and for all intents and purposes as legal as President Nixon."
In the first chapter alone, the following violent acts transpire. Note the "House That Jack Built" quality to these events:
- Teensy kittens get eaten by rats.
- The legs of gangster (captured but not yet killed by Rock) are gnawed to bone by those same rats.
- Rock engineers Chinese water torture by dripping blood from the rat-eaten corpse into a bathtub.
- The blood in bathtub is licked up by the cats who have managed to escape the rats.
- After poking half-eaten face of corpse with a stick, Jessie Armstrong gets kidnapped by Johnny Rock.
Those rats are a favorite motif of Rossi's. They gnaw at flesh throughout the book, showing up about as often as these other key features of Rossi's prose:
Risible Mafia dialogue:
"Listen to me, you fuckin' birdbrains. I ain't scared to say who I hit and I ain't gonna' say I hit when I don't. Knock it off!"
Descriptions cribbed from that novel Snoopy's been working on:
"It was so pitch black it was spooky."
"In his artillery case he had his faithful M79 Army grenade launcher with plenty of ammo, two Marine Corps sniper rifles, and his trusty Israeli UZI submachine gun. The latter piece could stitch a man's head from his neck with such lovely precision the severed skull would appear to have been sliced off with a fine surgeon's scalpel."
Perhaps the best way to suggest the brute terribleness of Blood Bath is to itemize its most impressive bursts of nastiness, chapter by chapter. Please note that I'm skipping over many of the more workaday shootings and bludgeonings and blowing-uppenings.