Very little is known about the literary career of former U.S. Army Special Services Security Agent George Fennell. In 1970, his men's action-adventure novel “Blood Patrol” was published by Pinnacle. At the time, the publisher wanted a war novel, and like so many paperbacks of its time, “Blood Patrol” featured a very familiar marketing pitch. The cover suggested that the contents were comparable to the successful 1961 film “The Guns of Navarone”, based on Alistair MacLean's 1957 novel. Fennell's novel is really nothing of the sort, but Pinnacle reprinted it in 1974 with an alternative, team-based commando cover hoping for a more lucrative return.
I don't know if Fennell had any plans for a series, but a sequel was released in 1970, “Killer Patrol”. That book was also auspiciously reprinted by Pinnacle in 1974, with mercenary-styled artwork and the promise that this installment was the second in a new exciting Mike Brent series. In “Blood Patrol”, the main character's name isn't mentioned until page 202...and it's Gunner Brent. That leads me to believe these were just two novels penned by a part-time author. Pinnacle's marketing scheme was probably just to release the two books as a series knowing there was never a third installment. Those gullible to invest blue-collar wages on this promising new series were probably disappointed to learn there were no more titles.
My experience with “Blood Patrol” is rather lukewarm. The novel begins with five American soldiers working for a man named Blaine, who in turn works in the Pentagon under some sort of secret, backdoor security operation. None of this is explained and maybe it doesn't have to be. We have five guys armed to the teeth parachuting into Ethiopia to kill a Russian operative. 1-2-3-Kill!
The novel's opener has Brent, in first person presentation, directing his crew with an emphasis on a wily German named Hans that states “Herr Kapitan” after everything he says. It's incredibly frustrating and I was praying this is one of those novels where team members can actually die. Unfortunately, Brent loses part of the team but Hans sticks to him like glue...for all 271-pages. After failing to secure their supplies during landing, the group must fend off dehydration, Russian sympathizers and a mission that's been compromised due to the 75 to 5 odds that Blaine failed to relay.
Fennell and his readers have a great deal of fun in the first 100-pages. There's a villager tortured and burned alive, an exhilarating firefight in the mountains and a lot of gritty, dusty fighting between warring factions. The second half of the book was drastically different and failed to maintain the momentum. In one goofy scene, Brent is captured, interrogated and then raped by a whip-snapping blonde cave wench. I think the author and I disagree on the definition of torture.
“Blood Patrol” is a light, easy read with plenty of action and bravado for seasoned adventure fans to enjoy. After the book's solid opening sequence, I thought it became too silly too fast. 'Able Team', 'Phoenix Force' and 'S.O.B.' all have die-hard fans for this type of literary fiction. If you enjoy that type of story, and I certainly do for the most part, you'll have some fun here. It's zany, over the top and brutally violent.
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