Stephen Mertz and Joe R. Lansdale collaborated once again on this seventh entry in the 'M.I.A. Hunter' series. Released by Jove in 1987, “Saigon Slaughter' is the first of the series to feature a new moniker, 'Stone: M.I.A. Hunter'. Coincidentally, this book features a prelude to what will ultimately dominate the second half of the series.
Protagonist Mark Stone has spent his post-war life rescuing M.I.A./P.O.W.s from southeast Asia. The mission for “Saigon Slaughter” remains the same, rescuing three American soldiers from a Saigon prison. Vietnam, refusing to admit they still have prisoners, has agreed to an international summit with U.S. Senator Harler in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Stone hopes to free the three prisoners and present them to the summit.
The series revelation is around page 43 as Mark Stone self-reflects on the missions and his foreseeable future. He realizes that the intel regarding missing prisoners of war has dwindled, and that everyone from the KGB, CIA and FBI has included him on the hot sheets of most wanted. The rescue of American prisoners in Vietnam and Laos had become a fool's errand. Knowing this, Stone, guided by creator Stephen Mertz, will eventually move his team into a mercenary role starting with the next novel, “Escape from Nicaragua”.
“Saigon Slaughter” features all of the action-oriented intensity of the prior novels. While never really understanding the ratio of Mertz and the rotating co-authors, this book seems to focus a lot of attention on Hog Wiley. It features the typical humorous banter between Wiley and Loughlin while they support Stone's penetration into Saigon. The three align with a network of resistance fighters including Asian beauty Mai.
The book's entrance and eventual escape from the prison features all of the firefights we've come to expect. Enhancing the action is some fierce underground tunnel action as well as a clever ruse to lure an evil general into purchasing Mai as a prostitute. With backing support of Stone, Mai is able to gain key intel on where the prisoners are being held. Experienced readers know the liberation will occur, but how Stone's trio breaks in is always the greatest pleasure.
This was the third and final contribution from Lansdale. Overall, another exciting Stone adventure that will please genre fans.
Note - There is another "Saigon Slaughter" featured in the 'Black Eagles' series. It was released in November, 1984 by Zebra.
Buy a copy of this book HERE