Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, June 30, 2017


Stone, M.I.A. Hunter:  Desert Death Raid by "Jack Buchanan" (in this case, Bill Crider) (1989)

The ever-prolific Stephen Mertz wrote a lot of paperback men's adventure novels early in his career, contributing to Don Pendeleton's Executioner series, and creating several series of his own, including this one.  Mark Stone, former Green Beret and former P.O.W., took upon himself a mission to rescue other Vietnam P.O.W.s.  This he accomplished in the bloodiest way possible, aided by Hog Wiley, an East Texas good old boy mercenary, and Terrance Loughlin, a British commando.  (Wiley and Laughlin, although good friends, tease each other in such a fashion that they could have been part of Doc Savage's team or two of Nick Fury's Howling Commandos.)  As the series went on, the group began to used off the books by the U.S. government for special missions, often far from the steaming jungles of Southeast Asia.

Desert Death Raid, one of three in the series written by Bill Crider, brings Stone's team to the desert country in North Africa where the country's president, Felix Sholumbe is barricaded in his presidential place by an army of rebel fighters.  With Shalombe are his daughter, several advisors, and an important Russian defector.  Stone's mission is to rescue Shalombe and the Russian and get them safely out of the country.  To do this Stone must follow his usual plan of action:  improvise.

Stone and his men manage to get the President and four others out in a helicopter.  The body count is relatively minor.  The rebel general sends three fighter jets to blast the helicopter our of the sky.  Stone's men managed to shoot down two of the jets before their helicopter crashes.  Everybody on the copter survives, but they are in the blistering heat of the desert without food or water.  Then come a large group of desert bandits, followed by some sixty rebel soldiers, and the body count really begins to climb.

Of course that's not all.  The president's daughter is cozying up to her father's brutal head of security.  The Russian defector, who turns out to be a beautiful woman, is cozying up to Stone, while at the same time is having secret confabs with the president's gay assistant.  The rebel general is saddled with a Russian "advisor" who scorns him.  The president's wife has been kidnapped and held prisoner for almost a year.  The neighboring country (Libya) is rules by an unnamed dictator, along with the Russians, has plans for when the rebels control the country completely.  There's a major drug trafficking ring operated in the area.  And there are camels.

Camels.  Why did there have to be camels?*

Desert Death Raid is a quick, highly readable jaunt in the men's action adventure genre.  It's not a great book, nor does it claim to be.  The action moves fast, the plot twists just enough, and the body count is very high, making it -- dare I say it? -- a bloody pleasure.

If you like this sort of thing, it's a good way to spend a couple of hours.

*Bill Crider returned to camels when ghosted the adult western novel The California Camel Corps as by "Jon Sharpe" (#287 in the Trailsman series).  But camels will never be as important to him as alligators, wild boars, or Bigfoot.