Title: The Snake
Author: John Godey
Release date: January 1st, 1978
‘The Snake’ by John Godey is a book that completely came onto my radar by random. Through Instagram, I’ve become friends with Dustin, aka postorgasmicstressdisorder. Through Dustin, I’ve connected with James aka The Black Wyvern Bookstore, here in Edmonton. James is someone who helps you find books as well as sells books. He’s a fantastic guy and a great resource. So, through all of that, for Christmas 2020, I wanted to surprise Dustin and get him a few books from The Black Wyvern. One such book was ‘The Snake.’ He raved about it. So, I grabbed the Kindle version and wow. I’m glad I did.
What I liked: John Godey is actually the pen name of Morton Freedgood. He passed away in 2006, but as Godey had a long career of writing and releasing mystery and thriller books. His most famous or well known release is perhaps ‘The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,’ which was made into a movie in 1974 and remade in 2009, starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta. His chosen genre of mystery/thriller is on full display here with ‘The Snake.’
The premise is simple. A man is mugged and killed in Central Park late one night. Carrying a box, it falls and breaks open. Within – an eleven foot Black Mamba. Thus begins a race to find the snake, as more and more people inadvertently come into contact with it and don’t survive.
I think one of the things I loved most about this book was the fact that it was released in 1978. It’s hard to think back on how simple life was back then versus now. Hell, I wasn’t born for three more years. But think about it. No internet. No cell phones. Information wasn’t readily available or shared online. Faxes needed to be sent. Phone booths were the nearest “cell phone” option. Because of that, ‘The Snake’ becomes elevated as the easy logistics that we’d resort to in 2021 just didn’t exist.
The story follows along as a herpetologist is brought on board to try and find the snake, but as the body count mounts, public pressure overcomes anything he suggests. Godey does a splendid job of making the herpetologist a caring, well-educated character. One who waxes about man’s role in vilifying the snake but also how through man’s own deforestation, climate change and misinformation on snakes themselves, have worked to increase contact and deadly actions.
The scenes with the snake are truly unnerving. I’m a massive reptile fan, but whoa momma did Godey make them nerve wracking and tension filled.
The conclusion is what you’d expect to happen, but even when we get there, you’ll see how well Godey has wiggled in unexpected results. I gotta stay spoiler free but I was smiling at the end.
What I didn’t like: I’d say my biggest annoyance here was the love story that seemed to be tossed in between our herpetologist and a reporter. Godey tried to give it some ‘meant to be’ sub plot but it was incredibly weak and when the two characters were together the dialogue was brutal and laughable.
I also wasn’t a fan of the Church that was involved. I understood why, what with the evil symbolism of the snake and how the Church worked to get people amped up, but overall, until the ending it was a distraction.
Why you should buy this: This book won’t be for everyone. It’s set in 1978 and as such some ‘older’ un-PC language exists. As well, if a book that can be completely summed up as “a snake in Central Park” doesn’t excite you then I’d suggest you’ll DNF this.
If that line of a snake in Central Park in 1978 fires you up and makes you intrigued? You’re in for one heck of a fun time and a book that I’m simply shocked wasn’t made into a movie. I had a blast with this one and if you’re looking for a fun story with some fantastic scenes filled with dread and tension, ‘The Snake’ will deliver.