Sunday, August 03, 2008

Paradise Damned

The Cabot Cain books are not really related to the men's adventure paperbacks of the 1970s, such as the Executioner, Penetrator, Black Samurai, Butcher series and so on. They're actually more akin to the espionage novels of Donald Hamilton or Edward S. Aarons. Six Cabot Cain adventures were published by Avon between 1969 and 1975, all with titles beginning with "ASSAULT ON…"

The first Cain book is ASSAULT ON KOLCHAK, and, no, it doesn't involve a nosy reporter stumbling onto zombies, ghosts and vampires. Cain is a 6'7" agent of sorts, though he appears to be working independently and not as part of a government agency. KOLCHAK sends him to Brazil to track down a Communist who, decades earlier, had routed the estate of a noble family, raped the wife, and made off with precious jewels. The family now wants revenge against Kolchak, the father of the family's daughter (neither she nor Kolchak knows this), and, through Scotland Yard cop Fenrek, asks Cain to enact it for them. Kolchak is suspected to be hiding in Fuerte Quemado, a city hidden deep in the jungle near the Brazil/Bolivia border that is inhabited solely by Nazi war criminals, Communist dictators and other tawdry sorts who needed a safe place to hide with their ill-gotten riches.

It's a very exciting book, and I'm glad to meet up again with Cabot Cain, whose adventures I had read many years ago. He's a fun character to follow—very erudite and cultured, but more down-to-earth than, say, 007. The book's sex and violence fit the storyline without coming off as gratuitous.

I'll write more about author Alan Caillou at a later date, but I will say that he was quite a Renaissance man, whose exciting life ranged from working as a British spy during World War II to writing exploitation movies like the amazing bikers-in-Vietnam flick THE LOSERS to acting as a silly character called The Head in the shamefully shortlived Seventies sitcom QUARK.

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