Book Report: Blood and Fire The Executioner #221 (1997)

Book coverWell, well, well: This is the second Executioner novel I’ve read in a row where the title is meaningful (the first was Tiger Stalk). One of the characters in the book uses “blood and fire” as a bit of an epithet. Spoiler alert: As his name is not Bolan, it’s Bolan fire and the speaker’s blood.

So some new Jamaican custom drugs are flooding the east coast, and when the usual law enforcement moves in, they make some minor busts, but cannot move up the chain because someone in law enforcement is tipping them off. So the feds turn to Bolan, who, along with a trustworthy agent, runs some unannounced operations which lead to a Swiss syndicate’s chemical plant in Jamaica. So the set pieces include operations in the US and on the Caribbean island.

And, you know what? It was a pretty good book. It checks in at the now-standard 220 pages (well, then-standard), but it moves along well. It makes me almost sad or nostalgic that I have but one more entry in the series–which is just as well–I read a contemporary Bolan book, and it was longer and again bloated. Some of the 220-pagers seemed bloated when the 160-page authors were padding them out, but the last couple fill those pages without fat. On the other hand, any book over 300 pages can’t really be punchy, and that’s what I prefer in my men’s adventure fiction.

I did tag a couple things that seemed odd.

A figure partially showed itself around the corner at the end of the passage, leading with a nickel-plated shotgun.

A nickel-plated shotgun? I have never heard of such a thing. Handguns, surely. But I guess they exist; I just did a search for them and found them online. So I’m learning something new instead of trying to teach something to an author who might be long-dead.

Also, remember what I said about “no padding”? Well, I see clearly that the author likes the rhythm of prepositional phrase strings. Which I use a lot myself. Which others (*cough, cough* Strunk) would probably call “padding.”

“How far do you figure?”

Grimaldi looked back. “Two klicks, two-and-a-half, maybe.”

The soldier took out a pair of gloves and a D-ring from his kit bag. He slung the bag, attached the ring to his belt, then clipped it around the rope. Lastly, he pulled on the gloves. “Meet me back here in half an hour,” he told the pilot, then he kicked out of the helicopter door.

Once again, someone lacks a sense of scale; I remember dinging Lee Child for pacing issues.

So say a 5 kilometer round trip. Even if Bolan runs six minute miles, that’s almost 20 minutes in transit time to and fro. And six minute miles tend to be run on a track, not in the jungle. So this would be a very speedy reconnaissance indeed.

Eh, you know what? In the best of these books, like this one, the little things, the inaccuracies, are a fun little find, but not debilitating to the plot or the adventure. In some, like a pondrous Jack Reacher book, though, they provide the second tap, the coup de grĂ¢ce, to the enjoyment.

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