Havoc!

Author: James Dark
Publisher: Horwitz
Published: 1962

Recently I have looked at a few Mark Hood spy thrillers, written by James Dark – namely Come Die With Me and the Throne of Satan. Prior to them however, I looked at The Invisibles, which is also a Mark Hood spy thriller, but as it was an Australian edition, the author was credited as J.E. MacDonnell. As an Australian, it fascinated me that their was international spy fiction being written in Australia during the 1960s. I was curious to find out more, which I must admit I found difficult. J.E. MacDonnell also wrote a large amount of popular naval fiction, and these books were easy to find, however it would appear that his spy fiction was as not as well received and is very hard to find.

Thankfully, when I posted my review of The Invisibles, readers commented on the Hood books and mentioned that they had been published in America under the pen name James Dark. And after a bit of searching on the net, I have located a few American editions of the Hood novels. From these, I wrote the reviews I mentioned above (Come Die With Me and Throne of Satan).

What I found confusing is that when I was researching Hood by J.E. MacDonnell – while there were a few discrepancies across the websites I visited, mainly due to foreign titles – was how many books were in the series. One of the most informative websites on J.E. MacDonnell, Collecting Books and Magazines (it’s towards the bottom of the page) – suggests that there are 13 novels in the series.

However, the website, Fantastic Fiction, which looks at author James Dark rather than J.E. MacDonnell, suggests that there are 17 novels in the Mark Hood series.

Once again, some of the titles listed were duplications of the same novel, only published under different titles – but still, there were a few that were new to me, and didn’t appear in any of J.E. MacDonnell’s biographies. That made me think, was there more than one James Dark?

As it happens, James Dark was a house name for several authors at Australian publisher, Horwitz Publications. It also seems that the ‘Dark’ name was applied to novels of all genres. One of the most informative articles I have been able to find, and it shed much light on the mystery of James Dark was written by Steve Paulsen, and appears on the Australian Horror Writer’s Association website. Entitled, Pulp Fiction in Oz, Paulsen’s article is worth reading in it’s entirety, but for those who want to cut to the chase, the information about James Dark is down thirteen paragraphs from the top.

ImPact - the first Elliot Carr adventure

Taking Steve Paulsen at his word (as he seems much better informed than me) – then the James Dark credited for writing Havoc!, is James Workman. And Havoc! is World trouble-shooter, Elliot Carr’s second great story of espionage… inside on the second page, it says that also by the same author is a book called Impact, and once again it would appear to have been written by Workman.

While on the topic of James Dark – although I do not have a copy of the book – the next bit of wild speculation on my behalf is that the novel Spy From the Grave which was published in 1964 (according to the Fantastic Fiction site), is not a Mark hood novel. Come Die With Me, which was published in 1965, is clearly the first Mark Hood novel. The setup, the introduction to Intertrust (the organisation Hood works for) all suggest it is the first novel in the series. Therefore, (assuming that the publication date isn’t wrong) then Spy From the Grave predates the Mark Hood series, and may possibly be an Elliot Carr novel. Or more likely, it could simply be another standalone spy novel, which seems logical as Paulsen suggests, that this sixth, James Dark novel, was written by another author, Richard Wilkes-Hunter. If you have read Spy From the Grave or have any information about it, or James Dark, please feel free to comment (or contact me off air, via email if you wish).

But now, after all that meandering investigative journalism, you’re probably wondering how Havoc! stacks up as a spy novel. As I mentioned briefly, Havoc! is the sequel to the novel Impact, and for those who like their silly spy acronyms, how’s this?  The hero of these stories, Elliot Carr is a chief operative for the International and Metropolitan Police Air Control – or if you prefer IMPACt (Impact being the title of the first novel). How Carr and IMPACt, an organisation geared to protecting airlines around the world, get involved in this multi-threaded espionage plot, is contrived beyond belief, but it is a fun, fast paced ride.

As the story begins, the world’s first moon rocket is preparing to be launched from the Kooralinga Rocket Range in Australia (remember this was written in 1962 – predating the Apollo moon launches). Upon launch, the rocket goes haywire and crashes to the ground. As an adjunct here, while Kooralinga appears to be a fictitious place name (or at least used fictitiously in this instance), it echoes Maralinga, which is the site of the UK nuclear tests carried out in South Australia in the 1950s. Was the author suggesting that the rocket was nuclear powered?

