Showing posts with label Jack Pearl. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jack Pearl. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 10, 2023


Jack Pearl is a pseudonym used by Jacques Bain Pearl, a WWII veteran, an engineer, and a full-time novelist. He is one of those names that crime and military-fiction fans will drop from time to time, but no one really reads. Most of his books are out of print, and some have connections to various television franchises, which may complicate reprinting a majority of his literary work. After reading three of Pearl's novels, I quickly became a fan. He is a terrific straight-laced author that focuses on life in the military, law-enforcement, and fire-fighting. 

Paperback Warrior has a primer on Jack Pearl HERE and a lengthy feature for the 58th podcast episode HERE. While preparing for both of those projects, I was able to read synopsis' for a lot of his books. One that really intrigued me was Victims, a police procedural novel set on Christmas Day in New York City. The book was originally published in hardcover by Trident Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, in 1972 and by Pocket Books in paperback in 1973. Sadly, I believe the book is out of print now. But, you can read it for free on Archive.Org HERE. Supposedly the book was adapted into a film, but I can't locate any record of it at the time of this review.

The novel begins in a theater showing The Green Berets, starring the iconic John Wayne. During one of the firefight scenes, a man holding a shopping bag slips into a tiny room behind the theater screen. While he remembers his Vietnam War experience fighting the “Cong”, he gingerly drops the bag and presses a button on a transmitter that arms a bomb. Outside of the theater, he presses the button and the theater screen erupts into a wall of fire. Bleeding audience members panic in pursuit for the door holding burn and shrapnel wounds. The stage is set for a bomber villain.

Captain Archibald Bender commands a respectable bomb squad. At home over dinner, he is called by a local Sergeant and advised of the bombing. Through dialogue, readers learn that this is just another bombing in a string of domestic terrorism. The bombers are members of the Splinters, an independent black militant group of the Black Panthers. The bombings are a declaration of war on the whites. When Bender arrives at the station, Pearl introduces the supporting characters that will be assisting Bender in his investigation. 

Surprisingly, the book's plot isn't on the theater bombing. Instead, Pearl introduces one of the smartest plots I've read in a long time. A member of the Splinters arms a bomb on Christmas Eve inside a gigantic Macy's department store. But, in a mix-up I won't spoil for you, the bomber gift wraps the bomb to resemble a Christmas present. The idea was to drop it somewhere inside the store and allow it to detonate overnight. You see the Splinters don't want to kill anyone, they just want destruction. But, the bomber stooge accidentally places the gift-wrapped bomb inside a box of presents that are being gifted to the children visiting the store Santa. When little Donnie Evans sits on Santa's lap, he receives the little bomb. Donnie then leaves the store with his mother and carries the bomb back home and places it under the tree. Needless to say, Christmas morning for Donnie and his family will be a real blast. 

Through a string of wild events and accidents, Bender learns that a bomb is in Macy's. But, through the fast-paced interviews, interrogations, and procedural meetings, Bender still doesn't know where the bomb is and the time of detonation. The only person that can help Bender stop the Christmas bombing is the bomber himself. Pearl's introduction of the bomber and his conversations and assistance with locating the explosive device was simply brilliant. While the bomber doesn't actually know where the device is, he makes a deal with Bender to help find it. 

If you love Ed McBain's 87th Precinct novels, then Jack Pearl's Victims is a must-read. The procedural investigation and the collaboration of other law-enforcement personnel was similar to an excellent 87th Precinct book. The character flow was superb and the plot development was one of the best I've read. This is a suspenseful crime-fiction thriller that has a promising opener, but then delivers on the promise by the book's fiery finale. Pearl can write his ass off, and it shows in the narrative's gritty details. The clash of races, civil unrest, and the mournful regret of Vietnam War veterans were all key elements that enhanced the story. It doesn't get much better than this. Victims is a high recommendation.

