Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hatchet Men

The best Dirty Harry novels were written by Ric Meyers, though all twelve were credited to the pseudonymous Dane Hartman. Meyers clearly was a fan of the films, which starred Clint Eastwood as a badass San Francisco cop, and movies in general. One way to spot a Meyers book is the number of film references tucked inside of it.

HATCHET MEN is a terrific action novel, jammed with imaginative and exciting chases, fights, shootouts, and other scenes of brutality. Most importantly, it remains true to the Dirty Harry character; you can easily picture Eastwood saying and doing everything Harry does in HATCHET MEN, which was not the case in every book.

Meyers also makes the interesting choice to bring back a minor character from the movies in a way to enrich Harry Callahan's backstory. You may remember Sunny, the comely Asian neighbor who invited herself up to Harry's apartment for some late-night fun in MAGNUM FORCE. In HATCHET MEN, which takes place nine years after MAGNUM FORCE, we learn Harry and Sunny are still neighbors and friends with benefits. She's probably the only woman Harry has opened up to since his wife was killed sometime before 1971.

Sunny, also known as Suni Michelle, is kidnapped by Chinese warriors who had earlier the same evening murdered the patrons of a backdoor gambling joint in Chinatown and then raped and strangled an employee of a Chinatown wax museum. Taking the case personally (what else is new?), Harry finds himself trapped between warring Japanese and Chinese gangs with Suni held hostage in the middle.

It's a good plot that mostly takes place in Chicago (for some reason, Warner Books preferred getting Harry out of San Francisco in his literary adventures). Meyers manages to get Harry into a lot of violent scrapes involving his .44 Magnum and occasional ingenuity. Old friends DiGiorgio (played by John Mitchum in MAGNUM FORCE) and Al Bressler (Harry Guardino in THE ENFORCER) make appearances too.

Recommended for action fans and Eastwood fans.


Jack Badelaire said...

I've always been curious about these Dirty Harry tie-in novels. The quality sounds like it varies wildly, but you've given this one a great recommendation. I'll see if I can't track down a copy and give it a read some time.

Marty McKee said...

Jack, if you can find one written by Ric Meyers, you'll likely enjoy it. You can usually tell a Meyers book, because it'll have a bunch of film references in it.