Meanwhile Barnstable Klinger, a specialist assassin, hired by the Chinese is sent to Hong Kong to investigate eccentric scientist Cyrus C. Canning who has been doing microwave research. Klinger is to steal Canning’s research; failing that he is to kill everybody involved in the project. Before Klinger can achieve his objective, Canning flees to Sydney (but nobody knows this). Upset at his disappearance, Canning’s wife and step sister track him to the airport. Once they find out where he has gone, Klinger steps in and kills Canning’s step sister, Martha– she also has knowledge of Canning’s research.

Terrifying Tales - by James Dark (James Workman?)

As she was killed at an airport, this is where IMPACt are called in, and Elliot Carr decides to oversee the investigation personally. Somehow, Carr suspects that not only is Martha’s death connected with Canning’s research, he also believes it ties in with the sabotage of the moon rocket in Australia. But rather than start in Hong Kong (or head to Australia – which he does later), Carr starts in England, interviewing Sir John Calidcroft, who is one of the world’s leading scientists. Carr hopes he can shed some light on Canning’s research.

If the story was that straight forward, it wouldn’t be much of a spy novel would it? To make things more complicated, there is also a person going by the noms de guerre, The Man From Mannheim, who has sent letters to three of the four nuclear powers suggesting that if they don’t start dismantling their nuclear stockpiles, he will do it for them using explosive means. As proof of his intentions and capabilities, ‘Mannheim’ explodes some small nuclear stockpiles in each country as an example.

I must say, that I was surprised that such a strong anti-nuclear story was written in the early 1960s. I have always thought that nuclear disarmament and ‘ban the bomb’ protesting was a part of the late ’60s –  and much of that was predominantly to do with the Vietnam War. Clearly that is not the case. This novel is purely a Cold War novel, and predates Vietnam. Havoc! was published in 1962, the same year as the Cuban Missile Crisis, which is generally regarded as the closest the world has come to nuclear conflict. Whether that had an influence on this story is anybody’s guess. Or maybe the author’s anti-nuclear stance is a reaction to the British nuclear tests at Maralinga, which occurred between 1955 and 1963?

Regardless of the author’s viewpoint, what is unusual, is seeing this stance written about in a piece of early-sixties Australian genre fiction, especially considering Australia’s political climate at the time. The incumbent Prime Minister was Sir Robert Menzies who had continued to remain in power after winning an un-winnable election in the wake of the Petrov Affair in 1954. At the time of Havoc!, Menzies was able to exploit Labor’s divisions over the Cold War and the American alliance, and win the 1963 election, with an increased majority. Put simply, most of the Australian populace at that time, were behind the Government, were anti-communist and in favour of a nuclear deterrent (that is not to suggest that wanting Nuclear disarmament makes you a communist!). Of course this is a broad generalisation, but this book would appear to go against the grain of mainstream thinking in Australia – at that time.

But back to the story. Elliot Carr does not only have to contend with American, British, Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies trying to track down Canning, but also thrown in the mix, is a mysterious organisation called ‘Circle of Three’, who appear to be manipulating events in the background. Then there’s a Russian splinter group, known as the ‘Clinic’, run be the evil Miss Cotter – a nurse who specialises in torture.

Havoc! at only 130 pages, may seem like a slight book – and I guess it is – but it does in fact pack quite a bit of plot, a few twists and turns and multiple storythreads into its page count. As I have already sugested, this is the second, Elliot Carr adventure, and on the strength of it, I would happily read the first. However, possibly more tantalising, is the fact, that at the end of the book it is set up for another Carr adventure. I cannot be sure that any more Carr books were written, but as the history of Australian pulp fiction is currently so poorly recorded, there is no reason to assume that there weren’t any.

