Saturday, October 11, 2008

Jake Brand’s War

THE LIQUIDATOR by R.L. Brent is basically a less graphic copy of The Executioner. The hero, Jake Brand, is an angry Miami police detective whose cop father and attorney brother were murdered by the Mob. He becomes obsessed with destroying the empire of local gangster Leo Hester, but when Brand gets too close (and has managed to survive two murder attempts), Hester's superiors dispatch a fixer named Crosetti to get the job done. Crosetti arranges for Brand to be framed for murder, which sends the rogue cop away for five years. When Brand gets out, his mission is to destroy everyone who set him up.

I liked this book. It's not particularly violent or sleazy, but it moves well and never loses sight of its central purpose, which is to tell a basic story in a straightforward and relatively exciting fashion. Brand doesn't appear to be a complete automaton like many men's action heroes were, though Brent (probably not his real name; James Reasoner says he's Larry Powell) doesn't spend a lot of time on characterization and subtext.

Award Books published THE LIQUIDATOR early in 1974, and at least three Liquidator adventures soon followed. One thing interesting about this book is that it ends with Brand's mission not completely fulfilled. While he has dispatched a few of the targets involved with his incarceration, some Big Bads remain at large, giving the series a sense of continuity unusual to the genre. Will I read the next Liquidator book to see if he catches up to his foes? You bet.

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