Monday, June 10, 2019

The Vigilante #05 - Detroit: Dead End Delivery

Despite the off-putting artwork, 'The Vigilante' series is surprisingly engaging. Debuting for men's action publisher Pinnacle, the series began its six-book journey in 1975 under the direction of paperback promoter Lyle Kenyon Engle and writer V.J. Santiago. The series' through story is everyman Joe Madden avenging his wife's murder over the course of six-weeks. Following the geographical format of long running series like 'The Executioner', 'The Butcher' and 'The Penetrator', each novel presents a new city to host Madden's vigilance. This fifth novel, “Detroit: Dead End Delivery”, was published in 1976 and is only the second series installment to feature a painted cover.

Madden, a structural engineer by day, utilizes his consulting firm as a useful cover. As a frequent flier, Madden's newest assignment is an awards show in Detroit to accept a career accolade. But the Motor City has a lot more to offer, evident in Madden's social engineering on a back-alley where the novel's traditional opening chapter pits the “The Vigilante” against a criminal duo.

Later, Madden meets with an old friend named Hart and a private detective, Voll. Hart works for Regius Developments, an innovative manufacturer designing a new concept in automotive engines. Hart explains to Madden that the company has experienced an inside theft of two-thirds of their development. Hiring the P.I. Voll, the two suspect that an executive named Elliott Tander is behind the theft. However, the suspicion seems slightly misplaced; Tanner is married to the company's majority owner. What's the motive?

The Vigilante certainly doesn't place its limelight on executive, white-collar crime. Within 100-pages, “Detroit: Dead End Delivery” gains genre traction when Madden discovers the crime-ring. From hired killers to gambling debts, Madden stumbles into a powerful Detroit Syndicate that may have ties to his prior wet-work in Chicago and New York.

This is an enjoyable sixth installment that sets the stage for the series finale in Washington D.C. Madden's self-reflection begins to gravitate from anger and grief to remorse. In one poignant scene, Madden is approached by an attractive woman who asks about his career. His guilt-ridden, somber response conveys the character's blackest emotions: “I Destroy”.

After five-weeks and 42 kills (4 of which were female), the series finale, “Washington D.C.: This Gun for Justice,” is shaping up to be an explosive finish. Coming soon...

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