Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Green Wound Contract - Philip Atlee

Back into the spy realm again with Joe Gull, The Nullifier. This goes back to Gall's first contract with the CIA outside of his military and official duties. Apparently the Bay of Pigs fiasco left a bad taste, forcing Gall to turn in his cloak and dagger for a quiet solitude in the Ozarks. But, as with most spies, coming in from the cold is only ever a temporary reprieve, and Joe Gall accepts an "unofficial" contract to return to the game and take out a little bit of vengeance on a baddie known only by the name Asmodeus.

The Green Wound Contract is pretty much like the other Joe Gall capers by Philip Atlee. The plot is a schizophrenic seat-of-the-pants ride that allows our hero to observe, remark, kill, drink, smoke and screw his way through a series of events that seem to have no rhyme, reason or connection to the contract he'd accepted. The assignments are just excuses for Joe to land somewhere, stir up shit and skedaddle when it hits the fan. In this case, Joe is contracted to follow a suspect known as Raul Delgado into Laredo TX from Mexico. Delgado was formerly a doorman at the DeFarge Clinic in New Orleans. The same clinic where the sister-in-law of a senator had tucked herself away to recover from addictions to drugs and sex. Seems the lady, Hester Larkin, has a taste for the wild side of the street, in both her men and her drugs. Unfortunately she's married to a Texas fat-cat by the name of Mack Larkin. It's Mack who is brothers with the senator. And it's Mack who is being blackmailed by someone known as Asmodeus who seems to know all the intimate details of Hester Larkin's sleazy adventures...oh yeah, and Raul Delgado (remember him?) was seen helping Hester Larkin leave the Defarge Clinic...but I may have already mentioned that. Anyway, this same Raul Delgado is a suspect in the murder of a couple of Cuban nationals who had been making plans to overthrow Castro. Joe Gall's old buddy, Felix Rosas, was a witness to Raul Delgado's gunning down of the Cubans. Only just before Raul Delgado is to appear in court, Felix Rosas is blinded by a bottle of poisoned eye drops. Whew...

Okay, now that you got all that, forget about it. Why? Because Raul Delgado ends up high-stepping himself to death in the middle of a busy afternoon on the streets of Laredo when a packet of heroin he was smuggling in his intestine bursts. Exit Raul, and exit a grounded plot.

1963 Fawcett Publications

But plot doesn't matter so much in a Joe Gall novel. It's the voice, the locales, the scenes, the writing that carries these novels along. In no time flat, Joe Gall is hooking up with a babe named Barb he meets in a bar, along with her football-player-gone-to-seed boyfriend. Seems that Barb has taken an interest in Joe's laconic cigarette smoking demeanor, and agrees to meet him in his hotel room that evening for some hot sex before he takes off to New Orleans to investigate the DeFarge Clinic. This is important, because Barb will keep popping up throughout the novel, and things don't turn out well for her by the time the contract is fulfilled. And as for Barb's boyfriend? Well he runs into the nasty end of a clawed hammer in, of all places, the DeFarge Clinic. There is also a race riot, a black-jack wielding nun, an assassin blues guitarist, a bunch of "Arab-gowned goons" and a couple of screwy chicks to make things interesting along the way.

Was it good? Oh yeah!

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