Australia pulp fiction is a bit of an enigma at the moment, and finding out the truth is getting more difficult with each successive generation. Horwitz doesn’t really exist anymore. During the 1980s it started to focus more on magazines than publishing books (primarily magazines like Playboy). Eventually the company got gobbled up by larger media groups, and now Horwitz and all its imprints (such as its Adult imprint, Scripts, which published Avakoum Zahov vs 07) are quickly fading from memory. I know we can’t all live in the past, but I suggest that ignoring Australia’s publishing heritage strips away a layer of our identity. Sure many of these books were sexist, racist, and in this day and age, verging on litigious, but they are a reflection of our society, good, bad or indifferent in days gone by. They are a signpost of who we were then, and juxtaposed against current fiction, can suggest where we are going.

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Havoc!

Come Die With Me

Signet US paperback edition 1965

Author: James Dark – J.E. MacDonnell
Publisher: Signet / Horwitz
Published: July 1965

Come Die With Me is the first in the Mark Hood series of international spy thrillers by Australian author J.E. MacDonnell (published in the US under the name James Dark).

Being the first in the series, unlike other entries, this one fleshes out a bit about Intertrust, the organisation that Mark Hood works for. Intertrust was created by the four nuclear powers (remembering this was written in the mid 1960s) to stop other nuclear threats from arising. The idea that cold war America and the USSR are working together through Intertrust is an interesting one – although in the books that I have read, this facet of the organisation is never really explored. In fact, Hood could just work for England or the United States.

Another aspect that is also fleshed out more, is Hood’s background. He is an American, but went to study in England, where he became an excellent (world famous) cricketer. After that he became a ‘world famous’ racing car driver. An then a ‘world famous’… well you get the idea. Now Hood is a man of leisure… a playboy… a dilettante. He travels the world looking for excitement and adventure. Well that’s his cover anyway. As we know he is now an Intertrust agent, but his reputation as a jet-setting playboy allows him to travel all over the world with barely an eyebrow raised.

The story concerns a neo-Nazi named Gauss who has stolen three nuclear armed torpedo boats, the last one being taken in Nassau in the Bahamas. Hood is immediately shipped off to investigate, and soon on the trail of the neo-Nazis. The twist in the story comes early, when Hood is captured, and is offered a position in Gauss’ employ (with a substantial paycheck to go with it). Hood has little choice, beyond work for Gauss or die, so he accepts the bribe and the job. However he is not completely trusted, and although now working from the inside, he finds himself helpless to stop Gauss from moving towards the next phase of his operation.

Hood is taken to Gauss’ fortress like retreat in Brazil, which is built on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. While Hood is not exactly a prisoner, he is a closely watched guest, with no access to the outside world. And Gauss is suspicious enough to keep most of his plans under wraps. He is not a garrulous uber-villain who has to describe his mad scheme to the hero in loving detail. Well not at the start anyway!

Gauss’ ultimate plot is kept under wraps until the last minute, but Hood gets an inkling of his intent when he meets Maria in the fortress. She is a bacteriologist who has found a way to improve crop yields, by introducing bacteria to certain crops. Her research could put an end to starvation in third world countries. Of course, Hood also realises that the research, if utilised by someone who wished to destroy rather than create could be perverted for evil ends.

The Mark Hood thrillers are fast paced, but at times I think too fast. There are certain passages in this book that are written so quickly, with lack of description that I could barely follow the action. There is one passage in particular, where Hood, in a car, is being chased down a winding and twisting mountain road, by one of Gauss’ minions.

From page 50:

The big Mercedes was bellowing upon him. He jabbed his right foot down, feeling the Jaguar surge, and he wondered with detachment through his apprehension how Hermann would finish him, against the cliff on the left or over the edge on the right, and he heard a high wild scream of brakes and there were the twin white swords sailing out into nothing, then dipping abruptly, and then vanishing below the edge.

Clearly the villain has driven off the edge, but the above sentence is the only description of the incident. Another sentence confirming that Hermann is dead, and the car has crashed – maybe into the sea – would have fleshed out the action scene quite substantially. Instead, the story rattles on to the next incident.

Horwitz Australian paperback edition 1987

The Mark Hood books are pretty much throwaways, meaning that they are short and very little time is spent on characterisation and plot development. If the narrative begins to flounder, MacDonnell’s story telling device is to simply have the hero whacked over the head by the bad guys and wake up in the villain’s lair. It cuts out all that boring investigation stuff that other spies have to do. Yep, Hood is so good that he just has to turn up in a location and the enemy agents over-react, knock him out, bring him back to their lair, and finally in long, slow, loving detail they reveal their evil plot. It certainly saves time, and keeps the books page count down, well under 150 pages.

