Monday, January 10, 2011

4. Iceman 6 - Canadian Kill by Joseph Nazel

There was almost the whole Iceman series on display at S.W. Welch for the longest time. They are beautiful artifacts, but I always held off on buying them. Of them all, judging by the cover here, you can guess that Canadian Kill would be the one I really would want. We did a big sale of old books at the end of the year and I went a bit feverish with the $24 credit we had earned and I ended up picking this up.

The Iceman series was published by Holloway House, who are best known for being the first publishers of some classic ghetto literature, including Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines. If Canadian Kill is representative of the series (and from other blog reviews I've read, I suspect it is), then Iceman is definitely a lower order of quality, both literary and political. I honestly suspect that this book had only one draft. There are many typos, but also some weird continuity errors and the occasional wrong name used. The set-up is spectacular and fantastic, but this particular story was quite pedestrian. Basically, Iceman is a street tough made good who now owns an insanely fancy resort in Vegas and has a coterie of beautiful, ass-kicking women and a jive-talking sidekick named Christmas Tree. They live in a world of trouble and decide to take a vacation at a remote cabin in Northern Quebec.

Unfortunately, they arrive by plane at their cabin just as young Yvette is escaping on skies from the snowmobiling guards of the New Body of Man whose top secret hideout just happens to be around the corner from Iceman's new ski chalet. A trigger-happy guard shoots the plane and thus Iceman and his team of beautiful deadly-handed babes and Christmas Tree have to pit themselves against this organization, led by the megalomaniac The Manager, that was just poised to take over the world.

It's basically Shaft meets James Bond, with everything turned up to 11. I do have to appreciate how quickly the action got started. Guns come out quickly and there is a lot of it. There was a weird trope where practically every time somebody got shot, the wound and blood was described in detail for at least one and sometimes two sentences. And yet there is absolutely no sex in the book! It's all offstage, a weird coyness that I would not have expected from a Holloway House book.

Joseph Nazel himself was quite an interesting guy. He cranked out tons of books and was a major player in the African-American journalism scene in the 70's, 80's and 90's, being an editor at a bunch of magazines. I suspect he was a better writer than the Iceman series indicates, but was probably just cranking these out to make his mail. I'd like to read a real in-depth biography of the guy.

It's weird, there is very little info that I can find about the Holloway House. They don't even have an entry in Wikipedia. Very odd. These guys are a crucial part of American cultural and literary history.


Brian Busby said...

I read Canadian Kill this past summer, all the while thinking that I might be the last to do so for quite some time. Not true!

Much as I appreciated the depiction of Canada - particularly "the glorious city, Montreal, in the Quebec Province of Canada", what I really wanted was more about Iceman's Las Vegas "Oasis". Equal parts brothel, amusement park and luxury resort, it reminds one of Futureworld... but without the killer robots.

OlmanFeelyus said...

Thanks for mentioning the depiction of Canada, as brief and generic as it was. I'd forgotten to write about that. It's that period when Montreal was seen as this cool city but without any actual knowledge or detail of the reality.

I'm quite sure the other books focus on his sweet Vegas "Oasis".

Unknown said...

IIRC those 80s paperbacks by Donald Goines were Holloway House. A quick search on ebay shows that in the 60s HH was more of a sleaze publisher a la Beacon Books with titles like Honolulu Madam. Then the 70s titles seem to be African American:

Twenty Miles To Terror by Eddie Stone

"It was the end of a long, hot summer that had produced seething tension and gut-level fear. A federal district judge had ordered the county to integrate its schools. As it had in cities throughout America, that order meant that hundreds of thousands of children would have to be put on buses and transported across the city in an attempt to achieve racial balance. The emotions and passions of parents throughout the school district are enflamed as children become the innocent victims . . . pawns in the games played by effete politicians. Jimmy Ray Henderson, the school's star quarterback, believes in 'the great experiment' and volunteers to be bussed along with his younger sister. But when the child is almost killed in the charred wreckage of a fiery protest, he realizes that they have all become cogs in the madness known as busing and wide open to the cunning and dangerous promoters of a race war!"

Unknown said...

I just got the latest issue of The Paperback Fanatic magazine in the mail from the UK and lo there was a nice little piece in there on Holloway House and Joseph Nazel.

It doesn't sound like the writer was able to get a ton of the HH books but he writes a similar history as you gave. I guess the publication of Iceberg Slim's Pimp was the turning point from them being a softcore sleaze publisher to being more of a blaxploitation one.