This is pretty much what you would expect from a movie tie-in in a series of books labeled "Men of Action". Crud. But entertaining escapist crud. Afte...moreThis is pretty much what you would expect from a movie tie-in in a series of books labeled "Men of Action". Crud. But entertaining escapist crud. After blowing away half a dozen date-rapists, Harry literally walks into this erm, "case". A junkie is initially tagged as the pusher. And Harry and a patrolman have to take the guy to a hospital to detox him before they can question him. Whether this is standard police procedure or not doesn't matter. What does matter is that it allows for a bizarre action sequence where the junkie goes completely nutso, runs into an operating room and starts shooting people with a surgery laser thingy. But you get what you pay for when you buy a book with the words "Dirty" and "Harry" in the title. Pages and pages of gun-shooting, head-splitting, blood-splattering, car-exploding violence.
The story, unashamedly, never forgets its roots - action movies in general (after killing a crook in a restaurant and watching his body fall over a grill, Harry snarls "Bon appetit!" groan), and Dirty Harry movies specifically (the "six bullets or only five" speech gets trotted out as early as page 23, and Harry mutters "man's got to know his limitations" somewhere around page 100). There's also a few lines that had me cackling. I wasn't sure if the author was being deliberate, or the humor was unintentional. This book would've still been more entertaining if Harry had a beer-drinking orangutan as a partner. (less)
What exotic locale does James Bond visit in the third novel in the series? The exotic far east? The Swiss alps? The jungles of South America? Erm...tr...moreWhat exotic locale does James Bond visit in the third novel in the series? The exotic far east? The Swiss alps? The jungles of South America? Erm...try the white cliffs of Dover.
The book begins oddly enough with Bond's superior, M - slightly embarrassed to have to approach what is, essentially, an employee for assistance - asking Bond to accompany him to his gentleman's club one night. Some rotter might be cheating at cards. But because said rotter is Sir Hugo Drax - national hero - it would perhaps be best for his and the club's reputations if exposing his fraud were done on the sly. M knows of Bond's penchant for cards and wants him to do the exposing. After meeting him - and taking a total dislike for the loud arrogant man - Bond is only too willing to fleece Drax of several thousand pounds and exposing him for the cheat he is.
Somehow, this segues into Bond being loaned out to Drax as head of security for his Moonraker project. The Moonraker has been designed as an atomic defense missile that will be fired if another country tries to attack the UK. Days before its planned test launch, the current head of security is slain by another project worker. The ministry smells something fishy. Hence, Bond's new security job. He is told that another undercover operative named Gala Brand was "placed" into Drax's employ a year beforehand. Their relationship thaws, and thank goodness for that. You can't very well defeat a ten year-old Nazi revenge attack on London if you're sniping with your partner.
My initial memory when re-reading this was being bored by a card game which seemed to take at least half a book. And then being entertained by a second half which was more action-packed.
My memory is slipping. The card game isn't quite half the book, and its actually the high point of it. The remaining story plods along at a slower pace and it seems to take FOREVER for anything to happen. When something did, I don't think I cared anymore.
A small Japanese fishing village is struck by a plague that looks awfully familiar to some American scientists. It looks like one of their home grown...moreA small Japanese fishing village is struck by a plague that looks awfully familiar to some American scientists. It looks like one of their home grown biological warfare experiments. A young woman who was visiting the village at the time, recovers from the plague and escapes quarantine.
Sam Durell's job is to (1) find out whether or not Uncle Sam is to blame for the plague and to (2) find the girl, so her blood can be used to manufacture an antidote. In that order. Which pisses Durell off because he figures it should be the other way around. Bureaucrats.
Complicating matters are rival Russian and Chinese agents also on the lookout for said girl.
At one point, Sam is being, er, "tended to" by about a dozen naked geisha girls in a brothel swimming pool when he's ambushed by some baddies. I'd like to see how Durell put that in his report to his superiors.(less)
Which is an odd title, as there's next to no violence in this. There is a brief catfight towards the end, so maybe it should've been titled Michael Sh...moreWhich is an odd title, as there's next to no violence in this. There is a brief catfight towards the end, so maybe it should've been titled Michael Shayne - Catfight Appreciator.
Shayne gets suckered into flying up to DC by a gal who thinks her senator father is about to become the dupe of a good old-fashioned badger game.
But things are much more complex than they seem, and this is when my head started to melt. Something about a senate hearing, a weaselly lobbyist, and an aviation company bidding for a contract. By the time I was thoroughly confused as to who was working for who and who was against what and I needed a diagram to follow, it was too late to start over.
I still prefer Robert Terrall's characterization of Shayne - that of a tenacious, ingenious PI who takes his lumps as much as the next detective - over Davis Dressser's - that of a snarling, constantly thumbing his nose at authority he-man. But I think I'm in the minority.
