Sunday, February 01, 2009

BOSTON BLITZ by Don Pendleton

I’ve “rediscovered” The Executioner over the last year. I voraciously read this series as a teenager and somewhere between eighteen and twenty I completely lost track of the older titles as well as the current books in the series. I viewed them as nothing more than fond memories solidly in the rearview mirror of my reading, but like much of what I read Mack Bolan has cycled back into my reading pile. The most recent title I read is the twelfth in the series: Boston Blitz.

Boston Blitz is one of the original Mack Bolan novels; it was written by Don Pendleton and published by the old Pinnacle Books in 1972. I have it on good authority that Boston Blitz was Pendleton’s favorite executioner title and after reading it I can understand why. It is exactly what this type of novel is supposed to be: fast, lean, hard and very rough.

As the title suggests Bolan’s twelfth war ground is Boston, but this time it’s a little more personal than a few of the earlier hits. The Boston mob has kidnapped Mack’s kid brother—Johnny—and girlfriend Valentina Querente.

The novel opens at a mob hangout with Bolan blasting a low-level mob boss named Julio LaRocca. When the audience is properly attentive he tells them to spread the word he is in town and ends it with:

“Tell them! I’m here. Tell them someone knows why! Tell them.”

The plot moves quickly and without a hitch. The action is explosive and exciting, but there isn’t nearly as much action as you would expect. It is paced expertly and the action is used moderately to emphasize and catapult the story from one twist to another. Bolan is a super-hero; more comic book hero than anything else, but Mr Pendleton clutters the narrative with a visually tired, worn out and burdened Mack Bolan. Not so much that it gets tiresome, but rather just enough to make the guy likable and human.

The prose is very hardboiled:

“Yeah, all too familiar. Bolan threw off a tremor of revulsion—for himself, for the world he adopted—then he steeled himself and dropped into the reality of War Everlasting.”

And it—the prose—matches the action and mood of the novel perfectly. There is no humor. There is only sorrow and sadness in the manner of the outsider, very much like the hero of a traditional Western that saves a society that cannot tolerate him or his actions.

Boston Blitz is the best The Executioner novel I have read and if you think you know the work of Don Pendleton and you haven’t read it you should. You might be surprised how good these novels can be. And you might be surprised that Don Pendelton was a pretty fair storyteller who not only created a genre, but worked that genre better than anyone else ever has.

Other Don Pendleton reviews:

COPP FOR HIRE
COPP ON FIRE

Reviews for Executioner Novles not written by Don Pendleton:

#63 DAY OF MOURNING by Stephen Mertz
"Early Fire" by Stephen Mertz

1 comment:

ARCHAVIST said...

I too used to love these books - will try and find some old copies. Thanks for the memories.