Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Death Contract

After starting with #7 in the series, THE ICE GODDESS, I was able to go back to the beginning of Pyramid's paperback series about John Eagle, the Expeditor. Author Paul Edwards (whoever he may be) does a nice job telling the tale of Eagle's origin, which only takes up the first few chapters. The half-Scotch/half-English Eagle was raised by Apache after his parents' deaths. Growing into a strapping young man and trained the Apache way in the arts of tracking, trapping, and living off the land, Eagle answers an ad placed by mysterious billionaire Mr. Merlin, who, with the support of the U.S. President and the Secretary of Defense, is organizing a private force of Expeditors to fight injustice all over the globe. Eagle is the first, and completes two years of arduous Expeditor training by being parachuted into the wilderness, hundreds of miles from civilization, with three hired killers on his tail. If Eagle survives and destroys his hunters, he graduates. Since it would be a short book if Eagle died (and Edwards interestingly keeps the killings off-page), the brave young adventurer heads right into his first mission, which is to parachute into Mongolia and find a death ray that is zapping airplanes.

NEEDLES OF DEATH basically has the same plot as THE ICE GODDESS, which also finds Eagle trekking across rough country accompanied by a young native virgin. The scenes with Mr. Merlin, the elderly puppetmaster behind the Expeditors (of which Eagle is the only one, so far), are interesting, giving the series a faintly Bondish vibe. Eagle is outfitted with various gadgets, including a skin-tight chameleon suit and a dart pistol that produces instant death, though they aren't overly outlandish. Published in 1973, NEEDLES OF DEATH was packaged by Lyle Kenyon Engel, who was also responsible for the Chopper Cop books. Speculation is that Paul Edwards may be Robert Lory, Manning Lee Stokes or Paul Eiden.

1 comment:

Bob Lory said...

I did not write Needles of Death. My Eagle books were The Laughing Death, Fist of Fatima, Glyphs of Gold, The Death Devilsm and The Holocaust Auction. I have no idea who wrote the others.

Cheers,
Bob (Robert) Lory