Saturday, March 15, 2008

Keepers Of Death

The Butcher is back in this 1972 adventure, only the third in the series, and obviously published before Pinnacle started getting more creative with its cover art (it actually looks a lot like a Matt Helm cover). Bucher, the only man to leave the Mafia and live to tell about it, the Mafia's former head of East Coast operations who got a conscience and split, a ruthless killer who agreed to work for a secret government agency named White Hat as a way to repay the world for his evil deeds as a member of the Mob.

With a $250,000 bounty on his head, collectible by any gunsel who murders him, the Butcher trots the globe in KEEPERS OF DEATH on a White Hat assignment to find a East German scientist named Karl Phiefen, who defected to the U.S. to continue his work designing outer space vehicles, but has since gone missing, along with his 22-year-old daughter Klara, who may have been kidnapped from the Mexican university at which she's studying. The Butcher's path leads him first to a Tennessee commune, where the sex-mad hippies are growing marijuana for the Mafia. Impersonating a Mob hitman he killed in self-defense, Bucher follows a strange trail from Atlanta to Stockholm to Rome to New York back to the commune, as he tries to figure out what dope-smoking hippies, mob assassins and an East German scientist all have in common.

An entertaining novel with plenty of action, though the Butcher is absurdly irresistible to anyone in a skirt. Author Stuart Jason (or whomever) doesn't seem to be the most enlightened man on the subject of women's lib, particularly by 1972, though he was probably delivering what the target audience wanted. Still, the female characters seem like they stepped out of 1962.

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