Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Three The Hardman Way

Happy Holidays, folks. I trust everyone had a fun Christmas weekend. I did little besides eat, doze, watch NFL football, and read trashy novels. I have three to catch up on here, so I'll throw them up here in a hurry.

In Ralph Dennis' THE LAST OF THE ARMAGEDDON WARS, #11 in Popular Library's Hardman series, Jim Hardman is a non-licensed ex-cop who sorta does private investigation work on the side, assisted by his big, strong, black pal Hump Evans. Hardman finds himself trapped in a gang war when The Man--a black mobster named Warden Pike who runs all the black rackets in Atlanta--is under siege by assassins. The Man trusts Hardman enough to look into who wants to kill him, while the cops want Hardman's help working on the inside. Hardman loves to grill steaks and fight in this very short paperback, written in first person and published in 1977. Not bad, but nothing out of the ordinary, outside of the unusual Atlanta setting.

VENDETTA, Peter McCurtin's first novel in Belmont/Tower's Marksman series, published in 1973, is not an origin story and forces you to fill in some gaps yourself. Basically, Phillip Magellan--the Marksman--despises the Mafia and wants to kill everyone involved with the organization. The back of the book claims that Magellan was a teenage trick shot champion and that the Mafia murdered his family when he refused their invitation to become an armorer for them, but none of this is in the book. What is in the novel is a large body count, as the Marksman makes for San Francisco to bring down a high-ranking mobster named Dino Flavel. He also kills a bunch of hippies, cuts the head off of one and leaves it in the St. Georges Hotel's fountain.

The Butcher's second adventure, 1971's COME WATCH HIM DIE by Stuart Jason (Pinnacle, 1971), is pretty good stuff that really gets crazy down the stretch. The first half or so is typical bang-bang stuff, as Bucher, a former mobster who quit the Mafia and now works for a government agency called White Hat to bring down the organization, bounces from New Orleans to Holland to avoid the $100,000 bounty on his head, particularly when he learns a female assassin is on his trail. His mission is to investigate a former Nazi named Klaus von Rimer, who is rumored to have instigated a plot to substitute perfect doubles for American congressmen that will vote in favor of the Mafia's wishes. The wildness really kicks in when the Butcher comes face to face with von Rimer, who turns out to be a cannibalistic necrophiliac who keeps genetically mutated, giant-size anacondas in his cellar. While the climax was just as I predicted, it's still pretty gruesome and quite memorable, as is the rest of the book.

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