Showing posts with label Dan Streib. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dan Streib. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Hawk #01 - The Deadly Crusader

Along with the nine-book run of Counter Force (1983-1985), author Daniel Streib's most successful contribution to men's action-adventure was the 14-volume Hawk series (1980-1981). The series' debut, The Deadly Crusader, was published by Jove and introduces an international hero named Michael Hawk. While the novel's artwork was alluring, consumers may have been misled by the character's dangerous profession. Instead of a globe-trotting spy spewing hot lead, this hero is a freelance reporter chasing hot scoops.

The novel begins by explaining that Michael Hawk was voluntarily arrested after breaking into a Russian psychiatric hospital. His prison experience was a planned expose on the happenings in and around the Iron Curtain. In the book's opening chapters, Hawk is returned to the US via a cruise ship headed to a sunshine-drenched Greek island where Hawk begins writing down his prison experiences while delighting in the riches of horny young female tourists.

By page 70, Hawk finds himself wandering around on the Greek island when a shootout occurs leaving one man dead. In an attempt to learn who was killed, Hawk attracts the attention of a wealthy dictator and soon finds his own life in jeopardy. Once his weekend lover is killed, Hawk demands to know more about the mysterious island and the dictator. Streib's narrative, while stretched sinewy thin, offers some insight to the character's backstory while attempting to propel the current story arc forward.

Needless to say, The Deadly Crusader is an uneven and thin narrative to explore. In fact, through the book's 187 sluggish pages, very little actually happens. The author's story never comes to fruition simply because nothing is ever explained to the reader. Streib just assumes readers understand all of the story's nuances through telepathy. In fact, I'm not sure this began as one full story. My theory is this book is a culmination of broken stories that were never finished and instead were just sewn up here to resemble something approximating a series debut. I speculate that Jove, who already had a smash hit on their hands with Nick Carter: Killmaster, thought they could fool their consumers into buying another “similar” series, so they concocted the idea of Hawk. Regardless of Hawk’s creative genesis, this paperback is terrible and I can't imagine the series improved thereafter.

Purchase a copy of this book HERE

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


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.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, November 4, 2019

Paperback Warrior Podcast - Episode 18

You’re in for a real treat this episode as Tom discusses his favorite series of all time, the Matt Helm books by Donald Hamilton. Eric reviews “Death Squad #1” by Dan Streib while Tom covers the inspiration for the movie “Bullitt” starring Steve McQueen, a paperback titled “Mute Witness” by Robert Pike. Stream below or on your favorite podcast service. Download directly at (LINK). Listen to "Episode 18: Matt Helm" on Spreaker.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Chopper Cop #01 - Chopper Cop

'Chopper Cop' debuted in 1972 as a Popular Library paperback. Author Paul Ross is actually Dan Streib, the man behind 70s action oriented series' like 'Killsquad', 'Hawk', 'Steve Crown' and 'Death Squad'. The series would last three installments with Streib writing the first two. While the cover, font and badge logo would indicate a high-paced action formula fitting of Streib's writing style, the end result is an entirely different type of story. Personally, I think this was probably a grand misplacement of what literary power-broker Lyle Kenyon Engel envisioned when hiring Streib. Engel would later denounce the author, furthering the theory that the supply didn't meet the demand.

Think of series debut, “Valley of Death”, as an eerie, Gothic investigative novel. Odd I know, but Streib's use of heavy sea fog, moonlit graveyards, old mansions and an abandoned mining town are the perfect backdrops for this dense thriller. They are almost characters themselves, springing up from time to time to introduce darkness and death.

No, this isn't the long-haired, biker riding “Easy Rider” that's depicted on the book cover, but our hero Terry Bunker does dress the part. He works for the California Governor, sort of a special operative piece that is utilized by leadership as an official State Department of Criminal Investigation...investigator? He receives requests from the Governor to solve crimes. He's extremely successful, allowing him to refer to leadership as “hey guv” despite hatred from his departmental peers.

The debut mystery is a rather grim one; young wealthy women are committing suicide in San Francisco and Sacramento. Yet, they are reaching out to their loved ones posthumously through bizarre phone calls or supernatural apparitions lurking just outside the window. The crime? Whoever is behind the ghostly apparitions are ransoming the return of these resurrected dead girls for millions of dollars. The culprit might be a strange seaside cult that's sacrificing drugged women for cash. But that doesn't explain the seemingly life after death undertaking of these heists.

Bunker isn't as funny as say...Kolchak, Fox Mulder or Carter Brown's bumbling detective Al Wheeler. But he's no Shaggy either. This character is vulnerable, even scared at times as he navigates ghosts and graves to find the criminal leader. But he can get the job done. It's a slap in the face to readers looking for a hard-edged, bone-breaking chopper cop. But once you can forgive the creator, this is a really fun mystery that had some longevity. I could see this sort of thing working on multiple levels, whether supernatural or just a “crime of the week” featuring some abstract scenario. Unfortunately, the struggle between publisher and author led to this being canned shortly thereafter. I'm on the hunt for book two.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Death Squad #01 - Gang War

Dan Streib penned a short-lived two book series entitled 'Death Squad' in 1975. This Belmont Tower publication was written under the name of Frank Colter and had a similar outline as the 1975 five volume series “Kill Squad”, also written by Streib as Mark Cruz (credit to Glorious Trash blog for that tidbit of info). The idea is a familiar one – three cops take to the streets to fight crime without a uniform. The idea is that they can accomplish far more by spending their own personal time and fortunes on fighting crime than the pension/benefit loaded daytime gig. Thus the debut, “Gang War”, comes to fruition.

The novel is set in San Diego with an opening scene involving a 15-yr old girl being raped by a trio of young men. Officers Paul Scott and protagonist Mark Sanders (Mike or Mark, the author changes the first name nearly every chapter) arrive on the scene just in time for Scott to be shot to death in the groin. Another two officers, Sam Durham and Raul Gomez, arrive on the scene and all agree to either take a week off or dip into their sick-leave bank as the best course of action. 

Together, the two piece together the rape scene and trail the whereabouts of a pin that was found by the girl. It's a yacht club pin and Sanders knows the location. Once there, he stumbles on a high-society group of young Berkley kids who are all members of a violent union entitled Terrorist Liberation Army. Those chapters find Sanders and Durham on a high-speed boat chase off the coast tracking a young terrorist/rapist. Afterwards, the trio gets hit with a browbeating by their superiors.

In a scene worth expansion, Sanders beds down a young woman named Jessica, suspecting she may be an involuntary member of the group. Afterwards, Sanders apartment is bombed with the author's gory explanation of eyes and limbs flying. Knocked off in the blast is a housekeeper. Next, the trio are lured into a hostage negotiation at the city zoo where Sanders is ambushed and pushed into a deadly firefight among the zoo's many tourists. The author has one grandmother slayed with a point blank face shot while another man is mowed down by whirling helicopter blades. 

The finale has Sanders facing the last remaining terrorists in a warehouse. Shockingly, the author has a penchant for groin shots and has a woman mercilessly shot in the vagina (with the prior shot severing a breast!) and another man shot through the scrotum. That's three distinct genitalia shots if you are keeping score at home. The suspense build-up is just the idea that Jessica could be an innocent pawn in the terrorist front or the dreaded mastermind. I'll leave the conclusion for you to discover. 

Streib is an average writer at best. “Gang War” comes across as a cookie-cutter team-based vigilante yarn. Take it or leave it if you are into that sort of thing. Being only two books, I'll probably read the sequel for giggles. 

Note – Despite the cover, Sanders does not utilize a miniature lightsaber. 

Purchase this book HERE