Not much is known about author Everard Meade. I learned he was born in 1917, and although I could find no obituary, the odds of his continued longevity aren’t promising. As far as I could tell, “Murder Squad” from 1978 was one of a handful of war and political thrillers he authored in that era. It was published by low-end paperback house Major Books of Canoga Park, California. I’m always hoping that I may have stumbled upon a lost classic of Men’s Adventure Literature, so I gave it a read.
Our narrator is unemployed Vietnam vet Mike Gordon who arrives at a secret farm quietly guarded by the U.S. Marines for a meeting with his former commanding officer. Gordon is offered a job as an independent operative for a top-secret government agency with an assignment of dismantling a Soviet operation in Italy counterfeiting U.S. currency. The Russian project has a goal of collapsing the American economy through injecting a tidal wave of funny money into global circulation. Destroying the counterfeiting operation in Italy is too thorny of an operation for the U.S. Treasury Department, so our leaders turn to the secret agency on the farm to handle the violent overseas mission.
After accepting the assignment, it’s time for Gordon to meet the team. We have a judo expert, a pistol marksman, a safecracker, an electronics expert, and a couple other guys whose skills just seem to be general badassery. Gordon is one of the fluent Italian speakers on the team, and he is trained on the manufacturing of U.S. currency by the Bureau of Printing and Engraving just in case the assignment needs an undercover man. The team is called “The Barbarians” after the warriors who vanquished Rome in the past.
As it becomes clear that The Barbarians intend to not only destroy the counterfeiting equipment but slaughter everyone involved in the engraving operation, Gordon begins to have some misgivings about the integrity of the mission. And that’s where “Murder Squad” diverges from other team-based action novels. Gordon is a man of ethics who comes to the realization that he’s joined up with a team of kill-crazy nutjobs, and he needs to figure out what to do next - a little like changing a tire on a moving car.
The author’s writing in “Murder Squad” was pretty good - nothing flashy, but serviceable. I also found the setup to be very compelling and the climax to be exciting. However, it lagged quite a bit in the middle when the Murder Squad was trying to infiltrate the counterfeiting operation in Italy. As such, the core of the paperback was fairly dull. Overall, the book was about as good as a mediocre Mack Bolan paperback - nothing special but not awful enough to hate. Should you read this one? Life is short. You can do better.
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