Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Rackets Incorporated (aka Blood on My Shadow/The Organization)

John S. Glasby (1928-2011) was a U.K. author whose body of work includes dozens of novels in various genres throughout his career. Using the pseudonyms Chuck Adams and Tex Bradley, Glasby wrote over 30 western paperbacks. Under the name of Manning K. Robertson, the author created the six-book spy series 'Steve Carradine' while also dabbling in the H.P. Lovecraft mythos with short-stories and a compilation entitled “Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth”.

His 1956 noir crime novel, “Blood on My Shadow”, was written under the name A.J. Merak. The paperback was later reprinted as “Rackets Incorporated” as part of the Badger Mystery line featuring authors such as Harry Whittington and Brett Halliday. To capitalize on the success of “The Godfather” film, the novel was again re-released as “The Organization” under the name A.D. Brent. Glasby later utilized the novel's central character, Johnny Merak, as the basis for a private-eye series totaling six books.

In the book's opening pages, we're introduced to Merak as he steps off of a plane near Orange County, California. As a former enforcer, Merak worked for Syndicate kingpin Maxie Temple. Through corrupt real estate purchases, Maxie controlled the hotel industry on Balboa Beach. Merak's role, while often physical, was more of an influence peddler within the city's political structure. With escalating pressure from the feds, Maxie fled to Mexico leaving Merak as a scapegoat. After serving a three-year prison stint, Merak wants Maxie to pay for his betrayal.

“Rackets Incorporated” serves readers the average revenge narrative. While treading familiar territory, we find that Maxie has already been killed by one of his former trustees. Fearing that his name is on some incriminating evidence, Merak wants to locate Maxie's killer and retrieve the documents. Along the way, he falls in love with an innocent beauty, who is later utilized as ransom bait by Maxie's ex-hitman Clancy Snow. Although the novel is written in elementary prose, the numerous moving parts in the plot makes for a complex and cumbersome reading experience.

With over 300 novels to his credit, I'm sure Glasby couldn't hit grandslams with every swing. If you're looking for a tightly-paced crime novel with an original concept, “Rackets Incorporated” isn't it. At just 157-pages, it took me a week to grind through it. There are much better books out there.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

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