Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Able Team, Louis L'Amour and Sudden

In my first blog post of 2020, I wrote about my abysmal reading through most of last year. No excuses. But that did not stop me from buying more books, some of which I highlighted in that post. Here are three paperbacks—two westerns and a thriller—that I bought secondhand in 2019. I'm particularly delighted with the acquisition of Able Team and Sudden, which are rare finds in my part of the world.

Ironman is the 19th book in the Able Team action-adventure series written by two pseudonymous authors, G.H. Frost and Dick Stivers. The series—a spinoff of Mack Bolan: The Executioner created by Don Pendleton—was first published in 1982 by American Gold Eagle publishers.

I have been collecting Mack Bolan thrillers and the spinoffs—Able Team, Phoenix Force and Stony Man— for nearly a decade and own some 25 novels, including a few written by Pendleton himself. The books remind me of my teens when I used to collect James Hadley Chase, Nick Carter and Perry Mason, the originals of which are still available in secondhand bookshops in Mumbai.

Synopsis: "Able Team's Carl Lyons travels to the cloud-swept Sierra Madre without his partners and without his weapons. But what was supposed to be well-earned R&R turns into a nightmare of conspiracy and terror when a Fascist international surveillance team identifies Lyons as one of the American specialists who wrecked Unomundo's attempt to seize Guatemala two years earlier."

Carl 'Ironman' Lyons is an old Able Team hand. As a bright LAPD detective, Lyons was tasked with bringing Bolan in—dead or alive; that is, till the Executioner saved his life. Later, he is recruited by Hal Brognola who heads a special organised crime task force.

Western fiction is one of my favourite genres. I like to think of Westerns as the sum total of most other genres—crime, mystery, suspense, action, romance, politics, war, religion. So I'd no hesitation in picking up the Bantam edition of Hanging Woman Creek by Louis L'Amour, an author I read widely in my younger days.

Synopsis: "Barnabus Pike is no gunfighter and not much of a street fighter. Eddie Holt is a black boxer in a white man's world. They've both taken their share of hard knocks. Now they're looking to survive a brutal winter in a remote Montana line shack, collect their pay, and settle down for good. Then they cross paths with a hardworking Irish immigrant and his beautiful, spirited sister, who've been burned off their land. It's a fight Pike and Holt don't want, don't need, and don't dare turn their backs on-especially when one of the perpetrators might be one of Pike's old friends. Hunted like animals across the frozen countryside, Pike and Holt will risk everything-including their reputations, their dreams-and their lives."

If you're familiar with my blog, you'll know much I enjoy reading Sudden novels. James Green—alias Sudden, the Texas outlaw— was created by British writer Oliver Strange, who wrote only 10 books. Much later, English author Frederick Nolan did a fine job of producing five more Sudden novels, including Apache Fighter (my second copy), under the pseudonym of Frederick H. Christian. The original Corgi editions are so rare in India that they're being sold at hundreds, even thousands, of rupees. I have most of the 15 books.

Synopsis: "There was a reward of five thousand dollars for the man who could bring Barbara Davis out of Apacheria alive. Every outlaw, gunman, and scalphunter in the south-west had drifted in to Tucson, then out into Apache country, lured by the dream of easy gold. The Apaches killed some of them slowly and horribly; but still they came. Governor Bleke knew unless the girl was brought out soon, he would have a full-scale Indian war on his hands. He sent for the one man who might be able to do it. A tall, slow-drawling man who wore his six-guns tied low and looked as if he knew how to use them. A Texas outlaw on the run: SUDDEN!"


  1. I love your assessment of Westerns. :) And I love that you're jump-starting your blogging and reading for 2020. Can't wait to read all your reviews!

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. There is so much more to westerns than just gunplay, outlaws, saloons, ranches, cattle and rustlers. I have a pile of western novels that I hope to read this year (something I promised myself last year and the year before). However, I hope to review books across genres in the weeks and months ahead.