Sunday, April 20, 2008

Trail Of Blood

I really liked MURDER MISSION!, which was the first of Lancer Books' Soldato novels I read and the fourth in the series. Credited to Al Conroy, the real authors of the Soldato series seem to be Marvin H. Albert and Gil Brewer. It isn't quite clear to me which wrote which book, but Soldato #5—BLOOD RUN!—seems to me to have been written by whoever didn't write MURDER MISSION!

Whereas MURDER MISSION! stuck with a typical crime drama story about Johnny Morini, the "Soldato," infiltrating a gang of mobsters in New Orleans and eliminating them, BLOOD RUN! takes us globe-trotting from California to Italy, Turkey and Syria. This time, Morini takes the place of a Mafia hitman named Dietrich and travels to Rome, where he infiltrates the drug-running organization of a French mobster named Gilbert and teams with an assassin named Paul Marc to bring heroin into the U.S. In order for Morini to complete his mission annihilating the mob on the West Coast, he has to follow the junk to the leader.

From Rome, Morini, Gilbert, Dietrich and a red-haired Chinese woman named Opal trek across the Turkish mountains to meet the smugglers contracted to deliver the heroin. BLOOD RUN! reads more like a Sam Durell novel than a typical Mob-busting adventure, and much of the narrative plays like a travelogue, describing Istanbul's bustling atmosphere and the dangerous hike through the Turkish wilderness. There is some action and violence, but BLOOD RUN! is not as tightly written nor as exciting as the earlier Soldato book. It's still worth a read though.

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