THROWBACK THURSDAY: REVIEWING A REISSUE
As a teen, I used to spend a lot of time on bookshops … okay, I still do, but back in the 1970’s I was trolling the bookshelves, looking for anything that I could get excited for. I would ALWAYS pick up one of The Executioner titles, stare at the action on the cover and wonder how much fun the books would be to read, but I also knew that books with such depicted violence would not be particularly welcomed into my household (though the sci-fi books were often much more violent … it just wasn’t so obvious). Now, decades later, as these books are being reissued by Open Road Media, I finally get to dig in past the cover.
The book is pretty much what I expected it to be, more or less. More violence, more story, less sex.
The story is pretty classic pulp fiction. A sharp-shooter in Vietnam, Mack Bolan, comes home to the States to bury members of his family. The Mafia was putting pressure on his father and did everything that they could to get a little money from him. But the deaths of his family members is only the beginning of the blood that will fill the streets. Mack is a trained, cold-blooded killer. Now he turns his skills on the Mafia, taking on this legendary nation inside a nation. Secretly, the cops are delighted to see someone taking out the trash, but even so, if they can get their hands on Mack Bolan, they’ll have to take him in for murder after a score of Mafia loan-sharks and hired guns face The Executioner’s justice.
I was surprised at how much Bolan relied on the help of a young woman – a woman he hadn’t even met until he needed her help – and how quickly the relationship developed.
There’s a lot of killing and no remorse, even from our hero. In part this is because the ‘bad guys’ are set up to be so bad that we can’t feel bad in any way. The nameless who are killed are simply bodies, in the way, working for evil, and better off dead. It was a precursor, in 1969, to the sort of drama we’d be seeing in the movies, with Dirty Harry and the like, in just a few years’ time.
This is escapist, pulp fiction and as such it reads quite well. The action moves along rapidly, and the action doesn’t stop to get gratuitous in a sex scene (the sex happens behind closed doors whereas the violence is right out on the street). And even though it’s violent, the reader is a lot like the cops in the book. We know it’s wrong, what Bolan is doing, but we also know how much he was wronged and how nobody – until now – has been willing to take the Mafia on. He’s fighting fire with fire and we love it.
Looking for a good book? Want fast, escapist adventure fiction? The first book in The Executioner series: War Against the Mafia by Don Pendleton, delivers.
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War Against the Mafia
author: Don Pendleton
series: The Executioner #1
publisher: Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller
Kindle Edition, 185 pages