Sunday, June 01, 2008

Oozing Corpse

One thing I've noticed about the "hero" of Bruno Rossi's Sharpshooter novels. Although many of these men's adventure protagonists seem singleminded in their pursuit of violent justice, the Sharpshooter is downright psychotic. Johnny Rocetti aka Johnny Rock lives only to kill Mafioso. He eats, he sleeps, he sexes up women, but only out of basic animal needs. The only thing in the world Rock gives a shit about is killing mobsters. I mean, that's it. He's practically the most bloodthirsty hero I've read, and that tone is definitely carried out on Leisure Books' covers. Blood drenches nearly every corner of these scummy paperbacks, and "Rossi's" blunt force trauma of a writing style matches.

Several different authors are suspected of being Rossi at various times, but THE WORST WAY TO DIE is reportedly the work of Leonard Levinson, about whom I know nothing (but would like to). Published by Leisure in 1974, it finds Rock storming through Little Italy, where he's ambushed by a mobster he calls Snake Eyes, who roughs him up and sends him off to die. Only Rock escapes, and makes it to the home of an old family friend, a physician, who patches him up. The doctor's daughter, during Rock's recuperation, teaches him the art of makeup, which he uses to disguise himself as a homeless man (they were called bums back then), so he can sack out on the street and case the hangouts of his next targets.

Lots of violence, some blunt and unerotic sex, and plenty of gore mark this Sharpshooter adventure, which ends rather abruptly, as though Levinson/Rossi reached his deadline or his page count earlier than he expected.

1 comment:

James Reasoner said...

I don't know any personal details about Len Levinson, but I know he wrote a lot of war novels, including the Rat Bastards series as by John Mackie and the Sergeant series as by Gordon Davis, and several Westerns, including the Searcher series as by Josh Edwards and the Pecos Kid series as by Jack Bodine. (Not the Pecos Kid series by Dan Cushman, by the way. Totally different series.)