Daniel Streib (1928-1996) was a heavy contributor to the men's action-adventure genre in the 70s and 80s. After authoring a 'Nick Carter: Killmaster' novel, “The Night of the Avenger” (1973), Streib wrote a two-book series entitled 'Grant Fowler' (1971-1973) along with stand-alone titles like “Operation Countdown” (1970) and “House of Silence.” The 80s proved to be the author's most productive era with the 14-book series 'Hawk' (1980-1981), the 9-book run of 'Counter Force' (1983-1985), and two installments of 'Phoenix Force.” My first experience with Streib is a sleaze-vendetta paperback entitled “Brannon!” published by Pinnacle in 1973.
The book introduces readers to the small town of Timberland. It's a dying, rural community built from the lumbering industry by Alan Ward. The opening chapter (which is also detailed on the book's back cover) is set in 1952 and begins with four poorly-educated men that are sexually frustrated, all nearly fondling themselves in sheer boredom. The group of men, including the more mentally challenged Alfie, have a carnal desire for Alfie's hot sister Catherine. While she rejects their advances repeatedly, a new opportunity arrives.
A young American soldier named Brannon steps off the train and asks the men for directions. The group of men convince Brannon to seduce Catherine, so they can spy and masturbate from the bushes. The handsome, uniformed Brannon has no problems seducing Catherine and escorts her to a nearby lake to do the deed. However, it turns out Catherine is Alan Ward's daughter. To enhance the evening's activities, one of the men runs and tells Ward and his men that Brannon is raping Catherine at the lake. When the men arrive to assault Brannon, Catherine saves face by screaming, “RAPE!” After beating Brannon's brains out, one of the men whips out a knife and...cuts off Brannon's genitalia making “Brannon!” the first novel I've experienced where the male hero literally has no penis.
After these events, the book flash-forwards to 1973 and Brannon has become a tycoon in the paper industry despite stiff competition. Suave, wealthy and powerful, Brannon is frustrated with his...lack of a penis. He later says it's “the end of his immortality” and describes his sexual experiences as gazing at whores through windows. However, the thing that raises Brannon's interest is Timberland. Not only does he want to enact revenge on the town, but he's still madly desiring Catherine. His one encounter with the woman 21-years ago keeps him up (read that as sleepless) at night. Determined to have his revenge, Brannon erects a plan to cut off Ward's resources while also locating the group that castrated him.
It's hard to appreciate Streib's writing considering the dumbed down material the author was working with. Timberland's men are neanderthals, seemingly spending their days pondering sex. Catherine is a shallow idol, Ward's character isn't convincing and Streib seems to focus a lot of his creative direction on Alfie's sexual escapades with himself. Brannon is the only hero, but he's a racist multimillionaire that I hated.
“Brannon!” is a sleazy endeavor, yet lacks any graphic sex. It's like taking a blind man to an aquarium. Where's the enjoyment if we can't see it? “Brannon!” isn't even the bitter revenge yarn it aspires to be. Instead, it's just a limp effort that never peaked my interest. Slice this one from your reading list.
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