Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Butcher

The Butcher
35 Books
Pinnacle Books 1971-1982
by Stuart Jason (house name): James Dockery 1-9,12-26; Lee Floren 10-11; Michael Avallone 27-35

The Butcher is Bucher, who only has one name like Cher or Sting, and is pronounced more like "booker", so it doesn't really work.  He was left on the doorsteps of a Knoxville church and named after a 16th century theologian.  He fell asleep in a train car at the age of ten and ended up on the streets of Chicago.  He befriended a mobster's kid and was adopted into the family after the child dies of leukemia.  He worked his way up to heading the East Coast division of the Syndicate.

Bucher has an attack of conscience and quits the Syndicate, resulting in a bounty on his head.  He was approached by the mysterious government agency White Hat and given an offer to use his skills against the Syndicate.  He agrees under the condition that he plays by the Syndicate rules, because having an attack of conscience shouldn't mean you have to stop murdering people.

The Butcher is the first (I think) cash-in on the success of the Executioner, but it has a closer feel to the James Bond knock offs that preceded it, with a bit of Matt Helm and Mike Hammer.  I've only read two so far, and they have a weird, almost beat poet vibe to them.  They also followed a very specific formula.

In the first chapter Bucher dispatches a team of two Syndicate hitmen, both with depraved back stories.  No real action, he just takes them out cowboy style.  There is then a country threatening menace that ties into the Syndicate, although the Syndicate doesn't actually make another appearance.  In both of the books I read, there is a red herring about scientists creating body doubles.

Reading the Butcher I'm reminded of some of the riffs in the MST3K version of Agent From H.A.R.M.

Mainly about how there are big budget ambitions done on a shoestring.  Things like setting and location cost money when you're making a movie, not so much for a book.  If anything, I would think it would be easier to write a giant underground base than it would getting into the minutiae of rural Alaska.  The Butcher books I've read start off with large scale menaces, but Bucher mainly ends up puttering around and failing to keep people around him from being murdered.

The Stuart Jason name was also attached to several Mandingo style plantation exploiters, presumably also written by Dockery.  I've heard the Avallone books are an improvement, so we'll see.

Much more at Spy Guys and Gals.

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