'The Vigilante' installment “Knock, Knock, You're Dead” is the fourth book of Robert Lory's action series. It was released in 1976 by Pinnacle and is the first of the series to feature a painted cover. Thankfully, Lyle Kenyon Engel disposed of the silly photography and model from the first trio of books, moving to painted covers for the second half of this six-book series.
Surprisingly, “Knock, Knock,...” is positioned just three weeks from the horrendous subway assault on protagonist Joseph Madden. New readers will quickly understand that Madden is The Vigilante, avenging the murder of his wife by visiting various locales and thwarting crime with a .38 revolver. The excuse for the travel? Madden works for a security firm and provides consulting to clients nationwide. Thus, the first week was hot lead in NY, followed by death and destruction in LA and San Fran and now, this third week, a consulting trip to Chicago for a new client. It's a massive body count but the author manages to hold on to some semblance of Madden's vulnerability and weakness. Honestly, he's just an average guy that blunders his way through gun fights.
This novel is fairly elementary – stop some baddies from blowing up a building. It's a thin plot, hampered by sketchy details that just leads to Madden versus the bomber. There's a few fights, some investigative work and then the inevitable gun fight. Our vigilante upgrades to a Mauser .32 pistol, effectively demonstrated in a comparison scene where Madden must choose between the revolver's performance stability and the Mauser's bullet capacity. This was a nice change of pace and adds to the series' evolution of a “rookie” Madden ascending through the ranks of vigilante classes (there is such a thing in this genre!).
Unlike the first two novels, “Knock, Knock,...” continues to include more and more sex. Like other genre offerings of this era, the women are simply sexual fodder. Here, Madden decides he “will have” a beautiful waitress. The two flirt and eventually Madden stomps in and finds that the waitress is simply waiting all day at the coffee maker for Madden to bed her down. In another scene, Madden punishes a crime queen by bringing her to orgasm multiple times (the horror!). It's cheesy, ridiculous...but I keep reading them. I'm already scoping out books five and six on my bookshelf.