Monday, March 17, 2008


SWITCHBLADE is one of the biggest literary rip-offs I've ever read. Imagine the story of a wealthy liberal New York City engineer named Bronson whose family is murdered by street punks and then becomes a vigilante, walking the streets at night, anonymously blasting the shit out of muggers and hoods. Published by Manor in 1975, one year after DEATH WISH with Charles Bronson became one of Hollywood's most popular and influential thrillers, SWITCHBLADE is the third in Manor's Bronson: Street Vigilante series.

Joseph Chadwick, writing as "Philip Rawls" this time, has certainly cleaned up Bronson's act from the first novel, BLIND RAGE. First off, the locale is now New York, rather than BLIND RAGE's Cincinnati (I guess Manor thought, hell, we're ripping off DEATH WISH anyway, might as well go all the way), but more importantly, Bronson is a little more thoughtful about whom he kills. Whereas he didn't mind in the first book if a few innocent bystanders got in his way, here he considers that he could never murder a cop, not even to save his own life. The 17-year-old lover Bronson picked up in BLIND RAGE is long gone, replaced by his sexy sister-in-law. He also isn't nearly as sadistic and doesn't torture anyone in SWITCHBLADE.

At nearly 200 pages, SWITCHBLADE is longer than most of these books and more conventional than most. It could have used more action, but one could certainly see the makings of a decent if not overly compelling film here. Obviously, we're supposed to picture Charles Bronson as the hero, and I wouldn't be surprised if Manor was hoping for some studio to option SWITCHBLADE as a possible Bronson vehicle. It's a good, quick read, though I wouldn't have minded seeing a subplot involving the spoiled young stepmother of one of Bronson's victims excised, which would have made the story leaner.


Joe Kenney said...

According to this (, Switchblade was written by Joseph Chadwick, whoever that is. It appears then that each Bronson was written by a different author.

Jack Badelaire said...

SWOTCHBLADE just arrived in the mail today. I'm going to read it over the weekend and into next week, and hopefully get a review out soon. I've become actually somewhat fascinated by the idea behind this series.