Paul Nyerick served in Vietnam as a Marine Corps forward observer. He began writing poetry with his multiple sclerosis support group. Windfalling (Outskirts Press, 302 pp., $17.95, paper; $2.99, Kindle) is an action adventure novel which pulls from Nyerick’s imagination and from flashbacks to his experiences in the Vietnam War and firefighting in California.
The book starts off with a bang. By page ten there’s been“a plane crash, a wildland fire, a mine collapse, “ex-KGB thugs with automatic weapons.” And a poisonous snake.
In almost every way, Windfalling reminds me of dozens of boys’ adventure books I read in the 1950s. All the main characters are larger than life, and they have amazing talents with language, derring-do and technology, both ancient and modern. There’s even a larger-than-life dog hero, a malamute named Nakai.
A book like this has to have a bad guy who is worth doing battle with, and it does: Harlan Diamond, a megalomaniac billionaire who wants to be immortal and take over the world. He makes Daddy Warbucks seem a piker. Diamond was a Marine company commander in 1969 Vietnam. Two other main characters were in his company, and were screwed over by him.
“Jerry, E. D. and a couple of Marine Corps buddies who fought together in Vietnam, along with two renowned anthropologists, scramble across southern California and Baja, Mexico,” Nyerick tells us, “searching for an Aztec Pyramid and the Crown of Knowledge.” They get some serious help from a 500-year-old Spanish priest, Father Diego Della Vega.
At one point a character states, “This place reminded me of a Tarzan movie.” I’d just been thinking that myself. The whole book, in fact. reminds me of a Tarzan movie.
Late in the book I read: “This trip has been filled with unfathomable mysteries none of us could possibly explain.” No kidding.
The main event the book leads us to is the total eclipse of the sun. What happens to the evil Harlan Diamond.? Does he get his just desserts? “The Crown of Knowledge has its ways to get even,” Nyerick writes. “He needs to marinate in that cosmic stew for a while longer.”
Readers looking for a book in which there is a lot of Vietnam War action, along with a lot of mind-blowing action adventure, should read Windfalling. There is not another quite like it.