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Paperback Warrior Primer - Jack Pearl

The first thing to know about Jack Pearl is that the name is a pseudonym of Jacques Bain Pearl. Pearl was born in Richmond Hill, New York in 1923. After obtaining his Master's at Columbia, Pearl spent nearly three years in the U.S. Army's Military Police throughout Africa, Sicily and Italy during World War 2

After the war, Pearl began a short career as an engineer, but quickly his goal of becoming a full-time writer took control of his life. In 1952, Pearl was able to get his feet wet by writing for a short-lived crime-drama television show called Gang Busters. He also began contributing short stories to the Men's Adventure Magazines. His earliest short story may have been "Submerge!", published by Saga in September 1953. He would go on to contribute short stories to Man, Climax, Impact and Boys Life. After a stint as an advertising copywriter, Pearl worked his way into a managing editor role at Saga and Climax

In 1961, Pearl began writing military non-fiction novels. The first was simply called General Douglas MacArthur, a life story of the man published by Monarch, which was followed by Blood-and-Guts, a life story of General Patton also published by Monarch. These two books instantly became hot sellers and Pearl was off to the races as a full-time novelist. A year later he wrote another one about Navy legend Admiral Bull Halsey and Famous Aerial Dogfights of World War 2.

The earliest work I've read by Pearl is his 1962 movie novelization Ambush Bay. This was a film released by United Artists and Pearl mostly sticks to the film's screenplay but has a few variations. I read the novel and it's set during World War 2 in the Philippines. Nine battle-scarred U.S. Marines and an Air Force radio man are attempting to penetrate a Japanese occupied region to rescue a U.S. Intelligence officer. I really liked it a lot and reviewed the novel HERE.

Pearl wrote a young adult, air force cadet series called The Young Falcons in 1962. The first was The Young Falcons, the second was Bruce Larkin – Air Force Cadet

In 1963, Pearl was still writing for magazines like Saga. In fact, Pearl started dabbling in Cryptozoology with some of his stories. 1964 proved to be a very productive year for the author. He wrote a non-fiction book called Battleground World War 1 as well as the movie novelization for Robin and the 7 Hoods. This was an all-star film showcasing Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Bing Crosby. That same year, Pearl rose to prominence with his book about historical assassinations called The Dangerous Assassins. In 1965, he also authored the movie novelizations for The Yellow Rolls-Royce and Our Man Flint, as well as a prison novel called Stockade, which was published by Pocket Books. 

One of Pearl's most popular novels was published in 1966. It was called The Crucifixion of Pete McCabe and it is about a man convicted of rape and murder that must prove his innocence. In 1967, Pearl authored a television tie in novel to the sci-fi TV series The Invaders called Dam of Death. That same year he also authored the first of a two book series of young adult science fiction called Space Eagle, which is loosely based on the Lone Ranger concept. Also in 1967, Pearl authored two books as television tie-in novels to the show Garrison's Guerillas. One was a young adult novel called Garrison's Guerillas and the Fear Formula. The other was simply titled Garrison's Guerillas, a paperback published by Dell that serves as a traditional WW2 men's action-adventure novel. I read and reviewed the book HERE.

In 1968, Pearl authored the movie novelization of Funny Girl. By the 1970s, Jack Pearl started to author books in a gritty, more violent tone that fits snugly with men's action-adventure of the time. This era of his writing begins with 1971's A Time to Kill, A Time to Die. It's about a reunion of old friends from World War 2 at an Aspen Ski Lodge. But within a half-hour, five are fatally shot by a sniper and it's up to the local police and a psychiatrist to close in on the killer and learn his/her motives. His 1973 book Victims is about a terrorist bombing attempt in New York City on Christmas Eve. 

Pearl wrote The Plot to Kill the President in 1972 and it was published by Pinnacle. This is a book that was inspired by the Kennedy Assassination. Pearl continued doing television and movie novelizations in the 1970s with a book called Nancy, a mob-themed one called Lepke. He also started tinkering with romance novels in the 1970s with books like Callie Knight.

Real life Newark Detective David Toma co-authored a handful of novels with Pearl based on his career in law enforcement. The first was co-written with Michael Brett (the same one that wrote Diecast) and two were written with Jack Pearl – The Affair of the Unhappy Hooker and also The Airport Affair

From 1977 through the late 1980s, Pearl teamed up with his cousin Donald Bain (author of the Murder, She Wrote series) to write mass-market romance novels under the name Stephanie Blake. This is what Pearl finished his career doing. He would pass away in Nassau County, New York in 1992. 

