The 35-book series 'The Butcher' was conceived by the Don King of the paperbacks – Lyle Kenyon Engel. Like many of these 70s and 80s action-adventure yarns, a series of literary works about a hot-headed, globe-trotting gruff crime fighter was really par for the course. Based on the overwhelming success of Pinnacle's own 'The Executioner', Engel formed 'The Butcher' in 1970 as a Pinnacle property possessing a rotating author schedule under house name Stuart Jason. Aside from Lee Floren's contributions to books 10 and 11, James Dockery wrote the first 26 novels. Michael Avallone authored the last nine.
“Kill Quick or Die” is the series debut and provides the obligatory origin. Bucher has enforced Syndicates for a number of years, but has a change of heart and leaves the rackets. Joining a mysterious crime-fighting organization called White Hats, Bucher receives assignments to battle international crime rings. In doing so, he must contend with the Syndicate and the lucrative contracts they offer for his demise.
Our introductory mission is tracking down a Chinese scientist named Dr. Fong who's invented some type of micro-transformer that holds a lot of energy. If the bad guys can gain access to it's power, they control Earth...somehow. None of it really makes any sense, but the reader tags along as Bucher fights the baddies in places like Atlanta, Cairo and Israel.
Meeting a former lover named Tzsenya, the two team-up on a Middle Eastern conspiracy to pipeline wealthy terrorists into the US. Bucher aims to stop the pipeline, but wants to learn how the pipeline works. Putting Dr. Fong and the micro-transformer horseshit aside, Bucher finds a torture fiend named Lobertini who melts his prisoners in the bowels of an old castle. Thus Fong, Lobertini, escaping the hitmen and avoiding Tzsenya's lovemaking invites (Bucher doesn't mix pleasure and business) is the entire premise of the novel.
Normally, this sort of thing we could file under 'Killmaster' and for the most part just have a lot of silly fun. Unfortunately, Dockery is underwhelming as a storyteller. His abstract writing style (read that as flaky) has more in common with Joseph Rosenberger, another author that I steer clear of. With “Kill Quick or Die”, and subsequent entires, Dockery uses pulp language to describe 70s action. Our hero routinely says things like “Shuck your heater” or jabs with “Son of camel filth” insults. Dockery describes shots like comic books – Koosh!
Overall, the plotting is so convoluted that I stopped caring by page 100. It's a literary minefield of bad writing. “Kill Quick or Die” is simply bad fiction. Here's the pot calling the kettle black – why would anyone spend time reading bad fiction when there's hundreds of golden gems of the 50s, 60s and 70s left to explore? I weep for the time I've wasted on so-called genre classics like 'The Butcher'.
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