The .357 Vigilante series came late to Pinnacle's string of men's adventure series, the first book being published in 1985. This is one of the few from this genre that I actually read when it first came out. Strangely, even though I haven't ridden myself of too many books over the years, .357 VIGILANTE seems to be one of them, as my original copy doesn't appear to be here anymore. However, a recent eBay auction netted me all three in the series at a favorably low price.
Author Ian Ludlow is actually Lee Goldberg, who may be better known as a television writer who has worked pretty consistently since the 1980s on mystery series like SPENSER: FOR HIRE, THE COSBY MYSTERIES, DIAGNOSIS: MURDER, BAYWATCH, MARTIAL LAW, SEAQUEST DSV, BURKE'S LAW and MONK. He also keeps busy today writing tie-in novels based on some of those shows, but early in his career, he was cranking out these .357 Vigilante actioners.
The plot is not exactly original. Brett Macklin is a helicopter pilot and classic car renovator who goes into bloodthirsty action when his cop father is burned alive by Los Angeles street punks. The killers are set free on a bogus technicality, spurring the previously non-violent Macklin to hunt them with his dad's old .357 Magnum.
However, the story is more complicated than that, as more bodies begin falling in L.A., all of them belonging to Officer Macklin's friends. Not only does this political conspiracy involving a gubernatorial race place Brett's life in jeopardy, but he must also resist the efforts of his best friend, a police detective assigned to capture the vigilante killer, dubbed by the press "Mr. Jury."
Judging from Goldberg's TV credits, you can guess the type of story he delivers here. It's straightforward and clean without subtext, symbolism or suspense. Some of the dialogue could easily come out of David Hasselhoff's mouth, it's puerile enough. The book's also a bit long at 214 pages. But it's a good, brisk read with plenty of action and pop culture references to make it a slicked-up, dumbed-down PG-13 version of the Executioner.