Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Stoner #03 - All That Glitters

The third 'Stone' novel, “All That Glitters”, was released by Manor in 1977. I've grown fond of this rugged salvage hero, a loner that hunts treasure and thugs across the globe. Thus far, the second entry, “The Satan Stone”, has championed the series, but Hayes has a gift for storytelling and he has a lot of fun with this one.

“All That Glitters” runs that familiar scheme where everybody that touches the wealth is immediately killed by the next guy wanting to touch the wealth. It's a simple formula that has been done to death (even by 1977 standards) in all forms of media, but nevertheless it's entertaining. It revolves around the theft of the cherished Southern Cross, an ornamental bling-bling worth millions.

Hayes embeds us in the action very early. Zachariah Smith, a stealthy dealer, runs a museum heist, cleverly switching out a fake Southern Cross with the real one. He kills two guys in the exchange but pulls the snatch off with smooth expertise. It's only when he attempts to sell it to another nefarious dealer, Vlahos, that the chain of death commences. Before the transaction is complete, both are murdered and the treasure passes to the next criminal. This continues through a dozen hands, some planned, some sheer luck, throughout the alleys and backstreets of Athens. Stoner's involvement is a plush $50K to recover the cross and return it to the museum.

“All That Glitters” differs from the prior two books of the series. Those entries put the action in exotic locations in the jungles and deserts of Africa and South America. This book changes direction by placing Stoner in an urban environment. Instead of tanks, planes and horses, we get high speed car chases and alley sweeps. I like this change of direction and it adds a little more dynamic to Stoner's one-dimensional joystick of “punch, shoot, run”. The end result is another fine addition to a high-quality series.