Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Savage World Without Mercy

BLOOD OATH is the second of Leisure Books' surprisingly long-running series of men's adventure novels about Mafia-killing madman Johnny Rock aka the Sharpshooter. Published in October 1973, it's also one of the sloppiest, and that's saying a helluva lot for one of literature's all-time sloppiest series.

Peter McCurtin wrote the initial book, THE KILLING MACHINE, under Leisure's "Bruno Rossi" house name. When Russell Smith came in to pen the sequel, he jettisoned all the established facts and open storylines McCurtin had created. John Rocetti is now named John Roccoletti (subsequent books would go back to Rocetti), and Iris Toscano is gone and replaced by a new character named Jane (more on her in a moment).

As with other books in the Sharpshooter series, BLOOD OATH is plagued with editorial mistakes due to having been intended as an entry in Belmont Tower's Marksman series. Rock is occasionally called "Magellan" (the name of the Marksman), and Jane is introduced twice as Terri White, the Marksman's romantic interest. Honestly, these characters exist only to be abused and raped, which happens to Jane near the end of BLOOD OATH and to Terri in HEADHUNTER.

It's pretty clear that Smith was just making shit up as he goes along. He has Rock kidnap a policeman and two journalists, strip them, photograph them, and bound in an attic, which is where they still are at the end of BLOOD OATH with no indication of what Rock plans to do with the photos. Smith builds up to a big violent climax, which takes place mainly off-page with the nastiest villain being dispatched in a throwaway sentence on the last of 156 pages.

Plot finds the Sharpshooter renting a country home near the small town of Xenia, New York, where he discovers Mafioso Attilio Fanzago has set up an estate. As mobsters go, Fanzago ain't bad. He deals only in merchandise like electric typewriters and eschews dope and prostitution. Still, he's Mobbed up, so Rock hates him and has to destroy him. Which he does in the most hamfisted and juvenile prose possible.

Did I enjoy BLOOD OATH? Well, yeah.

2 comments:

pete medina said...

good post about something I know noting about.

pete medina said...

That's nothing about, thanks for your great blog.