Showing posts with label Butcher. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Butcher. Show all posts

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Butcher #33 - Go Die in Afghanistan

Here is The Butcher score so far. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being “burn the book now” and 10 being “use PTO and read it in one sitting.” 

#07 Death Race is a 1. Seriously, it is that bad. 
#23 – Appointment in Iran is like...a 7. It's a lot of fun. 
#01 – Kill Quick or Die is a 3. 
#12 - Killer's Cargo shuffles in at a 6.
#35 – Gotham Gore is a 1. 

Using the skills I acquired in Mrs. Miller's 6th grade math, that's an average Butcher score of 3.6. That's filthy ugly. But, my problem is that I own the whole series. I hope you don't.

Go Die in Afghanistan is supposedly a series stand-out. It was published by Pinnacle in 1982 and authored by Michael Avallone. It also has a great painted cover by the esteemed Earl Norem. At just shy of 200-pages, the premise has Butcher, aka “Iceman”, in Afghanistan to rescue a NASA nuclear missile expert from those pesky Soviet invaders. He knows he's never accepted a more crucial challenge. I know I just want to avoid placing a metal fork between the pages and microwaving the book.

The narrative begins with Butcher planning a departure from Tel-Aviv. After receiving a call from White Hat (a U.S. spy agency), Butcher is advised that his next mission starts right now. But first, he shoots an old villain named Peanut Man Pennzler and stuffs him in a hotel closet. Then, the hero heads to Afghanistan to rendezvous with the rebel forces opposing Soviet occupancy.

The rebels are intensely infatuated with Butcher and are well educated on his prior exploits with the mob. A fierce, sexy rebel named Tzippora advises Butcher that her “juices flow for him.” In a rather gross sex scene, Tzippora advises Butcher that it's that time of the month, but can't suspend her desires. Butcher admits that this “birds and the bees” encounter with Tzippora will be unlike anything he's ever experienced before. 

Eventually, Butcher and Tzippora are captured by the Soviets and harshly interrogated. Butcher uses the old explosive chewing gum routine (chew it, then throw it, kaboom!) and escapes. But, before the final dash, Butcher shoots his P38 from the hip and precisely places a bullet down the barrel of a Soviet's gun. Avallone describes Butcher as the equivalent of Robin Hood, Davy Crockett and Sergeant York. Then, all of the supporting characters die, Butcher returns home. The end.

As silly as this all sounds, and believe me its totally bonkers, Go Die in Afghanistan is still fun. At this point, I have to start treating The Butcher title as a modern pulp. His silly, over-the-top, completely impossible antics are no different than say...Black Bat or Masked Detective. It's zany 1930s and 1940s pulp hero nonsense, but more dirty and violent. 

I can't think of The Butcher as a serious spy series on par with Matt Helm or Nick Carter. It's the wrong way to look at this series. Suspend disbelief, put your mind into a pulp magazine, and then read The Butcher. It  may be the only way to gain any sense of enjoyment. If not, then you'll end up with an exploding microwave. 

Go Die in Afghanistan is a 6, bringing the average score up to...4. Yikes. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Butcher #07 - Death Race

The Butcher was a Pinnacle series of men's action-adventure novels that ran 35 installments from 1970 through 1982. While it's a bit confusing on who wrote the novels, the series is mostly authored by either James Dockery or Michael Avallone under the house name of Stuart Jason. While I despised The Butcher debut, Kill Quick or Die, I loved the 23rd entry, Appointment in Iran. I've always enjoyed action novels set in Alaska, so I was curious about the “cold weather” premise of the series' seventh novel, Death Race, published in 1973.

The novel's first 14-pages outlines the origin of The Butcher – real name Bucher (one word). He was a Syndicate killer who left the mob and then became a high-priced target for his former employers. Bucher joined a secret branch of U.S. Intelligence called White Hat and now serves his country by globetrotting to foreign locales and eliminating criminals. For Death Race, Dockery places the quick-draw crime-fighting hero in southwestern Alaska to complete a rather bizarre assignment.