You can check out our Jack Pearl page HERE as well as listen to our podcast episode about the author HERE.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Paperback Warrior Podcast - Episode 58

On jam-packed Episode 58 of the Paperback Warrior Podcast, we discuss author Jack Pearl as well as many other topics including: Cancer perks! Ed McBain! Maltese Falcon! Len Deighton! Ace Doubles! Christmas in August! And much, much more. Listen on your favorite podcast app, stream below or download directly HERE

Listen to "Episode 58: Jack Pearl" on Spreaker.

Friday, June 5, 2020

The Cops

Author Jack Pearl (real name Jacques Bain Pearl, 1923-1992) was a prolific author of movie and television novelizations. From 1962's Ambush Bay to 1967's Garrison's Guerrillas, Paperback Warrior has mostly read and critiqued Pearl's novelizations. I recently acquired an original paperback penned by Pearl, a novel titled The Cops published by Pinnacle in 1972. I wanted to see how the author crafted his own stories free of any Hollywood commitments and restraints.

First and foremost, Pearl's literary voice is quite different with The Cops. The novel is filled with racial slurs, graphic sex, profanity and more mature subject matter in comparison to the author’s comical, lighthearted novelization of the film Funny Girl (1968). Perhaps a product of the racy 1970s, The Cops focuses on the emotional turmoil of an Irish family's commitment to wearing a police badge on the violent New York City streets.

The paperback’s main character is Tony Gargan, the youngest in a long dynasty of cops. His father retired as a desk sergeant for NYPD’s Western district while his older brother Sean works as a detective sergeant on the vice squad. The author also introduces the notion that an array of uncles and cousins were constables in a long lineage of law enforcement stretching back to Ireland. However, Tony is brand new to the badge and at the book's opening, is working the beat responding to routine burglary and assault dispatches. Within the book's opening chapters, Tony is promoted to prostitution stings, a short stint with vice and a run through the violent African-American ghettos and projects.

The Cops isn't an action novel like Supercop Joe Blaze, nor is it a procedural detective story like Ed McBain's critically-acclaimed 87th Precinct series. Surprisingly, Pearl's story performs more as a crime-drama with snippets of action – a suicide jumper, an apartment fire, fighting a rapist. The bulk of the narrative is spent on the uneven, strained relationship between Tony and his brother Sean. Once Tony gains some experience in vice, he begins to suspect Tony's involvement in the mob's gambling, drug and prostitution rings. While Tony is learning the ropes, it's Sean who explains that catching the notorious criminals involves rubbing shoulders with Syndicate underlings. It's up to Tony, and the reader, to determine the validity of that statement. Pearl also introduces a pleasurable romance angle with Tony and a prostitute named Alice, a fling that will eventually play a bigger role as the book reaches its narrative climax .

Overall, The Cops was an enjoyable reading experience and provided some insight on the law enforcement vocation. The family dynamics and the strained relationships made for a teetering, balance beam approach that I found entertaining – good cop, bad cop and the wives back home. If you want a balls out, furious police thriller, The Cops isn't it. If you are looking for a more measured, emotional experience with a fictional police force, Jack Pearl has delivered the goods. I found The Cops to be an entertaining, alternate approach to police storytelling and for that very reason I highly recommend it.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Ambush Bay

Jacques Bain Pearl (1923-1992), better known as Jack Pearl, was a talented author that thrived on writing movie and television novelizations. Along with novelizations of “Funny Girl” (1968), “Our Man Flint” (1966) and “The Yellow Rolls-Royce” (1964), Pearl also wrote a number of successful stand-alone titles and a well-received science-fiction series called “The Space Eagle” (1967). After reading his novel tie-in of the “Dirty Dozen” styled television show “Garrison's Guerrillas” (1967), I was curious about another of his film novelizations, “Ambush Bay” (1962).

The film was released by United Artists and featured a cast starring Mickey Rooney, James Mitchum and Hugh O' Brian, who accepted the role after Charleston Heston declined it. The film was directed by Ron Winston, a Michigan native who spent most of his career working on television series' like “Hawaii Five-O”, “Branded” and “The Twilight Zone”. The film was shot on location in the Philippines, an important factor considering all of the action is centralized in that region.

