Saturday, April 05, 2008

A Juicy Piece Of Danger

Jon Messmann's description of Mafia overlord Johnny Lupo is so distinctive in CITY FOR SALE that I could only think of actor Henry Silva, who starred in the obscure 1963 crime drama JOHNNY COOL. Lupo is young, charismatic, quick-tempered, and violent, which pretty much describes many of the roles Silva played during the 1960s and 1970s, particularly in several crime dramas he made in Italy.

#5 in Messmann's Revenger series, published by Signet in 1975, CITY FOR SALE finds Mafia hater Ben Martin squaring off against Lupo, after the gangster makes a move to kidnap Carola Cozzi, the beautiful daughter of hardnosed Judge Salvatore Cozzi, a New York law-and-order advocate with a strong reputation for wiping out the Syndicate. Martin witnesses the initial snatch of Carola by Lupo's boys, and rescues her, killing all three of her kidnappers. This sends Lupo into a rage, marking Martin for a personal vendetta that ultimately boils over into a violent confrontation at the Statue of Liberty.

As I wrote before about THE VENDETTA CONTRACT, Messmann's writing, particularly his soap opera-level dialogue, is overly flowery for this type of adventure. It's only 144 pages and punched up with several well described scenes of action and violence, so Messmann does have a nose for this type of novel.

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