Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Golden Shaft

Holloway House jumped on the blaxploitation movie bandwagon in the mid-1970s with its Iceman series featuring a hero more badass than Shaft, Superfly, and Slaughter combined.

Talk about perfect--Henry Highland West was a poor kid from Harlem who grew up to build the most elaborate playpen in Nevada. The Oasis, located in the desert fifty miles from Las Vegas, is a gigantic casino/whorehouse/resort stocked with the most beautiful women in the world. Not only are the girls excellent bartenders, card dealers, and call girls, but they're also experts in kung fu!

To call THE GOLDEN SHAFT, the second Iceman novel, which was published in March 1974, thin on story and characterization is putting it mildly. Sometimes I think author Joseph Nazel, who pumped out seven Iceman books in a little over a year, was making the plot up as he went along.

The Iceman wants revenge after a trio of bikers murder his friend Dipper, an old gold prospector who suddenly came into a fortune. The ultimate culprit is a South African slave trader named Robert Martin, who visits Nevada to buy a gold mine located on the Iceman's property. To call Martin a racist is putting it mildly, as every other word out of the sadist's mouth is an epithet of sorts. Believe me, you will be happy for him to finally get his just desserts.

The 217 pages went by very quickly, though the experience was emptier than reading most of these men's adventure novels. The Iceman is just too awesome--a perfect hero who can kill anybody, has more money than God, and is surrounded by gorgeous fighting women who are more than happy to sleep with Iceman's customers.

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