Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Mafia Was Running Scared

In Jon Messmann's third Revenger novel for Signet, THE VENDETTA CONTRACT, published in 1974 (can you imagine what paperback book shelves must have looked like in 1974?), the Revenger is Ben Martin, who previously killed a bunch of mobsters in New York and Chicago, and is now living under the radar in a small town about 25 miles from Indianapolis. He has a steady girl, unusual for the genre; most of the heroes tend to be loners who can't chance caring about anyone, lest she be targeted by his enemies.

THE VENDETTA CONTRACT actually has two points of view, the other being Corbett, a high-level assassin hired by the mob to rub out Martin, once they learn where he's hiding out. The book's second half describes their cat-and-mouse chase across the eastern United States, as the Revenger blows away a couple of mobsters in Indy, and then heads to Pennsylvania to target the Mafia there with hopes of luring Corbett into his rifle sight.

A pretty decent book with the caveat that Messmann's prose is overly flowery. We're reading this for the action and the fantasy, not for lengthy introspective passages. The book is only 158 pages, which is a plus.

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