Friday, July 13, 2007

THREAT CASE by J.C. Pollock

I have been a voracious reader since I was a kid—I started with the Hardy Boys and moved on to Encyclopedia Brown and then somewhere between then and now found the espionage, thriller, and techno-thriller genres. And what a find it was. As a teenager my reading diet consisted of Tom Clancy, Jack Higgins, David Morrell, J.C. Pollock and a bevy of other thriller writers, which brings me to my point. I just finished J.C. Pollock’s Threat Case, and it was everything I remembered it to be. Cool, fast and engrossing entertainment.

Threat Case is Pollock’s second novel to feature former Green Beret and Delta Force Operator Jack Gannon. In it we find Gannon smack in the middle of a plot to assassinate the President of the United States. The drug war is having its affect on the cartels, and they want a little vengeance, so they hire a professional hitman to send Western leaders a message: no one is safe. Gannon is dragged into the mess when he learns of the murder of a friend who helped him through hard times, and it turns out her killer and the assassin are one and the same, and Gannon can’t believe it when he realizes he is hunting an old enemy who he thought had been dead for twenty years.

Threat Case was published in 1991, and its plot is reminiscent of the era—there are street gangs, cocaine, and Vietnam vets behind every tree. The protagonist—Jack Gannon—is tough as nails, and an all around great guy who not only has a sense of duty, but also has a very strict definition of justice and fair play. He is willing to kill, but the killing does not define him—corny sounding, but in its own literary sense very comfortable.

The plot is large: It begins in the Caribbean, but quickly moves to the Peruvian jungles and then on to Washington, D.C. and New York City with plenty of stops in between. The cast is large also, but the novel is at its best when Gannon is on stage struggling to stay in the game and stop the madness before it can change the world. He is a protagonist that, while not well developed, the reader can cheer for because he is representative of everything that is right with the world. He is bold, brave and honest as the day is long.

This is my second reading of Threat Case, and I enjoyed it as much, maybe even a bit more, than the first. It is the perfect length for a thriller, clocking in at 356 pages in mass market, and while it suffers the usual weaknesses of the genre—a little bloat, too much character description, and too much space to set-up the storyline—it makes up for it with heady you-are-there action, and a story that has just enough realism that it could maybe be happening right now. J.C. Pollock was one of the better thriller writers working in the Eighties and early-Nineties, and Threat Case is probably his best.

A little extra: J.C Pollock authored seven novels between 1982 and 1993. Then he disappeared from the world of fiction. His work disappeared at about the same time the genre imploded—one week there were dozens of new military-type thrillers, and the next they were gone. The short biography included with his books says, in part, that he: is a member of the Special Operations Association and the Special Forces Association and a contributing editor to the National Vietnam Veterans Review.

My question: what happened to this guy? He was an above average seller—most of my local bookstores carried everything he wrote up through the mid-1990s—and his work was a notch above most of the thrillers being written at the time. Is he still around? Does he write under a pseudonym—hell, was J.C. Pollock a nom de plume? If anyone out there knows anything about what happened to Pollock—and I know someone does—please send me an email. I would love to hear the story.

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