Pearl's book introduces us to nine battle-scarred U.S. Marines and a goofy Air Force radio-man who is vital to the narrative. The mission is to penetrate enemy lines in Mindanao, a rural landscape in the Philippines. Once there, the group must locate a U.S. intelligence officer who  has been submerged in the Japanese military as a spy. General MacArthur has scheduled a full invasion of a portion of the island, yet the U.S. has received chatter that the Japanese may already know about the invasion and have planted sophisticated mines along their heavily fortified coastal position. The secret agent has key details on where the Japanese have planned for the assault. If the men can rendezvous with the spy, they can obtain the information and then radio it to MacArthur so he can prepare an alternate strategy if needed.

I struggled in the book's opening chapter with the number of characters. However, my confusion quickly subsided as most of the team is killed in furious jungle firefights. The book's main character is Private First Class Air Crewman radio specialist Jim Grenier, a young soldier who is taunted by the hardened Marines. Grenier is just six-months into his military career having spent his entire life on a chicken farm. Grenier's sole purpose is to stay clear of the fighting and protect the radio at all costs. Unfortunately, with the team's ranks thinning, the inexperienced rookie is forced into the fight.

Pearl is a great storyteller and despite working from a script, I imagine he's adding dynamic details to make the two-dimensional characters come alive for the reader. The unbalanced relationship between Grenier and the iron-fisted Sergeant Corey is the novel's first half focus, yet as the novel progresses, the two men become closer allies. While Pearl spends a great deal of time on gunplay, the book's second half presents an entirely different mission. I won't spoil the fun, but I was surprised when the spy was eventually revealed. It's this change of pace that elevated the entertainment factor for me.

Despite the film's lukewarm reviews, Jack Pearl's novel was an entertaining blend of action, adventure and humanity that should please genre fans. As a Signet paperback, hopefully you can locate a used copy somewhere.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Friday, January 17, 2020

Garrison's Gorillas

The success of 1967's “The Dirty Dozen” led to countless imitators in fiction and on screen. The formula of “team-based” adventure thrived throughout the men's action-adventure genres of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Specifically, the film's use of criminals as American soldiers was often utilized. That premise was the basis for the 1967 ABC television show “Garrison's Gorillas”.

The show featured Lt. Garrison reforming four hardened criminals into an elite fighting force during WW2. The incentive for the prisoners was a complete parole from their remaining sentence...if they survived. While only lasting one season, the show gained a cult following. In 1967, military fiction writer Jack Pearl authored two spin-off novels, one as a young adult title called “Garrison's Gorillas and the Fear Formula” and the other as a mass market adult paperback simply titled “Garrison's Gorillas” (Dell). My only experience with the show is the “Garrison's Gorillas” novel.

The author assumes you are already familiar with the team and premise so the action begins immediately without much back-story. Lt. Garrison's orders are to locate a secret German base that is manufacturing the Messerschmitt ME 262 fighter jets. In order to do so, Garrison and his team disguise themselves as German officers and infiltrate a hotel meeting among the top German brass. Things immediately go awry when Garrison's disguise doesn't satisfy one of the German generals. Further, after locating the airstrip, Garrison's Gorillas learn that a second airstrip contains 60 of the jets. The team, while not breaking character, must stay ahead of Germany's inquiring leaders while also relaying intelligence back to the Allies.

At 160 pages, this was a swift and easy read. Some may find it lacking in heightened action or any sense of urgency to produce gunplay. But, overall it was enough to satisfy my WW2 craving despite the slow-burn narrative style. The characters of Casino, Goniff, The Actor and Chief were enjoyable but never overindulgent or distracting from the overall team concept. After reading the book, I sampled a few YouTube episodes and quickly realized I preferred these characters on paper instead of the screen.

The bottom line, “Garrison's Gorillas” should cater to fans of military fiction or to the old-timers that remember watching the television show when it premiered. This was my first Jack Pearl novel and I have two others I hope to read this year - “Stockade” and “Ambush Bay”.

Buy a copy of this book HERE