Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bloody Crusade

DEATH TO THE MAFIA is as dumb and sloppy as you would expect a Marksman novel to be. It opens with a half-page introduction that was probably hastily slipped into the book at the last minute explaining the absence of Terri White, a character from Belmont Tower's two previous Marksman novels. Probably whomever "Frank Scarpetta" was this time was unaware or didn't care about the Terri White character, leaving it to the editor to clear up the continuity problem.

1973's DEATH TO THE MAFIA, the sixth Marksman book, opens with Magellan on his way to Los Angeles to kill some mobsters there. Along the way, he's waylaid by several carfuls of gunsels who open up on him on a desert highway. He kills them all, but has to rescue an innocent bystander, Doris Sims, and take her along for the ride in his Cadillac. More gunmen pursue Magellan to Carlsbad Caverns, but he manages to kill them all--and several innocents--by starting a panic two miles underground.

Hilariously, the Marksman drops Doris off at home after this, never to be heard from again. The next 115 pages contain his real mission, which involves disguising himself as a black man (!) and posing as an HEW official in Watts! He kills many more people on his journey to waste Big Man in L.A. Frank (the Bump) Bommperone.

Obviously, this is mindless trash, but it's amusing how silly, violent, and sloppy it is. In Magellan's "black" disguise, he visits a local official, but this has no bearing on his quest or his cover. In fact, there's no reason for this scene to even exist. Frankly, there's no reason I could see for this disguise to exist, except to make the book weirder. I guess that's a good reason, come to think of it.


Jack Badelaire said...

In one of the early Penetrator novels (set in New York - maybe it's even the first one - Mark Hardin disguises himself as a black guy as well to try and "infiltrate" some ultra-militant black power group turned terrorist organization. Of course, the disguise lasts for about two minutes before his "infiltration" turns into a bloodbath...

Joe Kenney said...

My theory is that the Marksman series ran like the Penetrator -- two authors trading off on every other volume, at least for the first half of the series.

Russell Smith wrote the (bizarre) odd-numbered volumes, and Peter McCurtin wrote the even-numbered volumes. I know from Len Levinson (who didn't write any of the Marksman novels) that McCurtin edited the Marksman line, and also wrote some of the installments...and thanks to the Catalog of Copyright Entries I've been able to discover that Russell Smith was behind the odd-numbered titles (the even-numbered ones are mysteriously never mentioned in the Catalog.)

Anyway, this is my longwinded way of saying that the "Terri White" stuff which opens this volume was probably put there by McCurtin, who wrote this volume...Terri as you know appeared in the previous volumes, written by Smith, and since she was last seen in the fifth volume running of with Magellan, McCurtin probably wanted to ensure readers would know what happened to her so he wouldn't be pestered with any letters asking where she went.