I was surprised to see I owned another in this series, which I now recognize (last year, I read Slave of the Warmonger, the seventh book in the series). I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since I bought them together along with a pile of Executioner novels in Clever in 2013. This volume is the 13th; the series itself only ran 18 volumes in the early 1980s (according to Fantastic Fiction).
This book is a bit more amateur than Slave of the Warmonger. The dialog is clunky, and there are extraneous bits of activity and interactions that don’t add to the story.
In this book, The Mercenary is reuniting with his gal when he recognizes a killer from Vietnam and pursues him through the airport, but the fellow escapes when the Mercenary is waylaid by airport security. His girlfriend, a reporter, is doing a piece on cults, so The Mercenary tags along and finds a cult that is killing experts on the cult. However, the cult is really a front for a KGB operation that’s kidnapping scientists, and the head man of the Russians is posing as a Christian preaching the evils of cults. Along the way, there are action set pieces and places where this hard-core killing machine acts very, very dumb to further the plot.
So this is probably my last foray into this series. I’m sad to learn (also via Fantastic Fiction) that this is the same author behind The Survivalist series, which I’d hoped to snag a few of somewhere. But you don’t tend to see them at book sales. Which is just as well, since I’m nowhere near finished with that stack of Executioner books that I picked up along with this book back in 2013.
This book joins The Ruins and the complete works of Horace Algernon Blackwood as a volume that goes from my to-read shelves to my “read” shelves (which, you can see now, is all a lie) without me finishing it. I mean, sometimes I pick up a book and read a bit of it only to decide I don’t want to read this right now, and I put it back on my to-read shelves. Few are the books where I decide I will never want to finish reading this. This book is in rare company.
This book was written after the author ran a series of seminars and workshops on what aging members of the World War II generation should do as they retired and suddenly did not have a job to define them. So, somewhere in it, perhaps there are lessons in identity and establishing multiple facets of one’s own identity to account for a time when a job will not tell you and other people who you are.
But it’s hidden among a bunch of meandering and repetitive prose. I made it 56 pages, which is further than the two bookmarks I found in the book (a snippet of the job want ads from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and a return address label). The book itself is only 203 pages, including big sidebar cartoons and quotes about employment and leisure. I carried it to a number of my reading locations, and I had to force myself to open it. Sometimes, I found staring at a cinderblock wall more rewarding than reading the book. I came to a list of things that might indicate your life was not in balance and you might have the wrong job, and I applied them to the time I spent reading this book. So I’m done with it forever.
Perhaps the message was on-point in 1997, but we’ve got a couple self-actualizing generations that have sought meaning outside work (or meaningful work instead of careers) since then. So many of the lessons aren’t applicable to more modern readers. Or they’re covered in the contemporary mindfulness movement, often more concisely.
I see it’s been updated for the 21st century; I hope the later edition has been significantly been rewritten. But I’m not risking it.