White Hat has learned of a grave threat at a remote military installation called Dewline. The outpost is maintained as a joint venture between Canada and America to provide an advanced warning in the event of an enemy's attack by land, sea or air from the northern part of the world. The shadowy organization informs Bucher that Dewline's key personnel have been murdered and replaced by sinister doubles. Bucher is to learn why and how this invasion began and to provide pertinent details to White Hat regarding how to alleviate the situation.

Bucher makes the journey by snowmobile to the remote outpost. There, he infiltrates the facility as a research scientist and begins to dig into the details about the facility's origin, it's key components and the ultimate betrayal of American and Canadian intelligence. Dockery's utilization of Bucher's Syndicate killing power is vividly displayed as he targets the sinister doubles and fights the resistance man to man. Eventually, Bucher is able to eliminate....wait! Hold up. Let me stop right here.

The above paragraph was wishful thinking on my part. Here's what really happened...

Upon arrival in an Alaskan village called Kasynguk, Bucher visits a woman named Sonya Rostov hoping to learn about her brother's murder at Dewline and his subsequent replacement with an “evil twin”. However, Bucher falls in love with Sonya and leaves her house twice over the scope of 184-pages. Dockery spends pages and pages having Bucher confess his wants and needs to the needy, sexually-starved Sonya. Bucher and Sonya do the nasty at her place and at a relaxing bath house. Eventually, Bucher decides to marry Sonya and the two engage in an Alaskan ritual that most of the world calls a wedding ceremony. Bucher plans to leave White Hat and live off of his savings, learn to fish and bump uglies with Sonya for the rest of his life. Oh, and he leaves her house once to go to Dewline and kill an old foe named Dr. Wan Fu who fakes his own death in the syndicate because he had an extra brain growing on the side of his head that made him wicked and motivated him to attempt to destroy the lower 48 states by taking over Dewline while raising ravenous dogs to devour humanity. Yeah, Bucher goes and shoots that guy.

Death Race is a waste of paper. I wouldn't trust it to be a beer coaster for fear that it's awe-inspiring stupidity could somehow poison my beer and make me as stupid as the book's storyline. My personal bucket list entry #2 of “Visit Alaska” has been ruined by this preposterous, insanely written piece of literary garbage. It's clouded my frosty, wonderful visions of this snowy beautiful region of Earth and replaced it with the memory of this literary Hell. Reading Death Race was a race to the final page begging for the awfulness to end. Counting pages, counting paragraphs, counting the number of words to reach the end of a page. I took one for the team and read what could be one of the worst books of the series. Kill Quick or Die, as shitty as it was, could have been written by John Steinbeck compared to the steaming pile of trash known as Death Race. Stay away readers...for God's sake stay away. Hall of the doors wide for this fat load of crap.

Buy a copy of this beer HERE and don't tell anyone you own it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Butcher #23 - Appointment in Iran

Inspired by 'The Executioner', Pinnacle released a 35-book series titled 'The Butcher' from 1970-1982. Under house name Stuart Jason, a majority of the first 26 installments were written by James Dockery. These can be read in any order and the concept is fairly simplistic: Bucher was a crime overlord of the Syndicate's East Coast Division. After personal conflicts, he left the business only to find a price on his head from the international underworld. The 23rd volume is titled “Appointment in Iran”, published in 1977 with cover art by Fred Love.

The book begins with Bucher waiting on his 21 year-old sex doll Caroline to arrive at his apartment. Instead, he receives a call from the Mob stating they have his lover and request a meeting. Weary of the invite, Bucher hesitantly accepts and walks a half-hour to a nearby bar to discuss the details. After an introductory firefight – Koosh! - Bucher meets with lower echelon hustler named Jake the Juggler before being escorted to see kingpin Sleek Pazulli.

