mine

Robert R. McCammon
Pocket Books
1990

Mary Terrell, aka Mary Terror, is a scarred survivor of the radical ’60s.  Once a member of the fanatical Storm Front Brigade, Mary now lives in a hallucinatory world of memories, guns, and murderous rage.  Laura Clayborne is a successful journalist, wife of a stockbroker, with a BMW and a house in the right Atlanta suburb.  Her marriage foundering. Laura hopes that her newborn son David will make her life everything it ought to be.  When Mary Terror steals Laura’s baby from the hospital, a journey of the damned begins – through an America of wandering misfits, seedy motel rooms, ’60s radicals disguised by plastic surgery, and a former FBI man out for personal vengeance.  As Laura Clayborne closes in on Mary Terror, she will have to think like her, act like her…even kill like her.

For the longest time, Robert R. McCammon’s novels were of the type where I would start reading, then stop and lose track of sometime shortly later.  Granted, I was much younger – in my mind-teens – and far less focused on reading than I am now in my later years.  It wasn’t so much the style or competency of his writing that bored me; far from it.  At first, it was just the fact that he wasn’t Stephen King, who I read exclusively at that point.  Then I went through that interesting “good Christians don’t concern themselves with fiction literature” era in the 1990s, but the less said about that one the better.

Anyway, I decided to revisit some discarded attempts at reading Robert R. McCammon’s body of work, with Mine being the only one I somehow didn’t manage to discard in-between then and now.

Published in 1990, Mine tells the tale of a crazy old former 60s political radical hippie (is there any other type, really?) who went by numerous aliases since she went underground, but was known to her former radicals-in-arms as Mary Terror, and was responsible for many acts of cold-blooded murder.  Now, in the tail-end of the 80s, due in part to an obscure ad in the back of an issue of the Rolling Stone magazine – and also acid, there was acid involved don’tchaknow – she thinks the old gang of police murderin’ radicals are being drawn back together by their charismatic leader named Lord Jack.  But before she can meet her former lover, she needs to pick up a house-warming gift: a baby boy.  Only, Mary didn’t count on the mother of the stolen kid to come after her.  Not to mention the shock she’s going to get when she discovers that the world in which she once dwelt not only doesn’t exist anymore, but probably never did to begin with.  And as she crosses the country, mother of the little baby boy in pursuit, things are going to get messy.

As a story, Mine does go along at a pretty fast pace.  The writing is very cinematic in style, with some rather chilling glimpses into the mind of someone who can only be described as completely bat-guano insane.  It took me a while to make it through this book, simply because, at this stage in my life, I can’t seem to stomach scenes of which children are put in life-threatening danger, let alone a newborn baby.  Mind you, nothing bad really befalls the kid physically; but still, the thought of having an innocent baby in the hands of someone like Mary Terror (who has earned her nickname, as we come to find out throughout the course of the novel) just…ugh.

Overall, although Mine was a decent enough thriller that managed to keep my attention for the most part, it’s Dean Koontz and John Saul level stuff, in that it’s good for a few hours of escapism and not much more beyond that.