Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Between The Law And The Mafia

I've just about finished Lancer's Soldato! series, albeit way out of order. I started with #4, then went to #5, the concluding book in the series, then jumped all the way back to #1, the origin story, so to speak, and now I have finished #2, which took me about a day. 1972's DEATH GRIP! adds to Johnny Morini's origin story, aiming the concept in the direction it would take all the way to the end.

The opener, SOLDATO!, found Johnny Morini battling back against his former Mafia cohorts, who tracked him down in Witness Protection two years after he testified against his ex-don in court. Now with a pregnant wife and a quiet life running a general store in a sleepy Arizona town, Morini was forced to return to New York to ferret out violent justice. In Lancer Books' DEATH GRIP! (gotta love them exclamation marks), author Al Conroy introduces a new lifelong mission for Morini, after first discarding the wife and child via divorce and miscarriage. Wealthy Carmine Pannunzio, who despises the Mafia, recruits former government agent Riley to enlist Morini as a one-man hit squad against the Mob, sending the tough guy to Pennsylvania to work a little YOJIMBO between rival gangs.

The big centerpiece will seem very familiar to SOLDATO! readers, as Conroy once again sends Morini out into the mountains to be stalked by two deadly assassins with superior weaponry. While DEATH GRIP! provides plenty of action, Morini is often a passive member, since his plan is to make both gangs he has infiltrated bump each other off, while he makes off with a fortune in stolen gems. He does get to show off his action chops throughout, however, including one sweaty hand-to-hand matchup with a knife-wielding mobster who recognizes Morini from the old days.

No comments: