Thursday, December 27, 2018

Track #01 - The Ninety-Nine

Gold Eagle originally had the idea for 'Track' as 'Hunter', which would have made more sense overall. At the time NBC had the 'Hunter' name branded for television, thus 'Track' is given as this series name. It had a 13-book run from 1984-1986 and had a mythology of protagonist Dan Track “tracking” down 99 stolen nukes. 

According to the “Brian Drake at Large!” blog, and comments Drake made at Trash Menace, Ahern had less than favorable opinions of the Track series. According to Drake, Ahern had publishing constraints and disliked the series' title. Perhaps his lack of enthusiasm is the driving force behind the debut's failure. “The Nintey-Nine”, the series opener, is a lethargic read that left me wishing the book length was the standard 180-pages instead of 220. It was a bear to get through. 

Dan Track is a retired Army Major and former member of the branch's Criminal Investigation Division (CID). The beginning of the book has Track undercover and under covers with arms dealer Desiree Goth. After investigating her robbery of Wiesbaden arsenal, Track decides to break cover and detain her. Unfortunately, Goth and enforcer Zulu overpower Track and the prologue's closing pages has Track fighting drug runners in a North African desert. 

Early chapters introduce us to series villain Johannes Krieger and his liberation of terrorist bomber Klaus Gurnheim. Krieger's “super power” is that he can alter his appearance to look like anyone. This Nazi sympathizer even becomes a woman in one ridiculous scene where he recruits a pilot at a gay bar. Krieger has the plans to capture 99 nuclear warheads from a military installation...because anyone can do this with a little planning, right? 

Track teams with a global insurance underwriter, Sir Abner Chesterton, and his truck-driving nephew George to stop Krieger. So, what's so bad about the veteran good guy facing the mad bomber? The fact of the matter is that it's so utterly ridiculous that it's hard to even throw out logic to enjoy simple 80s fun. In one scene we learn that an IRA terrorist has captured the top floors of a department store. They have threatened to blow up the building if their demands aren't met. Intelligence, led by a Sir Edward Hall, advises that the terrorist has 80 people AND...there's a girl in a wheelchair. It's this sort of nonsense that is maddening. As if terrorists planning on bombing a building filled with Americans isn't enough to warrant Track's attention, the author has to add a handicapped child into the equation to really heighten the sense of urgency. Why?

The ridiculous notion that Krieger can walk into a military installation and force a General to hand over nuclear warheads is just too easy. To dumb down the reading even more...NO ONE but Track, George, Chesteron and an assemblage of 10,000 black mobsters even know the warheads are missing! The finale has Track saving the city of Chicago by stopping a train but my brain checked out with 40-pages left. It was truly an exercise of internal fortitude to get through this much nonsense. Don't track 'Track'. Just leave this series alone in the wild.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

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