Sunday, May 11, 2008

For A Cop, He Has Style

Well, that's what the back cover blurb says, but, actually, Stryker is an ex-cop, and his style I could best characterize as "blunt." I don't know what happened in the first Stryker novel, but in #2, COP-KILL, published by Pinnacle in 1973, Colin MacGregor Stryker is pretty pissed off. Somewhere along the line, presumably in the previous novel, a thug named Kell killed Stryker's wife and blinded and crippled his six-year-old daughter using a car bomb. Stryker went after the hoods responsible and killed most of them, but made sure Kell went to prison to live out the rest of his life in misery. Because of the extra-legal methods he used to enact justice (or, rather, his version of justice), Stryker is kicked off the force and sentenced to six months in prison, where he loses weight, gains a tan (on a chain gang), and becomes stronger and meaner.

COP-KILL finds Stryker out of the joint and back to kicking bad-guy ass. Much as JACKIE BROWN would do later, author William Crawford plays a few games with time, presenting some scenes out of order and then showing them from different viewpoints (not saying this is original to JACKIE BROWN, just giving you an example). Crawford's weird episodic structure doesn't completely work for me. For instance, he builds up a hotshot young mobster named Johnny Cool early on, giving him a chapter or two to himself, establishing his character in a way that we naturally assume he's going to be Stryker's main foil. Except that he is quickly murdered—off-page!—and he and Stryker never even meet.

If you like brutality and cruelty in your crime heroes, then Stryker is your man. He really busts up some motherfuckers big time.

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