Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Trapped!! By the Death Merchant!!!!


Occasionally-- say, about two or three times a year-- I indulge in my dirty little reading secret. That is, I break open the stash of "men's adventure" books from the '70's. I hide it right behind the porno and the ELO collection.

The Executioner. The Death Merchant. The Destroyer. Able Team. Etc...

Most of them are not very well-written, and I honestly can't recommend them (except maybe The Destroyer, which always had its tongue firmly in cheek) but they are so fast-paced, so nicely plotted, that I can't resist taking an evening once in awhile to plow through one.

Did I say nicely-plotted? Well, that's not exactly true. Most of the plots are pretty thin, honestly. So I just told you a lie.

No, the real appeal of these books is the over-the-top violence. It's almost erotic sometimes, the loving detail The Executioner books will lavish upon every exploding head, every bullet ripping into someone's guts, every knife slid across a throat.

And the exclamation marks!! Wow!!!

I think the writers of '70's men's adventure paperbacks used up all the exclamation marks, just like the baby boomers used up all the social security. That's why we have a shortage of punctuation these days.

Here's a sample, from one of the Death Merchant books:

"Trapped!... Another snarl of shots. More messengers of death drumming close to Camellion's head! More brick splinters stinging his cheeks!

...The Browning in his hand may as well have been a toy pistol!"

Exciting, isn't it!!!

I actually learned a bit about violent detail from these books when I was a younger writer. "I shot him in the head. Bone and bits of brain matter blew out the back of his skull." Yeah, I wrote that, several years ago, stolen almost line by line from the Executioner.

But I left out the exclamation marks!!!


  1. I always wanted to read a few of those. Are they available online?

  2. You can probably find tons of them for cheap on E-bay. I have a used bookstore near me that sells them for 50 or 60 cents each-- which, honestly, is about all most of them are worth. For someone with your distinguised taste, Ben, they might be unbearable... but I'd be curious to see what you think of the old Destroyer books, especially.

  3. I have a weak spot for everything supermanly. Those books are how they tried to lure men into reading like they did with women and harlequin, so I'm rather curious. Plus, I'm sure this is not even 200 pages right? So suffering is only temporary in that case. *hittin' eBay for Destroyer books*

  4. Somehow I missed these books growing up. I'm not sure how -- because they would have been the literary equivalent to the movies I loved to watch. So, I'm just catching up with them now, and some of them can be fun, breezy, action-packed yarns. They're not Tolstoy, but Tolstoy ain't no Penetrator.

  5. "Tolstoy ain't no Penetrator"... a statement for the ages!
    Actually, I haven't read the Penetrator yet, but I have two on the shelf. "The Penetrator"... heh. Hard to say that with a straight face...