Book Report: Copp for Hire by Don Pendleton (1987)

In my forthcoming novel, I use the word fuck in a couple of different forms on the first page (and seventeen times throughout the novel according to my aunt and godmother–or maybe that was my first one). This book uses the word tits on the first page. That’s definitely more directly evocative. I think I’ve learned an important writing lesson in it.

As you might now (especially if you at least scan the headlines for the book reports if you don’t outright read them), Don Pendleton started the Executioner series and wrote 38 books in it throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. This book is a departure from it, the beginning of a new series focusing on an ex-cop private eye named Joe Copp. Since he’s free from the constraints, such as they were, of the Harlequin publishing empire and is into the big time, he can talk in more gritty terms. So the book has a different flavor, more akin to the more modern styles of novels. It’s quite a jump, really, like going directly from old John D. MacDonald to Robert Crais, for example. I’d imagine Ed McBain made a similar transition, but it wouldn’t have been as jarring and would have been more graduated.

The book uses the first person narrator as opposed to the third person of the Executioner series, and it works better for the occasional philosophical asides that appear here as well as in the Executioner books. The book is thicker, too, but for the most part the first person narration carries it along.

The plot? Oh, I don’t know, something to do with a dead stripper and a politician who likes strippers and a party palace in Hawaii and connections with the Hawaiian underworld. Pretty standard stuff, but done better than the standard pulp crime fiction novelist.

I was pleased to note that this is part of a series, and I was even more pleased to discover I had bought more than one of these books (at the St. Charles Book Fair? That might be it). I think the series came out in hardcover first. I like it and have grown to like Don Pendleton so much that I’ll snap up his work when I find them, and I will seek out these titles in hardcover just because I want them for my collection. How’s that for an endorsement?

Books mentioned in this review:

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