Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kill Quick or Die by Stuart Jason

Kill Quick or Die by Stuart Jason
(The Butcher #1)
Pinnacle Books 5th ed.
Copyright 1971

"Like I said before," Bucher told him. "With Syndicate scum it's either kill quick or die."

Thirty seven year old "Butcher" Bucher has moved up quick in the Syndicate. With his sharp wits, fast reflexes, and concrete willpower-Bucher was in charge of the whole East Coast Division. But now he is out and quitting doesn't sit too well with the Big Boys. The Syndicate puts an one hundred thousand dollar "death tag" on his head, but Bucher can handle anything they throw at him. Enter the U.S. Government who sees value in a man who possesses Bucher's intimate knowledge of Organized Crime. They offer him a job working as an agent for a covert group called "White Hat." Bucher accepts, he wants to atone for some of the things he did in his grisly past. But he has one condition, he gets to play it by his own rules. And his rules are: There are no rules, just violence and extreme street vengeance for anyone who gets in his way.

Kill Quick or Die is the first paperback in the Butcher series. And for me, these male testosterone adventure series are "hit or miss." I call this one a "hit." Keep in mind you can't take them too seriously and they have as much believability as those conspiracy wackos who still claim that the Apollo moon landings were staged. The story starts in Atlanta where Bucher is hunting down a Chinese scientist who is attempting to sell his secret plans for a deadly weapon. But this is just a minor event in the plot because what it really is about is having Bucher ruthlessly (no mercy is spared) eliminate members of the Mafia that cross his path. From Atlanta to Cairo the trail always ends with Bucher killing Syndicate hoods and hitmen. None are a match for "The Butcher." He stumbles upon a lucrative business the Mafia has that involves smuggling Arabs into the USA. With the price tag on his head and him nosing around in the Mideast, the Boys go all out to savagely annihilate Bucher. Leaving more dead behind, Bucher is off to Israel and back to Cairo after witnessing the horrifying results of the torture and crucifixion of his beautiful Arab girlfriend Tzsenya. The blood is really boiling now, as he flies back to Atlanta to seek and brutally destroy the head of this Mafioso operation.

Again Bucher stepped back to view his handiwork. This time he was more satisfied. The big Arab's face was warped out of shape by the broken jaw, his left ear was missing, his nose was a pulpy mess of split cartilage and chopped bone. Shreds of mangled flesh, recently his brows, hung down over his eyes and blood streamed from his face wherever the brass knucks had connected. Bucher decided only one thing more was needed. He stepped forward, crashed the knucks of his right fist into the blinded Ahmed's mouth. Teeth and splinters of teeth erupted from the mouth when Bucher jerked free his fist.

Like I said, you don't read these for a credible portrayal of an undercover agent or a man wanting to free himself of his past involvement with organized crime. This is about entertainment and fun. And Kill Quick or Die does deliver on those. The writing style is elementary and it's basically a step-by-step plot here. But the author made Bucher an irrefutable character and I was eagerly looking forward to what happens next in the story. Overall not bad for a paperback found in this for-men-only vengeance genre. As for the series, this is the only one that I've read and I have no idea what Butcher paperbacks are the best. But I might read another.

Oh, two things. Bucher has this silly inner "spider sense" that warns him when trouble is afoot. (Something that I wouldn't mind having) He also doesn't seem to have a first name. "The Butcher" is his Mafia handle, but his surname is used most throughout the novel-Bucher. (Like Cher, ahh but not really like her...)


James Reasoner said...

This is a great series, bookended by the early volumes by James Dockery and the last six by Mike Avallone. Two distinctive voices, definitely. I don't know how many Dockery wrote or who else contributed to the series in the middle of its run. Lee Floren supposedly wrote at least one. But I've enjoyed all the Butchers I've read and need to get back to the series. (If you haven't picked up the Ennis Willie collection from Ramble House, there's some info in there about how the Butcher series came about.)

August West said...

James: Thanks a million. It's always great to get more info. on any novels from any Men's numbered adventure series. It seems so many authors had their hands in them.

Have a Great Labor Day.