Saturday, July 26, 2014

18-Wheel Avenger - Rig Warrior 3 - William W. Johnstone

18-Wheel Avenger
Rig Warrior 3
by William W. Johnstone
Zebra 1988

Barry Rivers is a former arms dealer who now works for the President as a one man death squad.  In this installment he pretty much just drives a bulletproof 18 wheeler around and lets terrorist throw themselves at him like lemmings.  And by terrorist we mean all of them - black nationalists, Islamic, Irish, they're all in it together.

Barry is joined by Cutter, a female Air Force Special Ops officer who's there for him to have sex with off page, and George, a journalist he kidnaps.  They drive around as bait, occasionally taking detours to murder people that are identified as terrorists by a bureaucracy that he doesn't trust.

This is the fourth book of Johnstone's that I've read that has a journalist playing the straw man against Johnstone's halfbaked political philosophy.  The purpose of journalism is to be completely controlled by the government, a government which he also mistrusts.  Mainly, he hates them because they don't know how guns work.  So we get Barry threatening to murder a civilian woman if she doesn't censor the news.  But she deserves it because she's Irish.  And she let herself get raped by Barry, so who can respect someone like that.

Yeah, the sex is all a bit rapey.  As in he'd be doing prison time if the women didn't decide, eventually, that they didn't mind it.  Did I mention the racial slurs?  Most being variations of camel-fill-in-the-blank-er, though there's a bizarre mistrust of anyone with any Irish ancestry.

Seriously half of the book is Barry whining to George about politics.  About how we're finally starting to come out of the liberal hell that was the Reagan era.  Barry is a former arms dealer who is moving arms in his truck for foreign sale - remember, this was a time that we were helping arm Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.  That worked out well for the war on terrorism.

All this would be okay if any of the fifty action sequences were any good at all.  They're not.  A car or truck swoops up, Barry points an Uzi out the window, and everyone is dead.  No sense of danger and very little sense of what's going on.  He stays in the safety of his his invincible truck except for when he pulls over for the sole purpose of letting Cutter get shot up.  I would say this was a case of Women in Refrigerators, but Barry wasn't bothered by it, and Cutter disappears from the story aside from some third parties reporting that she was alright.

The wafer thin plot isn't helped by Johnstone writing like the guy in Memento.  He wakes not knowing who he is and just starts typing based on the last paragraph he wrote the day before.  We start out with Barry deputizing a group of truckers, later warning them that all their families are now going to die, then forgetting about them.  The middle is just a series of dull ambushes and Barry berating a reporter, and the final showdown with villains we've never met takes just over a page.

Jerry Ahern is known to jump on a soapbox now and again, and I don't see myself sharing a lot of bumper stickers with him, but he can write coherently and isn't a bigot.  Joseph Rosenberger was a bigot, but his politics usually ended with "F- Communism".  Neither are necessarily my favorite, but I don't loath them the way I do Johnstone.

As bad as this was, it at least shorter than Ashes, and I think his race baiting fear mongering got worse in later books, but to be fair that might have been after he died.

And the truck didn't shoot any damn missiles.  Watch Thunder Run instead.

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