Monday, September 01, 2008

Billion-Dollar Brain

Midwesterner Gary Brander, better known as a horror author (THE HOWLING), penned three men's adventure novels for Zebra in the mid-1970s about a character known as the Big Brain. Colin Garrett, the world's smartest man, occasionally takes a job with a secret government organization, Agency Zero, investigating strange crimes.

Book #2, THE BEELZEBUB BUSINESS, finds Garrett being reluctantly recruited again by Jefferson Judd to investigate a Washington, D.C. bigwig named Alec Danneman, a Presidential adviser under the hypnotic control of a Satan worshipper who runs a cult in the rear of the exclusive Beelzebub Club, which caters to the Beltway's most influential people. It isn't noir at all, but the Big Brain is more of a private detective than a spy, although Brandner introduces slight supernatural overtones to the story.

THE BEELZEBUB BUSINESS is an extremely brisk read and not an unentertaining one. Brandner's prose is strictly business, describing only what the reader needs to know and not a syllable more. The downside is that, for being such a genius, Garrett doesn't really seem like one. Not that he's a dolt, but he isn't any more spectacular a deductive mind than most other literary investigators, and he's even able to handle himself in a fight or gun battle when he needs to. Good stuff, though. AGENCY ZERO, Brandner's third and final Big Brain book, is next, if I ever find a reasonably priced copy.

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