Since reading the first Narc novel back in March, I have learned that author Robert Hawkes is actually Marc Olden, the acclaimed crime novelist best known for his Black Samurai series for Signet. In fact, 1973's NARC was Olden's first fiction book following a biography of Angela Davis and an investigation into cocaine abuse. Olden wrote nine Narc novels between 1973 and 1975 for Signet, and judging from the first two, they're hard-hitting urban crime dramas masterfully rendered.
1974's DEATH OF A COURIER is a revenge tale pitting hero John Bolt against his ex-partner, a renegade D-3 agent (Department of Dangerous Drugs) on a mission to murder seven of his former colleagues in the department, including Bolt. On a routine assignment in Georgia, black Paris Whitman was picked up by two racist deputies who, not knowing he was a government agent, beat him brutally and almost to death. Whitman's mind cracked under the strain and blamed D-3 for the beating. After leaving the hospital, he burned the two deputies alive, and then, using the nickname "Apache," became a hitman and a courier for Detroit's biggest drug dealer. Between shipments, Apache begins murdering D-3 agents, one by one, waiting patiently for his shot at his former best friend, Bolt.
Exciting action sequences, such as the opening chapter pitting Bolt on horseback against four drug dealers in a snowy Central Park, are convincingly staged by Olden in a book that brooks no nonsense. At 157 pages, no words are wasted on scenes or dialogue that doesn't keep the plot moving. Like his novel, Bolt is a hero that also brooks no nonsense. While he has compassion for Paris and treasures their friendship, he isn't sentimental about killing him if necessary. John Bolt has little time for romance or even an outside life, so long as drugs are flooding the streets of America.