Showing posts with label Narc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Narc. Show all posts

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Narc #02 - Death of a Courier

Marc Olden (1933-2003) is a familiar name for crime-fiction fans. He authored series titles like Black Samurai, Narc (as Robert Hawkes), and The Harker File. In addition to series titles, Olden penned 17 stand-alone novels and two works of non-fiction. We've covered both Black Samurai and Narc and I was anxious to read more of his work. After enjoying his Narc debut, I wanted to revisit the character with the second installment, Death of a Courier. It was published by Signet in 1974.

You can read the series in any order. The gist is that John Bolt is a seasoned narcotics agent working for a government agency called D-3. The agency has ten regional setups covering all 50 states. Nine of these operations cover 49 states, the tenth covers New York City, where Bolt has worked for over a decade. He reports to Sam Rand, who then reports to a guy named Craven, D-3's head honcho. 

Death of a Courier lives up to its name. The novel's premise is that drug couriers for Vincent DeTorres, a Cuban mob, are being murdered by enforcers working for a New York mobster named Don Rummo. Bolt's entrance into this drug war begins in Central Park when a courier he is tailing is shot and killed by hired guns. Reporting the incident, Bolt then learns that couriers in big cities are being killed. He then gains the assignment of digging into the details, and this is where Olden shines.

Undercover, Bolt infiltrates DeTorres' mob by partnering with an enforcer named Ortega. There are numerous firefights, but the most memorable one entails 20-pages. In it, Bolt and Ortega find themselves in a Detroit airport to receive a large shipment of heroin. Thankfully, the deal falls apart and the scene explodes as these warring factions shoot it out in close quarters. Bolt's use of a .45 Colt and shotgun reminded me of the intensity of the opening scene in the series debut. Olden describes these action scenes with so much detail that readers can almost smell the cordite. 

While the war between rival mobs is really interesting, Olden introduces another exciting addition to the plot. There is an included backstory of Bolt's former partner, Paris, being brutally beaten by racists. In rehabilitation, Paris feels that the agency failed him. Months later, Paris kills the racists and enters a life of criminality. Bolt learns that Paris has re-emerged as an enforcer for Don Rummo and that he has vowed to kill seven Narc agents, one for each year that he served the agency.

Needless to say, Death of a Courier was simply awesome. Olden is a great storyteller and I felt that the narrative was soaked with realism. A year before this novel, the author wrote a non-fiction book titled Cocaine, a deep dive into New York's drug trade. Partially due to this, the Narc series doesn't seem terribly far-fetched like a Butcher or Death Merchant entry. Further, Olden's martial-arts studies lends credit to some of the fight scenes. 

If you are bored with the superhuman vigilante stuff, Narc is a must read title. These books are becoming more and more pricey, so I encourage you to get them now. Remember to search under Olden's pseudonym of Robert Hawkes. You'll thank me later.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Narc #01 - Narc

Narc was a violent 7-book run published between 1973-1975. The debut, simply titled Narc, was released by Lancer (Enforcer, Conan). The remainder of the series was published under the Signet brand. The author's name on the cover is Robert Hawkes, but this is really Marc Olden of Black Samurai fame. 

The “Narc” is John Bolt, a former New York City blue who comes down hard on police corruption. Lying in a hospital bed, Bolt meets a guy named Craven and is told about the Department of Dangerous Drugs (D3). They offer him $25,000 a year, ten weeks of training in DC and assignments all over the country working strictly narcotics. The book opens six years into Bolt's career with D3. Our hero is in La Playa with five other narcotics agents to arrest Antoine Georges Peray, a major player pushing $2 billion in heroin. This opening scene has a convoy of cars carrying Peray, Bolt, agents and local enforcers to the airport. Peray's guerilla fighters descend on the convoy in an effort to free their man. In what could be the best opening pages of any book, we find Bolt using a .45 and sawed-off shotgun as he weaves between and under cars cutting off the guerillas at the knees. His own men turn on him and we immediately realize that Bolt is an absolute badass. It's a massive firefight that has Bolt utilizing grizzly methods to bring Peray into the US. Unfortunately, this opening scene is really the best part of the book. The rest is about average. 

The novel focuses on a high-profile dealer in the US named St. James Livingston. Livingston has shut down all of the drug traffic in NYC while awaiting a massive shipment from Peray. His drought has increased tensions and hostilities in the city with users needing fixes and dealers needing cabbage. With Bolt capturing Peray, it clogs up the pipeline. Needing the drugs and the big payout, Livingston puts hits on Bolt, including targeting Bolt's girlfriend Pavanne. There's numerous side stories including Peray's daughter and a former colleague named Zan. The narrative is propelled with Bolt infiltrating gangs, Narc teams and collaborating with local law enforcement to stop Peray's shipment of white death into New York. 

This Narc debut is an effective, gritty 1970s action vehicle. While the beginning is clearly the best Olden has to offer, the average continuation of the storytelling is worth the price of admission. With Olden's writing style I was reminded of the equally good The Liquidator run by Larry Powell. It's a similar character with both authors writing in the same vein. Quick, punchy with equal shares of dialogue and action – Narc is definitely a good start to a well-respected series.

Buy a copy of this book HERE