Saturday, October 30, 2021

#52: The Mark of Cosa Nostra by Nick Carter

Killmaster Nick Carter and a rookie agent go undercover to break up a heroin ring in The Mark of Cosa Nostra, an early 70s installment in the long-running spy series.

I picked this up as part of my casual re-read of the Nick Carter paperbacks that I enjoyed so much as a teenager.  This one was actually written by George Snyder, who penned lots of men's adventure stories.

Carter and his attractive young partner--armed only with a pair of specially-built panties with a spring-loaded single-shot pistol built in somehow--pose as a mafia boss and his girlfriend to unravel an unlikely, knotty plot involving the Chinese trying to take over the drug traffic into VietNam by controlling a branch of the mafia.

Convolutions aside, this is a burly, fast-moving story with an especially breakneck ending, where a badly wounded Carter tries to dispatch some baddies and free his partner. Enjoyable enough if you can ignore the broad strokes in which some characters and situations are portrayed in that moment in time.

I have a big stack of these Nick Carter books and have been working my way through them steadily.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

#51: The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel

A washed-up baseball player looks into the very public death of his all-star brother in Lincoln Michel's genre mash-up The Body Scout.

He ends up being hired by his brother's baseball team, the Monsanto Mets, and crosses paths with Neanderthal enforcers, rival scouts, an anti-technology cult, and more, all on the cusp of the World Series going to a Game Seven.

Michel's novel is a triple play of heady cyberpunk, hard-boiled noir, and old-fashioned baseball; kind of like as if David Halberstam had written Neuromancer.

Lots of offbeat world-building, a likeably tarnished protagonist, plenty of action, and a genuinely surprising (and cynical) finale all add up to an enjoyable read.

I enjoyed The Body Scout and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys (any kind of) genre fiction.

I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana and read it quickly.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

#50: The Darkness Knows by Arnaldur Indridason

A body shows up in the ice melt of a glacier, and a retired Reykjavik police detective starts to try again to finish out a long-unsolved case, in Arnaldur Indridason's The Darkness Knows.

Indridason is one of my favorite crime writers, not just one of my favorite Scandinavian authors.  His Erlendur novels, beginning with Jar City, are all strong.

This is the second novel featuring Konrad, the retired detective, following on The Shadow District.  Some of his own sometimes troubling backstory comes out more in this one, and a third seems likely in the offing as his father's murder (a part of both novels) still remains unsolved at the end.

The Darkness Knows is a very solidly-assembled puzzle with interesting characters and situations, and that dash of inky blackness known to fans of Scandinavian noir.

I got this from New Castle-Henry County Public Library and read it steadily.

Monday, October 11, 2021

#49: Time Clock of Death by Nick Carter

The Russians blame the Americans for a stolen Russian plane, so Killmaster Nick Carter swings into action to find out where it really went in Time Clock of Death.

This edition of the long-running spy series comes from the early 70s and was written by George Snyder, who chopped away at all kinds of men's adventure and western novels.  

I have been doing a casual re-read of some of the series, which I loved as a teenager, and I especially remember having this one from the curious title.  I'm surprised I don't remember more of it, as it opens with a woman getting shot while having sex with Nick Carter, and I think that would have stuck in my teenaged brain.

From there Nick Carter teams up with a sexy female agent to hunt "The Colonel," ending up at a Bond-style castle on an island filled with traps and shenanigans.  A leather-clad, whip-wielding villainess and her army of female bodyguards are also right out of this era of Bond villainy.  

Sits squarely in a less sophisticated era of race and gender relations, but a solid (though unremarkable) spy outing.

I got this from a big stack of Nick Carter books I got somewhere and read this quickly on a camping trip, the best possible way to consume it.