Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Cold Fury

The last time we saw the Lone Wolf in BAY PROWLER, he had just blown up a freighter in San Francisco, killing dozens and absconding with $500,000 in uncut heroin in a very sturdy valise. Berkley's #3 of the series, BOSTON AVENGER, picks up almost immediately after with Burt Wulff arriving in Beantown and getting robbed of the drugs during a 3:00 AM Mob holdup at a tollbooth. Wulff has almost co-starring status, as a Harvard professor named Philip Sands gets plenty of page time after the hoods who swiped the valise doublecross their boss, hood Lou Cicchini, and take it to Sands, a smalltime dealer, to fence. Writer Barry Malzberg (as Mike Barry) is very good at making the reader believe how difficult it is to sell a half million worth of skag—it's too big and too hot for any dealer to touch, according to BOSTON AVENGER.

I think just about every Lone Wolf novel I've read so far has featured a car chase, which is difficult to portray without the sound of screaming tires and visuals of skidding and rolling, but Malzberg has a talent for it. Wulff, an ex-cop obsessed with bringing down the Mafia after his fiancé died of an overdose in NIGHT RAIDER, has used up nine lives and more in his adventures so far. Here, he makes an unholy alliance with Cicchini, who also wants the drugs as far away from him as possible, and convinces Wulff to find Sands and take the valise out of town. BOSTON AVENGER is occasionally overwritten, such as a concluding chapter focusing on Sands' estranged younger wife Karen, but certainly violent and satisfying.

1 comment:

Jerry House said...

I view the Lone Wolf saga as one long 14-book novel. The series skewers the vigilante genre mercilessly, from the over-written prose and violent action to the inconsistencies (that you later find out really are not) that begin to crop up as you go through the books. The ending knocked me off my seat and gave extra meaning to all that preceded it. Malzberg is one of our best authors and the Lone Wolf series is a tour-de-force. The criticism of this series that I have seen comes from persons who have only read individual parts of the whole.