The Werewolf’s Tale – Richard Jaccoma
Fawcett Gold Medal – 1988
“This book is quite awful. It’s about a New York detective who turns into a werewolf while investigating a team of vampires, a Nazi occultist from Atlantis and the mummy of an Egyptian black magician. There’s a few references to Lovecraftian entities, and the werewolf detective has sex with a lot of women. This might have worked as a series of comic books, but there’s too much stuff going on for this to function as a cohesive novel.”
I wrote the above paragraph in August, right after finishing The Werewolf’s Tale. Looking back, I think I might have been overly harsh. I had just finished reading Bari Wood’s excellent The Tribe, and that novel had enough in common with this one to make Jaccoma’s book seem awful in comparison. They’re very different books, but they’re set in the same place and both feature Rabbis as important characters, and I reckon these similarities made the shift from grim thriller to ludicrous adventure novel seem extra jarring.
The Werewolf’s Revenge – Richard Jaccoma
Fawcett Gold Medal – 1991
By the time I got around to reading the sequel, The Werewolf’s Revenge, I found it much easier to enjoy Jaccoma’s supernatural parody of noir fiction. The events in here are even more sensational than the first novel, but I knew what to expect by this point and was able to enjoy the ride.
Honestly, it’s only been a few months since I read The Werewolf’s Revenge, but I can’t say that I remember much about the plot. It’s more of the same crap. It features all the characters from the first novel (the Atlantean sorcerer, the evil Egyptian mummy, the sexy Jewish vampire, the sexy Nazi werewolf…) but this one also features Jacques De Molay of Knight’s Templar fame, along with some Satyrs and other mythical beasts. Oh yeah, and at one point, one of the characters finds the Necronomicon. While I can’t remember the precise details of the complicated plot, I do remember enjoying it far more than I had expected. It’s not high literature, but it’s not unbearable.
Things got a bit uncomfortable for me when a character called John Weymouth-Smythe appears in the story. I recognised that name from somewhere. It turned out to be from the inside cover of the paperback I was holding. Aside from the two Werewolf books I’ve just reviewed, Richard Jaccoma had only written one other novel, the dubiously titled “Yellow Peril” The Adventures of Sir John Weymouth-Smythe. It quickly became apparent that while Yellow Peril and The Werewolf’s Tale are unrelated works, The Werewolf’s Revenge is actually a linking sequel to both novels. I had been looking forward to finishing the pair of Werewolf novels and being done with Richard Jaccoma, but when I saw Yellow Peril being described as an erotic occult adventure about a secret agent fighting satanic Nazis, I knew that I was going to have to complete the trilogy. It was quite annoying though because it was actually written way before both of the books I had already read, and I hate reading a series out of sequence.
Yellow Peril: The Adventures of Sir John Weymouth-Smythe – Richard Jaccoma
Berkley Books – 1980 (First published in 1978)
Ok, it’s currently 2020, so let’s just address the obvious racism straight away. This is clearly an outdated piece of writing that crosses all kinds of boundaries that don’t need to be crossed. Richard Jaccoma actually apologizes for the racist attitudes of the book’s characters in a short preface, but this apology falls short of what we’d expect today. While it is the characters in the book who voice racist opinions, the author was ultimately marketing these ideas as entertainment, regardless of whether he believed in them himself. This book was written 42 years ago though, and I don’t think that Richard Jaccoma was intentionally being a horrible person. The guy went on to write 2 books about a Nazi-hunting werewolf, and it’s actually the Jewish and Chinese characters in this book who actually turn out to be good, so I reckon he’s probably not a bigoted hatemonger.
Racism aside, is Yellow Peril any good? It’s pretty much the same thing as the Werewolf books, but here the narrator is British rather than American. He doesn’t have any super powers, but he works alongside the head of the Golden Dawn, a crew of Satanic Nazi paedophiles, a horde of Yetis and some very strange Asian occultists. The conflict in this novel is driven by the quest for the Spear of Destiny, and yes, I mean the version of the Spear of Destiny written about by Trevor Ravenscroft. The narrator is a bit of an idiot, and the story itself is pretty dumb, but it wasn’t absolutely horrible to read.
Richard Jaccoma used to work as the managing editor for Screw Magazine, a pornographic weekly newspaper, and he wrote the screenplay for a 1977 porno called Punk Rock. Yellow Peril advertises itself as “A porno-fairytale-occult-thriller” on the cover, but I felt like it actually had less sex than the Werewolf books. I skimmed over the sex-scenes, as I wanted to get through this quickly, but I couldn’t help but notice that one of these scenes contains a lengthy description of the protagonist anally raping an evil Nazi. As soon as he finishes raping her, another Nazi, who has been peeping on them, cums all over the rapists back.
I’ll just leave it at that. The fact that these books aren’t hugely popular isn’t really surprising.