Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Billion-Dollar Book

Believe it or not, the bizarre main image on the cover of Signet's paperback novel THE DEATH LIST actually occurs in the story!

THE DEATH LIST from 1974 is the third Narc adventure written by the excellent crime novelist Marc Olden, using the nom de plume Robert Hawkes. Like the previous book, it's a revenge tale, but this time it's hero John Bolt out for revenge.

The culprits are three corrupt Washington, D.C. cops who perform hits for a silky druglord named Frank Spain. Spain's target is the number one pusher in town, the mysterious Mr. Church, who's rumored to have a ledger containing all the names, dates, prices, etc. of every junkie, pusher, and connection in town, including some prominent government officials and other wealthy men who would do anything to keep the list away from prying eyes.

Spain hires the cops to waste Mr. Church, but the list escapes in the purse of a prostitute named Betsy Hawkins, and Bolt's partner is gunned down in the aftermath. What follows is a tough, rapidly paced procedural that takes Bolt all the way to Paris and back again in pursuit of Betsy and the list, including a very exciting chase through the Metropolitan Museum.

I give Olden's Narc and Black Samurai novels my highest recommendation. They aren't as sleazy as other men's adventure series of the Seventies, but they're exciting with fine characterizations and probably the best-written series of the genre.


August West said...

I've read a lot of decent men's adventure novels and also a lot of crap ones, but I agree with you 100% - The Robert Hawkes' NARC books are the best of the lot. I salivate over all of them!

A fine review and a reminder for me to read another from this well-written series. Thanks...

Professor Brian O'Blivion said...

I've got a lovely little award for for your efforts. Come claim it whenever you get the chance.