Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mafia Butcher

The Marksman is back in Frank Scarpetta's COUNTERATTACK, #11 in Belmont/Tower's series of rough paperback adventures. Although this one seems to be penned by a different author than VENDETTA (credited to Peter McCurtin), the writing style seems about the same. Blunt and barely functional, COUNTERATTACK feels as though Scarpetta were pounding the keys of his typewriter without ever looking up from the page, as if he had to get the whole damn thing done in a weekend.

Philip Magellan, aka The Marksman, enters New Orleans, where he aims to put an end to the tarpaulin of vice and corruption that covers the city, courtesy of Mafioso Benito Borghese and cop J.M. Baffrey. The Marksman draws first blood by heisting $650 million of heroin from Borghese, which he hides in a cabin in the woods.

Scarpetta's choppy plotting feels made up at the spur of the moment. Supporting characters, such as a pair of French sisters, are underdeveloped, and plot points that appear to head toward some sort of twist are forgotten as soon as they're introduced (why did one sister switch places with the other?). Borghese never meets the Marksman face-to-face, and I'm still scratching my head at Scarpetta's abrupt ending, which reads like he hit his maximum allotted word count and quit.

I enjoyed COUNTERATTACK to a certain extent, but its clumsy plotting and hamfisted style makes it second-tier paperback adventure at best.


Joe Kenney said...

Marty, after more research than I'd care to admit, I have finally figured out the Marksman/Sharpshooter conundrum. Mafia Butcher was actually written by Russell Smith -- who also wrote Marksman #1: Vendetta, Sharpshooter #3: Blood Bath, Marksman #3: Kill Them All, and others. Peter McCurtin was the editor of both lines and it appears he traded off with Smith and Len Levinson in the earliest volumes -- meaning then that you are correct, despite the change of the author's name between Vendetta and Counter-Attack, it is actually the same writer...Russell Smith.

Joe Kenney said...

Sorry -- in my second sentence I wrote "Mafia Butcher," when I meant to write "Counter-attack," the title of the novel itself. I do appreciate though how you title your reviews after the back-cover blurbs, some of which are more compelling than the actual titles!