Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Homecoming In Hell

I knew right away that Ric Meyers was the ghostwriter of FAMILY SKELETONS, because of the early movie references to SUPERMAN II and JUST BEFORE DAWN, which means #5 in Warner Books' Dirty Harry series was probably written in 1981 (its publication date is 1982). I think Meyers has a better grasp of the Harry Callahan character than the other (unknown) writers who worked as "Dane Hartman," at least based on what I've read so far.

Meyers gives the flinty San Francisco police inspector a family, which is more than the films ever did, outside of a reference to Harry's late wife in DIRTY HARRY. Here, he flies to Boston at the urging of his first cousin, Linda Donovan, who fears her 20-year-old daughter Shanna, a volunteer at the local Unitarian church, may be the next victim of a serial killer who made Shanna's friend Judy his first victim. Callahan, who isn't exactly the nostalgic or friendly type, hasn't seen these family members, who may be his only living relatives, in over ten years, and isn't looking forward to the reunion, but, down deep, he figures when family needs help, he has to pitch in.

FAMILY SKELETONS is more complex than other Dirty Harry adventures, which is fine. The Scooby-Doo twist ending is kinkier than anything in the films, and feels like something Meyers pulled out of his ass last-minute (though I know he didn't). It is exciting and poignant, however. Callahan does a lot more cursing in the book than he ever did on screen, though his disregard for authority remains a constant.

1 comment:

James Reasoner said...

I seem to recall that the other writer on the Dirty Harry books was Stephen Smoke, but I could be wrong about that.