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Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr., 1924

December 28, 2012

BOOK REVIEW 

Atlantic Scramble (1982)
by Don Pendleton and Gar Wilson


For the last Friday’s Forgotten Books of 2012 at Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinase, a look at a fast-paced all-action paperback about a small band of combatants fighting America’s dirty war.  

The US Navy is carrying contraband for Jeddah.” 

In Atlantic Scramble, the third novel in the action-packed Executioner series Phoenix Force, Mack Bolan’s five-man army takes on Libyan terrorist Khader Ghazawi and his ruthless killers who steal America’s super-weapon, the Dessler Laser Submachine Gun, and make off with it in a recommissioned subchaser, the U.S.S. Beaumont.

The Arab terrorists, who belong to an outfit called Red Anvil, a spin-off of Jeddah, incapacitate the Pentagon’s Red Bluff Arsenal, a secret installation at Odessa, Texas, drug its personnel into zombie-like creatures, kill and maim dozens of soldiers, and escape with the deadly weapon—all under America’s nose though not without inside help.

But, with Mack ‘The Executioner’ Bolan’s nameless, faceless and fearless warriors close at hand, the Pentagon and the CIA have little to worry about. The five mercenaries led by Yakov Katzenelenbogen, a French-Israeli commando, lose no time in zeroing in on the US vessel cruising at high speed through the Atlantic in the dead of night and later taking the fight to an old Russian diesel U-boat.


Yakov and his four men—Gary Manning, the incredibly strong Canadian explosives engineer; Keio Ohara, the unusually tall and deadly Japanese martial arts expert; David McCarter, a rude, rugged and ruthless former SAS operator and pilot; and Rafael Encizo, a Cuban survivor of Castro's prisons expert in underwater warfare—are loyal to their one-armed leader and care for each other. Together, they make short shrift of the entire mission which is carried out in top secrecy and without the official stamp of the American establishment, as is usually the case with such covert operations.

The five Phoenix Force warriors, first introduced in Argentine Deadline, work for Stony Man, a secret anti-terrorist organisation formed by Bolan and run by Hal Brognola, its project director, with the occasional involvement of ace pilot Jack Grimaldi. Phoenix Force and Able Team are two spin-offs of The Executioner series created by American writer Don Pendleton. These books have been published by Gold Eagle since 1982.

The initial 30-odd Executioner novels showcasing the daring, and sometimes unimaginable, exploits of Mack Bolan were written by Pendleton himself while most of the latter stories, including those in Phoenix Force and Able Team, have been written by various authors under the popular pseudonym Gar Wilson.

Author Thomas P. Ramirez © Allied Authors
The initial Phoenix Force novels, including Atlantic Scramble, were ghostwritten by Thomas P. Ramirez who authored more than 100 erotic novels and contributed stories for several magazines like Boy’s Life, American Mercury and American Heritage. Aside from Don Pendleton himself, Ramirez is one of the master storytellers of the Executioner series, acquiring a distinct and engaging style of his own.

There is never a dull moment in Phoenix Force novels. Most of the stories that I have read defy reality unlike the authenticity of the plots in, say, a Tom Clancy or Len Deighton novel. The five battle-hardened men are so armed, in a technologically advanced scenario, as to give the impression they are about to start World War III and they usually are, in a limited war theatre, the outcome of which is explosive with plenty of death and destruction. When Phoenix Force rages, “Hunt the bastards down!” they really mean it.

I’m going back for more…

4 comments:

  1. I've never read any of the EXECUTIONER or REMO WILLIAMS style series though I keep reading really positive reviews like your Prashant so I'll have to die in - in the meantime, hope you have a great new year.

    All the best,

    Sergio

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    1. Sergio, you can read the Executioner series without your thinking cap on. There's plenty of mind-blowing action though our heroes, be it Mack Bolan, Phoenix Force or Able Team, never seem to get hurt in a serious way. There have been changes in the series but the essential Executioner style of warfare has remained the same.

      A very Happy New Year to you and your family, Sergio. I hope you have a great year too.

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  2. I've got a couple of these but haven't read them. I'm glad to hear they are good. I will move one up on my reading list.

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    1. Charles, I am pretty hooked to the three series making it a point to read at least a few every year. It's like watching an Arnold Shwarzenegger action movie.

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