Friday, August 26, 2011

50. Operation Stranglehold by Dan J. Marlowe

My reading and posting has slown down somewhat and probably will continue to be slow until early October as I am overseeing a fairly large renovation project at work (large for my normal job, anyhow) and it is taking up a lot of my time.  I'm going for the short, punchy books that don't demand a lot of my memory or commitment but deliver the cathartic savagery a working man needs in this world of law where you aren't allowed to break someone's fingers for sticking gum on to to front railing.

Operation Stranglehold is apparently the first Dan J. Marlowe book I've read, at least since I started the 50 books project.  While I was reading it, I had him mixed up in my head with Donald Hamilton.  That is cleared up now and it sounds like Marlowe had an interesting life history.  Operation Stranglehold is part of the ongoing series of Drake books ("The man with nobody's face").  If this one is representative of the series, it is pretty standard mass paperback espionage fare of the period.   I suspect he has better books in him.  In this one, he has to rescue the son of a powerful politician from a spanish jail before the arrest can be used to make the politician look bad.  Also, Drake's mentor or sometime partner had been sent out to do the job and got caught himself.  So Drake and his super-hot girlfriend (who is also rich) go out to Spain and get involved in a decent little adventure.

It's not a great book and a bit of an inauspicious choice for my 50th, but it was competent enough and had some good little details about trying to get through the authorities in rural spain, some nice stuff on a train. It just had no real bite or thrill.  There is one really weird thing and that is the conceit of the book, that Drake has had extensive plastic surgery and thus looks really weird and anonymous.  He has no hair on his head at all, wears wigs and has to wear make-up in the sun!  How the hell does he get a super-hot babe girlfriend?  Doesn't everybody think he looks like a disturbing weirdo?

Note, this cover is not my own.  I've got the same one, but there are no scribbles on it.  I picked it up in my Nova Scotia trip.  I'll scan mine when I can find it again (told you I was busy!)


Nick Jones (Louis XIV, the Sun King) said...

You should give the first one in this series a go, Olman: The Name of the Game is Death, aka Operation Overkill. I just read it and it's blistering: like Parker ramped up to eleven. It's not a spy novel – the spy thing developed later in the series. It's an out-and-out Jim Thompson-style crime masterpiece.

Nick Jones (Louis XIV, the Sun King) said...

Belated happy Thanksgiving, by the way! Er, if you celebrate that up your way, that is. (We don't over here.)

OlmanFeelyus said...

Great to know! I've been super busy and thus only skimming your recent posts, but I mean to go back and read them when I have some quiet time. Looks like you have some great info on Donald Hamilton there as well. In the meantime, I'll definitely keep an eye out for Operation: Overkill.