Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sadistic Maniac

Ralph Hayes, who also wrote the Cominsec series (which I have yet to review) and many other novels, penned five during the 1970s about The Hunter. John Yard was a Green Beret in Vietnam who settled down in Kenya to become a great white hunter and a guide. In Hayes' last Hunter novel for Leisure, 1975's THE DEADLY PREY, he goes after a human target in the United States.

In West Virginia, a disgraced ex-government scientist named Kroller is conducting experiments on human subjects in his attempt to create a deadly virus that can be used to cripple America's enemies. Working incognito for a pair of right-wing Washington bigwigs who don't trust international treaties, Kroller uses drifters, drunks and hippies as test subjects who don't realize their ultimate fate is a very painful death in the name of mad science.

One victim is the runaway son of the Hunter's friend, a Brit named Philip Malcolm, who hires Yard's best pal, Kenyan private detective Moses Ngala, to travel to the U.S. and investigate. An educated black man in Appalachia doesn't get far, as you might imagine, and after suffering a beating and discovering a secret graveyard on Kroller's property, Yard gets fired up enough to fly to West Virginia himself and lay down some thumpings.

THE DEADLY PREY is a pretty tough book filled with beatings and shootouts and a nifty finale. Of course, Hayes stacks the deck by creating some really evil antagonists—cruel, inhumanly corrupt racists that you can't wait to see destroyed. The cover of Yard holding that bigass penis gun is pretty awesome too.

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