Sunday, March 29, 2009

Scent Of Blood

The Sharpshooter returns in MUZZLE BLAST (Leisure, 1974), #6 of the series and one of the sloppiest novels I've ever read. If author "Bruno Rossi" (who may have been Russell Smith in this case) spent more than a couple of days on this, I'd be surprised. It runs only 147 pages…and just fucking…stops. The plot isn't resolved, the hero's friends are missing…the book just ends in the middle of an action scene. It's like Rossi was given a 48-hour deadline, and this is as far as he got. It's bad enough that the writing is clumsy and the editing horrid (seriously, the name "Magellan" appears in place of "Rock," the Sharpshooter's name, close to a dozen times), but to leave the reader so unfulfilled at the end is unforgivable.

MUZZLE BLAST is not even as violent or sexy as its predecessors. The basic plot, which doesn't make much sense, finds Johnny Rock in Boston, where he convinces a Chinese antique dealer who traffics in drugs, Po Yi-po, that he has a shipment of heroin to sell. This story point doesn't go anywhere. Po Yi-po is being shaken down by some Boston cops who are in league with the Italian mob. This doesn't go anyplace either. Rock ends up in Provincetown with Po Yi-po's nympho business partner, Mai-Lin, and Mike Welsch, a sensitive Irish painter and old friend. Rock uses an Uzi on a crooked cop that separates his limbs and head from his body, which is the most violent thing that happens.

Really, this book is a mess, and I can't recommend it. The next book, HEADCRUSHER, is quite badass, though, so perhaps Leisure called on a different author. If nothing else, the Sharpshooter books have great titles.


Bill Crider said...

That's actually a Leisure Book, not a Lancer. Do you get the feeling that the manuscript was originally written for another series and switched to this one? Maybe the Magellan publisher rejected it. I'm too lazy to look up which series Magellan was in, though.

Frankie said...

yeah, i love this series, but this one was pretty bad. Headcrusher fares better if you're into gore and child prostitution rings.

i think the "Magellen" slips came as early as the second entry. he was the star of the Marksmen series, and they're both pretty interchangeable.

Bill Crider said...

There are similar name slips in a cop novel written by Nelson DeMille for the same publisher.

Joe Kenney said...

This is another one I've figured out was written by Russell Smith as another volume of the Marksman, but then changed by editor Peter McCurtin to become an installment of the Sharpshooter. In fact, Muzzle Blast takes place after Marksman #11: Counter-Attack (which you also reviewed). Note how "Rock" refers to the heroin he got in New Orleans...a direct reference to the events in Counter-Attack.