Thursday, May 5, 2016

Track 01 - The Ninety-Nine by Jerry Ahern

The Ninety -Nine
Track 01
by Jerry Ahern
1984 by Gold Eagle Books

Ahern ruined my joke about Track's hair bouncing and behaving...

...with a scene of Daniel Track using shampoo twice and conditioner once in his hair care routine, and everyone knows Pert is shampoo and conditioner in one.  There was a very slim window of the early eighties in which men actually had a hair care routine, and Track is very much a man of that era.

Daniel Track is 36.  He grew up as an orphan among the Chicago gangs, served in the CID of the US Army, and begins the series as a weapons trainer.  He is an expert in firearms and has a fourth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Doe.

We open with an action sequence fighting Bedouins in the desert with weapon dealer Desiree Goth and her black bodyguard Zulu (groan).  He sets Goth up as a love interest for later in the series.

Another unrelated action sequence of Track rescuing hostages from IRA terrorists and we're introduced to the series premise.  Nazi terrorist and master of disguise Johannes Krieger seeks to steal a hundred defective warheads from a convoy.  A convoy which is being guarded by Track's nephew George.  A convoy which is attacked literally in Track's backyard.

Track and his nephew agree to work for the Consortium, a cartel of insurance companies that has a financial interest in the world not being blown up.  They go after Krieger, enlisting the help of Track's childhood friend and gang leader Rafe Minor.

Ahern is definitely an expert in weaponry and he gets a titch indulgent here, spending a full page here and there to describe a character's loadout.  If the Survivalist has a fetish for scabbards and sheaths, here we have way too many brand names of shotgun slings.

This has been my favorite Ahern book so far, maybe because he seems not to take it too seriously.  The usual Ahern pros and cons are here.  Excellent plotting and pacing, but not as over the top as I like my stuff and kind of meh action sequences.

I haven't read the others, but it looks like each book is him tracking down one of the other 99 warheads, which is pretty ambitious.  There were 13 Track novels.  Ahern wrote the first 10, with Patrick Andrews wrapping up the last three.

I need to read #3 next - the nuclear detonator can only be defused by beating a video game, and luckily Track has the help of a 12 year old whiz kid.

Available in used paperback from Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. TRACK was my favorite of the Ahern work, and when I interviewed him for my blog, it turned out to be his *least* favorite effort, because of constraints imposed by Gold Eagle. The original name for the series was HUNTER, but then the TV show of the same name came out so they changed it and he thought "Track" was a stupid name. His overall comment was, "We did a few books for them and when the contract was over we didn't do any more." He was also upset about how they handled THE TAKERS, which would have been a bestseller had GE printed more copies when demanded was high.

    But back to Track. He wraps up the warhead motif in book three and then it's off to other adventures. Book 4 is great for the guest appearance of Josh Culhane; after that, the series kinda peters out. I have the 10th book but have never read it.