Thursday, September 18, 2008

Three Dead Hookers

If you've seen any or all of the LETHAL WEAPON movies, you owe it to yourself to check out at least one of Pinnacle's men's adventure novels about detectives Razoni and Jackson. This wisecracking, rule-breaking black-and-white duo was quite obviously screenwriter Shane Black's influence, when he penned the first LETHAL WEAPON in the mid-1980s. Apparently, author Warren Murphy, who created Razoni and Jackson for the team's first book, CITY IN HEAT, thought so too. Probably with his lawyer's intervention, Murphy was signed to collaborate with Black on LETHAL WEAPON 2, but according to Murphy, the two had trouble working together and left the project after completing a first draft. Jeffrey Boam (INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE) eventually earned the screenplay nod with Murphy and Black receiving story credit.

DEAD END STREET is the first of the five Razoni & Jackson thrillers I've read, and it appears to be a cross between the Destroyer novels Murphy and Richard Sapir were already famous for and the black-comic cop novels of Joseph Wambaugh (THE NEW CENTURIONS). Black Tough Jackson is the big, strong by-the-book (usually) family man in the partnership, whereas white Italian Ed Razoni is flashy, obnoxious, and has few (no?) qualms with busting a few little laws to capture the bad guys breaking the big laws. As members of their own special squad, complete with ball-busting commander who yells at them a lot for pissing off the police brass, Razoni and Jackson are assigned to find out who is slitting the throats of blond hookers in a particularly grubby area of the city. While Jackson is staking out the pervy owner of a nearby porn bookstore, Razoni goes undercover as a sailor to, ahem, interrogate a sexy black hooker who may have pertinent information.

You know the buddy-cop formula by now, and the Razoni & Jackson series even precedes Warner Brothers' FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, the raucous James Caan/Alan Arkin cop comedy that stands as one of Hollywood's forefather to that type of film. Even though they're fast friends, Razoni and Jackson spend most of their time bickering with each other with no racial or ethnic lines off limits. Both spend more time with each other than with their own families, and are completely comfortable with the amount of violence that fills their everyday lives. DEAD END STREET is a freewheeling good read, and I'll try to track down the other book in the series.

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