Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Florida Follies

The Penetrator does a fair bit of traveling in his 17th adventure for Pinnacle Books. His stops include Florida, where he blows up an organization swindling senior citizens in phony land deals; Grand Rapids, Michigan to participate in a knife-throwing contest (!); Nebraska to destroy a warehouse packed with dope, pornography, and other nefarious materials; and finally Guatemala (via Mexico) for a final showdown with a big-time baddie called The Poet.

Mark Roberts, writing as Lionel Derrick, was either writing off the top of his head or stringing together a bunch of short story ideas he had laying around. A couple of plotlines are introduced, but then forgotten, such as the continuing mission of FBI agent Howard Goodman--the head of the Penetrator Task Force--to hunt down and kill the Penetrator.

The main villains are Malcolm Stone and gorgeous redhead Nila Dennis, Stone's secretary and the star of his underground series of pornographic snuff films (the Penetrator sees a woman blown to bits in one of the films, but this is another story thread that Roberts drops). They're responsible for the Florida land swindle that only comes to the Penetrator's attention after Stone murders five senior citizens who went to the law.

The body count is high in 1976's DEMENTED EMPIRE, including six bikers who challenge the Penetrator on the side of a road and Nila's out-of-nowhere demise within the coils of a deadly anaconda. Awesome. At least no one can accuse Roberts of slow pacing or a lack of action. Despite the haphazard plotting, this book is a good one.

No comments: