Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fear's Justice by Marc Olden

Fear's Justice by Marc Olden
Villard Books, Copyright 1996

Back in the 70s I was hooked reading those numbered men's adventure/vigilante novels. One of the best (if not THE best) was a series titled "Narc" written by a guy named Robert Hawkes. It featured an America drug agent called John Bolt and I found the writing in these books heads above the others that were being pumped out at that time. I later discovered that Robert Hawkes was a pseudo for Marc Olden, who also was penning the excellent "Black Samurai" and "The Harker File" novels. In the 80s and 90s, Olden wrote high charged thrillers, some influenced by his interest in the Asian culture and martial arts. And in 1996 he delivered a knockout with "Fear's Justice," where a chastised NYC detective goes it alone against crooked cops and dirty city politics.

Detective Feargal "Fear" Meagher is a tough fat-assed mick, who doesn't care much for most minorities on the force or anywhere else in NYC. When his girl is slaughtered and the murder is pin on a Black vagrant, he smells a cover up. Meagher starts digging into it and because it's been known that he pocketed $25,000 from a drug pusher, the higher ups try to get him to lay off. Too late though, Meagher uncovers a group of SOB rogue cops that are moonlighting as contract killers. They call themselves the "Exchange Students" and their leader is Detective Schiafino, the husband of Meagher's girlfriend. Schiafino is one bad dude and wants to see Meagher suffer, violently and slowly. Schiafino is connected and has influence with the highest city officials, which puts a mighty squeeze on Meagher's investigations.

"In the outhouse of life," he said, "Schiafino's a splinter in your ass. The man didn't tell you anything you didn't already know. And forget this crap about sending you to prison. He wants to do you himself, and we both know why."

Even pinned down, Meagher is able to get through the cracks and finds an accomplice in his world of corruption. And then later we are left wondering if that was an accomplice after all. As in most Marc Olden novels there is a showdown and what I like about this one is that it is straightforward. Meagher settles it and walks away, as a reader I savored it and left well satisfied.

This one is what I call a novel that slams into you. Fast and raw, (in language and violence) it paints a bleak picture of NYC. We go down some of the filthiest streets and meet some of the most vile people that I have come across in a crime story. The dialogue is fresh noir, superior than any that I have seen in a post-pulp era novel. This is the best book that I have read in months. I'm thrilled that I picked it up.

I have to return to more of Marc Olden's novels.


David Cranmer said...

Marc Olden. New to me and duly noted.

August West said...

Yeah, I'm not one who likes to recommend books because everyone has different tastes. "Fear's Justice" is my type of action crime novel. Shocking and in your face. As for a 70s men's adventure series, for me the "Narc" books are one of the best.

Dan_Luft said...

Sounds interesting. I never read anything marketed as Men's Adventure growing up -- though when I bought Max Allan Collins's old Nolan books online the cover art was along those lines.

I just picked up one of The Butcher series by Stuart Jason.

Lee Goldberg said...

based on your review, I immediately ordered a copy. BTW,have you seen the new reference book "Serial Vigilantes of paperback fiction" by Bradley Mengels? I think you'd love it. It's a complete encyclopedia of vigilante novels -- -- listing their plots their titles their authors ( or the real authors behind the house names) and, in many cases, the back story on how the books came to be.


August West said...

Lee: Thanks for the tip. I never knew the reference book existed. I'll be hunting it down. (Thanks again, now you made my wallet even lighter)

RJR said...

Marc became a friend of mine after I interviewed him for The Armchair Detectiveafter I read PO MUST DIE. I enjoyed the Narc books and especially the Harker File books.