'The Vigilante' series was written by Robert Lory and released by the popular men's action adventure publisher Pinnacle. This six-book run began in 1975 with Joe Madden's descent into vigilance after witnessing his fiance's brutal murder on a New York City subway car. Each book's release constitutes one week in Madden's life since the slaying occurred, but also pinpoints one geographical city where Madden performs consulting work for an engineering firm. The daytime career simply gives him a clever outlet to become a night vigilante ridding the streets of crime. His forages include New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit and now, for this final installment, the nation's capital.
After the prior novel's events in Detroit, Madden's face has appeared in drawings throughout Syndicate networks. His disposal of corruption has created some fractions within the mob and they want him eliminated. “Washington, D.C.: This Gun for Justice” looks as if it will continue that thread, evident in the book's intriguing opening pages. By circling back to events that started the series, the murder of Madden's fiance, the author revisits some familiar faces from New York City. Madden has finally tracked down a face he originally saw in police photos after the murder. Tracing his stolen credit card, Madden violently kills one of the original murderers, Willy Jefferson. That's 54 kills in 5 weeks for those keeping score at home. After contemplating the whereabouts of the final two killers, Madden eases back into his daytime role by accepting an assignment in D.C. He is to testify before Congress on illegal practices by big corporations. None of that matters as it's a convenient way to have Madden kills wrongdoers in a new town.
With an engaging opening, I was hopeful this book would have ends meet and wrap up this story-line in a rousing, bullet-ridden finale. Instead, the author inserts a 140-page shit pile of religious zealots running a small stretch of street in a D.C. suburb. As a 70s and 80s action enthusiast, I've had my fair share of evil preachers in fiction. This one involves the stereotypical Reverend Moses and his Church of the Divine Gift. The party in the front promises a new day of spiritual euphoria for its cult congregation, but the rear action has suitcases of heroin and cash being streamlined into black mobsters wanting a piece of the white majority's mob.
Unfortunately, Santiago spends pages upon pages in senseless dialogue between Reverend Moses and his pulpit posse. It's unusual, as most of the dialogue and action in these books are traditionally spent with Madden. That's not the case with this entry and the end result left me exhausted and disappointed.
There was so much left to unpack with this series, from the original detective who assisted Madden in the first book to tracking down the remaining NYC killers. The whole Mob hitman angle never reached fruition nor did Madden's full evolution from grieving fiance to ruthless vigilante. There was a lot left unsaid, but due to declining sales (and horrific artwork) this series was canceled. I'd like to provide closure for myself and think that detective Leo Delancy has put the map-dot pieces together and realized that Madden's vengeance has led to 60+ kills across the country. The book's final page does reveal that DeLancy is onto Madden. My fantasy conclusion has DeLancy meet Madden at the airport, arrest him and that is the logical conclusion. However...we'll never know Madden's fate. Six books, six weeks, six cities and approximately 900 pages later...still no closure.