Monday, December 03, 2007

Bay Prowler

Using the name Mike Barry, prolific author Barry N. Malzberg wrote fourteen quickie novels about the Lone Wolf between 1973 and 1975. Talk about a career--this guy seems to have done just about everything. He's written more than 300 short stories dating back to 1966, edited books of criticism and essays, novelized the 1974 film PHASE IV and the pilot to the television series KUNG FU, written several mysteries and science fiction novels, and, using the name Mel Johnson, even churned out more than a dozen pornographic novels during the late 1960s. As one person wrote on the Internet, it's quite likely not even Malzberg himself remembers everything he's written.

It's quite possible the Lone Wolf series is something he'll be remembered for, as these men's adventure novels seem never to die, popping up in used book stores, basements and on eBay (where I found this one). In Berkeley Medallion's BAY PROWLER, published in 1973, Malzberg/Barry seems to be attempting a continuity that, I understand, eventually paid off in the 14th and final Lone Wolf adventure. In the first book, NIGHT RAIDER, ex-cop Burt Wulff blew up a mobster's penthouse apartment to stop the flow of drugs into the Big Apple. He managed to secure an attache case with clues leading him to a huge drug shipment coming into San Francisco, which is where BAY PROWLER is set. Wulff is one of the more fatalistic men's adventure heroes I've come across. He appears to know his life will be a short one, and realizes there's no way he can ever have a normal relationship with another human being, man or woman. He is determined, however, outdriving, outfighting and outshooting half the San Francisco Mafia, and eventually blowing up a ship and escaping the clutches of both the mob and the police.

Clues in the finale indicate Boston is the next destination for Wulff's vendetta journey, and it looks as though each of the Lone Wolf books was set in a different city, where presumably Wulff wiped out all the local mobsters. BAY PROWLER was an okay book, not a great one, and the speed with which it was written is quite obvious. Gotta give credit for the awesome cover, though, one of the best I've seen so far. Even if the book's climax fails to give the Lone Wolf a red-haired companion with deep cleavage.


Anonymous said...

When are we building the "Men's Action Novels" website?

Anonymous said...

I actually think this IS a great series, or near great. Malzberg's extended rants on society were quite insightful, and he mainlined them into the stories in a way that didn't slow them down at all.