Friday, May 12, 2023

The Diamond Boomerang

There are a lot of vintage paperback authors that have military experience. I don't believe there is any authors we've discussed here that can match the experience and military level of Lester Taube. He began his military career in a horse artillery regiment. Later, he served as an infantry platoon leader during WW2 and participated in combat in Okinawa and Iwo Jima. During the Korean War, Taube served as a company commander and intelligence officer. During the Vietnam War, he was stationed in France and Germany as a general staff officer working in intelligence. Taub retired as a full colonel, moved to France, and began writing books. Based on my count, I believe he has eight total novels published. The only experience I have with him is his 1969 novel The Grabbers, which was later published in paperback by Pocket Book under the title The Diamond Boomerang

Dan Baldwin's tragic past is cleverly revealed in the middle of The Diamond Boomerang. Until that point, readers are left guessing as to the reasons Baldwin is drinking his life away. In the book's opening pages, Baldwin is in a North African bar broke and broken down. In first-person perspective, Baldwin looks up from the gutter he's been flung into and sees Tom the Trooper. Baldwin has a little nickname for everyone and everything. Thus, Tom the Trooper plays a big part in the book's engaging narrative.

Tom the Trooper offers Baldwin a mercenary job on a diamond heist in Southwest Africa. There is a large diamond cartel that controls seemingly endless fields of diamonds that spew out of an underground vein. The fields have so many diamonds that the cartel has to destroy or dump them in the ocean for fear of saturating the market and reducing value. Tom the Trooper, Ahmed the Arab, and Miss Steel Tits are in on the heist. After successfully placing the boat along the coast, the foursome evades the cartel's intricate security system and grabs the diamonds. Everything goes well. Until it doesn't. 

Like a great western story, the bad guys double-cross the main character and leave him shot up in the desert to die. In one of the best action sequences I've read in a long time, the foursome tangle with the security guards in high-speed chases, helicopter gunning, nautical escapes, and plain 'ole praying. But, the narrative unfolds when Tom the Trooper attempts to kill everyone to escape solely with the goods. Only, he didn't kill Baldwin dead enough. The author introduces an amazing little side story that puts Baldwin on death's door to fight with hungry vultures. Let me say for the record, I've never read a better story of a dying man fighting a vulture. That’s saying a lot considering I’ve read Robert E. Howard’s “A Witch Shall Be Born”. I read those pages twice just because it was so damned entertaining. If you read nothing else in this book, read the man versus vulture chapter.

The novel's first half is absolutely perfect and written in an unusual way with Baldwin telling the story in proverbs and bizarre analogies. Like these:

“Their miners are herded more rigorously than permanent members of a Georgia chain-gang, indentured longer than Greek whores in an Arab harem, and kept under closer observation than reigning movie stars.”

The book is saturated with this sort of thing, and either you will love it, like I did, or absolutely despise it. There probably isn't a middle ground. But, the second half of the book is a little more serious and on the nose. The second half is like a James Bond story as Baldwin meets the cartel leaders and falls in love with a woman connected to the whole thing. Baldwin then takes an assignment to find Tom the Trooper and recover the diamonds that he helped steal. This second half takes place in London on urban streets, swanky mansions, and high-rise apartments. It's a sharp contrast to the “soldier of fortune” storytelling in the book's opening half. I found that swerve slightly abrasive, but it still totally worked for me.

If there is that one book that symbolizes everything we love and adore here at Paperback Warrior – obscure, awesome books that no one has ever heard of – it is The Diamond Boomerang. It's probably the best book I've read this year and punctuates an author's name that I will search for in every dingy basement and dusty bookstore I find.

Buy a copy of this book HERE 


  1. I guess it'll have to be a dingy basement that turns up this fellow's books, because Amazon is selling this title for $125.00!

  2. There are a couple of cheap copies at Books Are Everything. Also available on Kindle from Amazon under the original title:

  3. Thanks Mark - just bought it on Kindle for a decent price!

  4. If you distilled a heaping measure of dated racism and chauvinism, and then added a full quart of Hai Karate cologne, "The Diamond Boomerang," by Leaster Taube is what you would end up with. Narrated by an alcoholic psychopath, the story crosses two continents and is never at a loss for action or tasteless dialogue. I absolutely loved it! Thank you Paperback Warrior for another great book recommendation.