The proposal is intriguing. Pazulli and the underworld will collectively lift the hit on Bucher for one international favor – they want an assassination performed in Iran. They give Caroline back as an opening gift, then offer Bucher the job which he accepts. Only the details of the hit won't be provided until Bucher arrives in Beirut. The whole thing seems ill-advised, especially when Caroline mysteriously tags along. What's her purpose other than being a lousy lay?

The narrative's second-half is a tight thriller as Bucher attempts to learn more about the Syndicate's involvement in the Middle East. Along the way he faces Israeli intelligence, Palestinian terrorists and the Syndicate once he discovers the identity of the assassination target (no spoilers). Dockery's best ideas revolve around Caroline. She's sexy, flirtatious and dangerous, leaving Bucher an agonizing choice on which “rod” to use.

I almost threw this whole series out after reading Dockery's horrendous 'Butcher' debut, “Kill Quick or Die”. But, the cover art for “Appointment in Iran” seduced me and I'm thankful for it. The plot is easy to follow with a smooth narrative that led me to think this was written by Michael Avallone, who authored the last nine books of the series. But, according to Spy Guys and Gals, it was written by Dockery. I verified with a few resources online and it all led to the same conclusion. Nevertheless, “Appointment in Iran” was extremely enjoyable and provides a glimmer of hope that this series does include some gems.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, September 30, 2019

Paperback Warrior Podcast - Episode 13

We close out the month of September with a feature on Max Allan Collins and his series of books starring the hitman Quarry. Tom reviews "Quarry's Choice" from 2015 and Eric tackles the 23rd installment of 'The Butcher' series, "Appointment in Iran". Tom and Eric look back at the best of September and offer a sneak peek at October's lineup of reviews. Stream the show below or on any popular streaming service. Direct Downloads LINK Listen to "Episode 13: Quarry" on Spreaker.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Butcher #01 - Kill Quick or Die

The 35-book series 'The Butcher' was conceived by the Don King of the paperbacks – Lyle Kenyon Engel. Like many of these 70s and 80s action-adventure yarns, a series of literary works about a hot-headed, globe-trotting gruff crime fighter was really par for the course. Based on the overwhelming success of Pinnacle's own 'The Executioner', Engel formed 'The Butcher' in 1970 as a Pinnacle property possessing a rotating author schedule under house name Stuart Jason. Aside from Lee Floren's contributions to books 10 and 11, James Dockery wrote the first 26 novels. Michael Avallone authored the last nine.

“Kill Quick or Die” is the series debut and provides the obligatory origin. Bucher has enforced Syndicates for a number of years, but has a change of heart and leaves the rackets. Joining a mysterious crime-fighting organization called White Hats, Bucher receives assignments to battle international crime rings. In doing so, he must contend with the Syndicate and the lucrative contracts they offer for his demise. 

Our introductory mission is tracking down a Chinese scientist named Dr. Fong who's invented some type of micro-transformer that holds a lot of energy. If the bad guys can gain access to it's power, they control Earth...somehow. None of it really makes any sense, but the reader tags along as Bucher fights the baddies in places like Atlanta, Cairo and Israel. 

Meeting a former lover named Tzsenya, the two team-up on a Middle Eastern conspiracy to pipeline wealthy terrorists into the US. Bucher aims to stop the pipeline, but wants to learn how the pipeline works. Putting Dr. Fong and the micro-transformer horseshit aside, Bucher finds a torture fiend named Lobertini who melts his prisoners in the bowels of an old castle. Thus Fong, Lobertini, escaping the hitmen and avoiding Tzsenya's lovemaking invites (Bucher doesn't mix pleasure and business) is the entire premise of the novel. 

Normally, this sort of thing we could file under 'Killmaster' and for the most part just have a lot of silly fun. Unfortunately, Dockery is underwhelming as a storyteller. His abstract writing style (read that as flaky) has more in common with Joseph Rosenberger, another author that I steer clear of. With “Kill Quick or Die”, and subsequent entires, Dockery uses pulp language to describe 70s action. Our hero routinely says things like “Shuck your heater” or jabs with “Son of camel filth” insults. Dockery describes shots like comic books – Koosh! 

