Sunday, March 8, 2020

Able Team #01 - Tower of Terror

With The Executioner's overwhelming retail success, it was just a matter of time before publisher Gold Eagle would expand the Mack Bolan universe. In June 1982, Gold Eagle launched two successful spinoff series - Able Team and Phoenix Force. The publisher used The Executioner's creator, Don Pendleton, on the covers of the first three novels of each series as a co-author. Of course Pendleton had no hand in the writing, it was only a marketing scheme to lure consumers familiar with the Pendleton name. Instead, house names were assigned to each series: Gar Wilson for Phoenix Force and Dick Stivers for Able Team. Like the later Bolan installments, the books were really penned by a revolving door of authors. We're examining the debut Able Team book, Tower of Terror, authored by L.R. Payne. It was the first of 51 total series installments.

In the Vietnam War, Sergeant Mack Bolan commanded a special forces unit called Team Able. Much later, Bolan's crusade against the mafia warranted Bolan to call upon his old team again. These events occurred in The Executioner #02: Death Squad. Unfortunately, the entire team was killed in that battle except Bolan, Rosario “ Politician” Blancanales and Herman “Gadgets” Schwarz. Both of these former members have served Bolan periodically throughout his war (and the book series). Carl Lyons is a former Los Angels Police Sergeant that became Bolan's ally during his West Coast mob fight. Under the direction of Bolan and Stony Farm director Hal Brognola, these three men combine as a trio to fight criminal cells within the U.S. Thus, Able Team is born.

In the series debut, a Puerto Rican terrorist group called FALN have claimed a Wall Street skyscraper. Thankfully, they chose to do this on a Saturday morning when the building is mostly empty. Quickly the terrorists commandeer the facility and plant bombs on nearly every floor. A Vietnam Vet turned business executive ushers a dozen employees to safety on one of the building's higher floors and the call goes out that the building is wired to blow. The NYPD calls the FBI who then calls Stony Man to get Able Team on the scene.

The problem lies in the fact that Able Team spends 160-pages of this 187-page novel running all over town hunting clues on who the terrorists are. Mercifully, they arrive at the building as the book closes but only have a brief encounter with the primary villains. This is acceptable if the hunting was more of a character developing storyline that delved into police procedural. Maybe it is my love of mid 20th Century crime-noir, but I found the investigation to be a sluggish exercise with very little to offer readers. Gadgets played with gadgets, Lyons rode around in a cab and Politician seemed like an unnecessary character here.

Needless to say, I hated this book. I counted the pages down just hoping it would end or the book would spontaneously combust. It isn't Hall of Shame material, but it is safe to say Able Team was unable to fulfill my reading pleasure. Perhaps another author will produce a different result. I'm in no hurry to find out.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

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