Wyatt Earp gets himself in a heap o' trouble when he shoots Frank Sitwell in Arizona. Whether or not it was self defense is highly debatable, so he fl...moreWyatt Earp gets himself in a heap o' trouble when he shoots Frank Sitwell in Arizona. Whether or not it was self defense is highly debatable, so he flees to a small Colorado town with his wife Josie and little brother Warren. Enter Arizona deputy Sliphammer Tree, who - as I stated above - is sent to observe Earp while the judges and governors bicker among themselves. Should the extradition order come in, Tree's mission would pretty much turn into one of suicide. I mean - hey, it's Wyatt freakin' Earp.
Complications arise when Tree's hotheaded little brother comes to town wanting to bag the reward for bringing in Earp. It's not really spoiling things to say that the little brother gets killed (not by Earp, but by one of his men) as you can see it coming a mile away. It only serves to add further tension between Tree and Earp.
Earp is written as a shrewd, sometimes cold, calculating colossus of a living legend. He makes no apologies for being a little more untarnished than what the dime novels would have people believe. And his wife is characterized as a sex-hungry nympho who seems to get off on watching bar brawls. Oh, and while I'm on the subject there are a couple of sex scenes in here that border on the, erm, explicit for a western novel.
But then again, this is my first western novel, so maybe that's par for the course.
This is decent escapist reading. It has a huge bar brawl (that lasts for an entire chapter). Its got one brother trying to avenge the death of another. Its got a chase across country by not one, but two posses. Yep. It's a western all right.(less)
In the fourth book in the Earl Drake series, it feels as if Marlowe is still trying to juggle Drake's criminal background with his new freelance gover...moreIn the fourth book in the Earl Drake series, it feels as if Marlowe is still trying to juggle Drake's criminal background with his new freelance government agent lifestyle. In fact, as far as Drake is concerned, at the beginning of this book his unwilling employment with the US spy agency is over. Finito. One mission only. So he experiences a bit of whiplash when they knock on his door and say "Nuh-uh".
As the book opens, Drake is flying to Las Vegas in a plane that's doubling as a casino. Sounds weird, right? he's surrounded by quite a few career criminals who are either seated in groups, playing poker, or sitting on the floor, shooting craps. All he's interested in is finishing his drink. Then the plane is hijacked and forced to land in the Nevada desert. Drake manages to kill all but one of the hijackers - the one holding his money.
Somehow the trail leads to New York. Drake just wants his money back. But his interests coincides with his handler's interests and once again he's roped into doing the CIA's bidding.
Nothing will ever top The Name of the Game is Death. And here, there is more evidence that Drake has softened somewhat - in particular to a character that he encounters in this book. But that softness incurs a price. And once that happens Drake becomes that scary guy you just don't mess with.
I wanted him conscious before I turned him loose. The rush of blood to his dangling head brought expected tremors as he regained consciousness. He started to struggle, then became rigid as his expanding awareness brought recognition of his situation. "Who sent you?" I said to him. Silence. I hadn't expected anything different. Even if he understood English, I hadn't expected anything different. There hadn't been an amateur connected with the operation yet. I watched the mouth of the alley until a wide-spaced set of headlights turned into its narrow passageway. A diesel snorted as the truck picked up speed. I gauged the distance, then pushed at the legs I'd been holding. Professional to the core, he went silently. I heard the sound as he hit, the quick blare of the horn, and then another sound. I closed the window and wiped my prints from it.
That sounds disturbing, but the guy really deserved worse. Really really.
This was a cool read. My copy still had a removable insert in which Rod Serling frowns at you while endorsing a mail-in writing school.
Oh, waiter! There's a man slumbering on my book cover...
The second James Bond novel finds our spy guy arriving in New York. A lot of rare antique coin...moreOh, waiter! There's a man slumbering on my book cover...
The second James Bond novel finds our spy guy arriving in New York. A lot of rare antique coins and doubloons are flooding the market and the source seems to emanate from Harlem. Why send an agent with a license to kill to locate an international fence. Said fence is Mr. Big, crime lord of Harlem as well as another tentacle of SMERSH, the anti-spy organization centered in Moscow. In his spare time, Mr. Big is also head of a voodoo cult.
After causing some collateral damage in New York, Bond escapes down to Florida with Big's hired psychic, Solitaire. He and CIA operative Felix Leiter run into a little shark problem which only turns out to be a precursor of headaches yet to come. The action shifts to Jamaica where he has to rescue Solitaire (again) from Mr. Big's island voodoo retreat. The method? Walking from the shore to the island, in a wet suit underwater, under cover of night, and hoping that the swarms of barracuda and shark that patrol the waters won't eat him. Bond is, of course, a little worried.