Overall, the plotting is so convoluted that I stopped caring by page 100. It's a literary minefield of bad writing. “Kill Quick or Die” is simply bad fiction. Here's the pot calling the kettle black – why would anyone spend time reading bad fiction when there's hundreds of golden gems of the 50s, 60s and 70s left to explore? I weep for the time I've wasted on so-called genre classics like 'The Butcher'.  

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Butcher #12 - Killer's Cargo

I have to wonder whether this title belonged to another book, since there isn’t really any killer’s cargo anywhere to be found. The villain here is a shadowy figure known only as “Number One,” who’s kidnapped a scientist who recently discovered a lethal poison gas, and now threatens to turn the entire American population into violent lunatics. The early chapters deal with the Butcher’s investigations in France, tracking down clues, and none of this material interested me very much. A shift in locale to Mexico didn’t help, but then things really caught fire in the last fifty pages, redeeming the novel with a lengthy climactic sequence of betrayal, torture, surprise twists and lots of action. While the Butcher is more of a secret agent than the Executioner-style vigilante I was expecting, he has the same mindset. He definitely belongs to the Brut, Brylcreem and black turtleneck fraternity of 1970s action-adventure heroes, and I liked him more and more as the book went on.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Butcher #35 - Gotham Gore

You know how a schlocky action movie will promise you all kinds of crazy, high-velocity mayhem on the DVD cover, but then the movie delivers little or nothing of that and you’re left feeling ripped off?

Well, that happens with action/adventure novels sometimes, and “GOTHAM GORE” is a standout example. It’s the 35th and final novel in the Butcher series, written by Michael Avallone under the pen name Stuart Jason. 

The first disappointment an unsuspecting reader will face is that the Butcher doesn’t live up to his name. If you’re hoping (as I was) that he’s a kill-crazy vigilante psychopath, forget it. He’s actually a former Mafia guy who turned secret agent for the government. Oh well.

As always in this series, the novel opens with the Butcher having to deal with a would-be assassin. Once that’s out of the way, we slowly work our way into the slow-moving story, and slowly begin to realize that none of the cool stuff depicted on the front cover of the paperback will be forthcoming. 

The blurb on the back assures us that the novel has “something to do with black magic, hand grenades and a Demon Master--- with a little Nazi know-how thrown in for good measure.” Well, here’s what you’re led to expect, and what you’ll actually get: 

What you want: The evil Satanic ritual depicted on the book cover, with the human sacrifice of a busty virgin 

What you get: The Satanist is about as creepy as your dad’s accountant; the girl is no longer a virgin (ladies can’t resist the Butcher) and there will be no ritual and no human sacrifice

What you want: The Butcher blowing away bad guys with a machine gun, like he does on the cover

What you get: One pistol, no machine gun. The Butcher shoots only two or three people in the entire book

What you want: That Nazi with the “know-how”

What you get: The Satanist’s henchman is a German guy who never does anything remarkable, other than getting the drop on the Butcher several times but stupidly never killing him

What you want: That “Demon Master”

What you get: No demon, no master

What you want: The Satanist is scheming to blow up New York landmarks like the Empire State Building. Let’s see stuff get blown up!

What you get: Nothing gets blown up but the Satanist and his hide-out

What you want: The book’s called “GOTHAM GORE”, so let’s have some!

What you get: No gore, just a couple of explosions, and they don’t happen in Gotham 

What you want: A fitting conclusion to the saga of 'The Butcher', since this is the final book in the series

What you get: He calls Headquarters, gives the boss his report, that’s about it (mitigating factor: the book is finally over)

Johnny Rotten once asked his audience, “Ever have the feeling you’ve been cheated?” Why yes, Johnny, I have. I’ve read “GOTHAM GORE”.