Saturday, February 23, 2008

Harry Feels The Heat

THE LONG DEATH, #3 in the Dirty Harry paperback series published under Warner Books' Men of Action line, is an improvement over the second novel. That may be because this one was penned by journeyman writer Ric Meyers (all Dirty Harry novels were credited to author "Dane Hartman"), who has a better feel for the character than whoever wrote DEATH ON THE DOCKS (which wasn't Meyers).

Inspector Harry Callahan, the tough cop created in the movies by Clint Eastwood, investigates a white slavery ring led by a woman who operates out of a San Francisco disco. Her goons have quite an elaborate plan, in which they drug their lovely young prey, bind their hands, and disguise them as men, so that she can't be identified by any witnesses. To throw the cops off their trail, the scumbags frame a black militant group for the kidnappings—the same nationalists featured in the 1977 film THE ENFORCER (other events featured in the film are referenced here too).

Meyers' seedy storyline and flair for writing colorful action sequences, particularly the 34-page opening chapter that describes the white slavers' snatch of a Berkeley college student and their pursuit of the young men who attempt to rescue her, make this 1981 novel a fun read. Unlike DEATH ON THE DOCKS, which had Harry disguising himself to chase a killer to the Caribbean, Meyers stays true to the Eastwood portrayal. It's good enough that I suspect Meyers could have written a better Dirty Harry film than THE DEAD POOL.

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