|Pinnacle Books, July 1980, cover illustration by Fred Love|
Actually, the novel is okay, being pretty much what the cover delivers, assuming that bikini-clad babe with the come-hither look is Mona Mars, the "walking, living piece of ass" herself. And the slimy looking dude there smoking a coffin-nail is chief baddie Malcolm Liddy, who is the brains behind a drug company promising sexual potency renewal to all the silver-cropped future Rush Limbaugh fans out there in middle-America. And yes, Mona Mars is their spokesperson...hell yeah! The thing is, Butcher's outfit, White Hat, isn't buying it, especially after a whistle-blower from the FDA rings their alarm. Butcher's job is to meet Dr. Norma Keating from the FDA and see exactly what it is that has her alarmed about Hanover Health, Incorporated.
Butcher is supposed to meet Dr. Keating at an art-film screening at the MOMA. He's told he'll recognize Dr. Keating because she'll be carrying a hardback copy of the novel Jaws. Of course things don't turn out to be so easy, as Dr. Keating never arrives. Butcher leaves the museum only to find Dr. Keating crawling from an alleyway, the victim of multiple stab wounds. In a vain attempt to save Keating's life, The Butcher comes face-to-face with a shiv-wielding freak described as having an "eagle nose." It's a fight to the death, with The Butcher kicking Eagle Nose's ass, until he's cracked over the head with a loaded lead pipe from behind.
Butcher wakes up in a basement room, where he meets Eagle Nose again, along with Wo Ling (the cat with the lead pipe) and Mona Mars. Mona Mars decides that the Butcher must 'fess up to why he was planning on meeting Dr. Keating, and spill about who he works for. What follows is about 30 pages of Mona and the boys stripping the Butcher and torturing him in an electric cage. But before they commence with the torture, Mona Mars has to make repeated comments about how well-hung The Butcher is, and what a shame it is to waste a prime piece of beef on torture and death. But have no fear, my friends, because it turns out that The Butcher has in his arsenal of secret weapons exploding chewing gum. That's right! All he has to do is convince his tormentors to give him a piece of gum so that he's able to spill his guts without a dry throat. Of course, they provide The Butcher with his gum, and boy are they sorry...all except for Mona Mars, that is.
After killing Eagle Nose and Wo Ling, the Butcher takes Mona Mars back to his hotel, where he threatens to kill her, after an all-nighter of mind-blowing sex. Trouble is, The Butcher, for those fans who've read these novels know, is a marked man with a million dollar price tag on his head courtesy of the mob. There is a whole backstory to catch those readers up who've never met The Butcher before, about how he climbed to the top ladders in the Mafia before chucking it all and walking away. The thing is, no one walks away from the Mafia and lives. But never mind all that...the Butcher and Mona Mars are banging the hell out of each other while trying to figure out the best way to make the other give up the goods, while old enemies from the mob circle off-stage.
Meanwhile, The Butcher's outfit White Hat is poring over the notes that were retrieved from Dr. Keating's files and notebooks, including papers found in the novel Jaws that she was carrying at the time of her murder. And hell yes! there's way more to Hanover Health Inc's pep pills than sexual potency.
I had fun reading this novel. I'm a fan of Michael Avallone's Ed Noon novels, the few that I've read that is, and am pretty certain I've read some of his Nick Carter books as well. I've got a couple more Butcher novels in my stacks of paperbacks to yet read, but I'll probably give them some time before diving in. One can only handle so much testosterone in their literary diet.
On to something by Henry James next...or maybe not!