As far as Fleming novels go this one's fairly average - not great, not awful.(less)
Donald Lam arrives at work one day to find police sergeant Frank Sellers stewing in the office of his senior partner, Bertha Cool. Sellers is hopping...moreDonald Lam arrives at work one day to find police sergeant Frank Sellers stewing in the office of his senior partner, Bertha Cool. Sellers is hopping mad, you see. He's close to cracking an armored car robbery case, but in the course of his investigation, a telephone number for the Cool/Lam detective agency was found on one of the primary suspects - one Hazel Downer.
Both Lam and Cool denounce any accusation of even knowing who this Downer frail is. After being threatened by Sellers to stay the hell out of his case, Lam leaves the conversation to go to his own personal office, only to find Hazel waiting there for him.
Whoops. Lam quickly shuffles her off to the ladies room before Sellers sees her. In this improvised office, she hires him to find her husband. The hubbie left her for another cheesecake, taking her fifty thousand dollars with him. Fifty grand? Why that's around the same amount that hasn't been recovered from the armored car job. He accepts the job and gets her out of the building just in time to bump into friendly Frank again.
"Remember, smart guy, I'm going to bust this case wide open. Do you get me? I'm going to bust it wide open." "That's nice," I said. "I don't need any help." "I know," I told him. "In the bright lexicon of youth there is no such word as fail." "What the hell's a lexicon?" he asked.
Donald Lam has a mind like a steel trap, seemingly always planning his next six moves ahead of everyone else and preparing for any eventuality. He's also pretty good at rebuffing the advances of Hazel Downer - the "kept woman" whose marriage is basically a common law one - whenever she tries to influence his way of doing things. Despite these qualities, he's not a Vulcan. He's pretty easy going. Which only seems to aggravate the many thin-skinned police detectives in this novel who just want to do their job without all these amateurs getting in the way.
I wouldn't really call this hard boiled, but an enjoyable mystery with some humor - most of it coming from Lam's partner, Bertha.
Even if I weren't a fan of the Matt Helm series, I think I would've picked up this book for the sheer blue-ness of the cover. "BLUE!," it screams.
Also...moreEven if I weren't a fan of the Matt Helm series, I think I would've picked up this book for the sheer blue-ness of the cover. "BLUE!," it screams.
Also, bonus points for the phrase "flying saucer scare".
Yes. In this "new Matt Helm suspense novel", there's some UFO hysteria floating about. Specifically around the area of Mazatlan, Mexico. An American eyewitness needs to be guard-dogged by Helm for her return journey to the US. There's a problem, though. She's already being chaperoned by two agents of another US agency. They've been ordered to cooperate with Matt and they're not too happy about it. Because they play things too close to the vest (and through no fault of his own), Matt Helm winds up killing another US agent in seeming self defense.
There's an added wrinkle to this installment: Helm has a girlfriend! Specifically, a woman from his previous civilian existence who happened to re-enter his life shortly before the novel begins. And, of course, she gets swept along in the adventure. I don't know if it was because of her presence, or maybe it was the influence of the Dean Martin movies, but he's quite the quipster in this. Not that he didn't already have a sense of humor before. But the humor usually confined itself to one or two dry one-liners. Here, Helm seems to be having a ball from cover to cover. But at the same time, he's no less deadly or effective than ever.
At one point, he recruits a civilian into the agency in one very short "job interview":
"I have a new assignment coming up," I said. "For this assignment I need a good-looking, bloodthirsty, conscienceless little bitch who'll slit a man's throat and then kick him in the crotch for bleeding on her shoes." Her eyes watched me steadily. "Well," she said, "well, I'm not very pretty, Helm." "You'll do," I said.
Those are some super serious spy pants. Nothing screams cat burglar like plaid.
Al Mundy is dispatched to Switzerland to steal back...moreLook at those pants.
Those are some super serious spy pants. Nothing screams cat burglar like plaid.
Al Mundy is dispatched to Switzerland to steal back some important SIA papers from some Russians. His cover is blown almost immediately and he falls into the hands of the bad guys. Hands isn't an appropriate word. Clamps is though. Yes, the main villain has a metal clamp in place of a right hand. And if that weren't Bondian enough, he's completely bonkers.
The book starts to lose some steam by the halfway point. There's a drawn out escape sequence where Al breaks out of the lair, nabs a car, and makes it a few blocks before he's recaptured, beaten up and taken back to the lair.
And then he escapes shortly after that.
But Brewer wrote these for money and not for love, so I can forgive him for that. Plus, the prose is frequently amusing, such as in the beginning chapter, where Mundy is cornered by an airheaded floozie who won't let him get a word in edgewise:
Hearing her speak was like shaking hands with a talking dog. Unbelievable.