Friday, March 07, 2008

Find Brunt Maxwell

When Dr. Heinrich Luckmann, an atomic scientist, is murdered in his Palo Alto laboratory, the Penetrator is on the case to find his assistant, a meek genius named Dr. Brunt Maxwell who is working on a special nuclear project that could threaten the world if its plans were to fall into the wrong hands. Whether Maxwell has been kidnapped or just hidden out of fear, no one knows, not even his wife, who is under constant guard by the FBI and beautiful NASA security officer Juliet Marshall.

THE SKYHIGH BETRAYERS, #28 in Pinnacle's popular Penetrator series, published in 1978, is fast-moving fun and a blast to read. Clearly penned with tongue in cheek, the story is no spoof, but takes delight in outrageous story points and characters. Chet Cunningham, writing as "Lionel Derrick," creates some interesting action sequences, such as a car chase punctuated by a phosphorous grenade, a knife battle between two hang glider pilots, and a climactic setpiece inside a mysterious abandoned carnival funhouse.

As the cover proclaims, SKYHIGH may be "as exciting as The Executioner," but don't go by the cool George Wilson cover painting. I don't know what outline Wilson was working from, but the novel sadly has no sharks or Chinese dudes with hatchets. The book is entertaining enough that I can safely say it doesn't need them either.

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