Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Terror Stalked The Night

I don't think anyone has ever figured out who author Edson T. Hamill was, whether he was even a real person or a house name, but I'm sure he isn't the same person who wrote Leisure Books' earlier Ryker novels. For one thing, THE SADIST is much better written than the earlier Ryker books, most of which were penned by future best-selling novelist Nelson DeMille.

For that matter, THE SADIST is better written than the previous Hamill novel, THE CHILD KILLER, which may be the nastiest, sleaziest novel I've ever read. It's also dull and blunt, which THE SADIST definitely is not. For one thing, THE SADIST takes the time to flesh out the personality of its antagonist, a hitman named Mike Marlin.

The biggest update to the Ryker series is that its hero is no longer an asshole. Previous installments made its protagonist, tough New York detective Ryker, a grim badass who made Dirty Harry look like Jm. J. Bullock. Preferring to murder suspects rather than apprehend them, Ryker was also humorless and didn't give much of a damn whether innocent bystanders got hurt or not. The Ryker of THE SADIST is a more conventional cop who quips with his fellow cops--hell, just getting along with them is a step up for the character--and shows signs of empathy with victims.

The plot puts Ryker and his partner on the trail of Marlin, a successful hitman for more than twenty years who specializes in offing wives. He's smart enough to stay clear of the law during his whole career, but it's pretty hard to keep a step ahead of the determined Ryker.

The massive change in Ryker's behavior leads me to conclude the Edson T. Hamill of THE SADIST is not the same Hamill of THE CHILD KILLER.

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