But having said all that, the book is not masquerading as a piece of high art either. It is what it is – a slick little spy adventure with girls, guns and goons. It’s a piece of vintage pulp fiction, and if that appeals to you (it does me) then Come Die With Me is a perfectly acceptable way to wile away a few hours.

Come Die With Me

Throne of Satan

Author: James Dark – J.E. MacDonnell
Publisher:
Signet/Horwitz
Published:
May 1967
Pictured: U.S. Signet Paperback Edition

Throne of Satan is another book from the  Mark Hood Thriller series, written by Australian author J.E. MacDonnell (published in the US under the pen name James Dark) and it is a pretty slight read. Not that the Mark Hood books were ever jam packed with densely intricate plots, but this story is wafer thin. However what makes this book an interesting time capsule for spy fans, and particularly those who enjoy the movie, You Only Live Twice, is that it features a villain housed in a volcanic lair. I know the ‘volcanic lair’ is a hoary old chestnut, used time and time again – only yesterday I looked at Simon Black in Peril, which had a unit of Nazis holed up in a hollowed out volcano situated in the Pacific. So the hollowed out volcano lair is not new, however, once You Only Live Twice hit the cinemas, the volcano lair became a symbol of megalomania, parodied mercilessly in books and films ever since.

From page 41 – where Mark Hood’s colleague and fellow Intertrust agent, Tommy Tremayne, who has been captured, is about to be brought before the megalomaniac, Dominat.

As the plane banked away from the top of the mountain and beamed in again in a wide circle, the Englishman looked down into the dead crater beneath them. A wide steel platform ran across its diameter. The plane was dropping. It passed right over the top of the mountain, then turned again, bearing down on the ribbon of glittering gray metal. They were about to land right there on the mountain, Tremayne realized.

Now that they were practically level with the runway, it looked much longer. The plane was small and maneuverable.

There was a squeal as the wheels gripped the rough steel. Then the aircraft was turning. They stopped and the silence, after the steady hum of the motors, was almost tangible.

“The end of the ride?” Tremayne asked.

“We will wait here,” Borja said. He was not smiling now.

They wait. Then, beneath them, was a distant hum of machinery, and without being aware of any movement, Tremayne saw the inner walls of the crater seemed to be closing in over them. Then he realized that they were being carried down, plane ands all, on top of the platform into the bowels of the mountain.

The interesting co-incidence here, is that Throne of Satan was published in May 1967, yet You Only Live Twice was not released in Australia until December 1967. That is not to suggest any plagiarism – as I mentioned at the top, the ‘volcano lair’ has been used quite a bit in spy fiction.

The story concerns an evil megalomaniac named Dominat who intends to invade Cuba, and then leapfrog over it to invade America. From his vast scientific laboratory, housed in a volcano on the island of Dominica, he has been invented a range of highly sophisticated weapons with which he intends to take over the world.

As the story opens, Dominat’s number one henchman, Borja has kidnapped a nuclear scientist named Battersby and stolen a nuclear reactor core. However the ship he is transporting them on is run aground in a gale and is sinking. Following them however is Intertrust agent Mark Hood, who spirits away the reactor core to a waiting US Navy Destroyer. He tries to return to rescue Battersby but is too late, and some of Borja’s goons arrive in a helicopter and rescue him – taking Battersby with them.

The twist, and it is not a major spoiler as it is written on the back cover, is that Battersby is actually another Intertrust agent, Tommy Tremayne. While Tremayne is taken back to Dominat’s volcano lair, Hood spends the rest of the novel tracking him down – with the bulk of his clues being a type of happy co-incidence (rather than clever investigation).

The book itself is a strange double hander with agent Tommy Tremayne, who has been captured, working from the inside, while Hood works from the outside. And while a two pronged spy story still works, providing all the high points you would expect in a pulp adventure like this, it also has the problem of rendering the primary hero, Hood, slightly impotent. It is Tremayne who shares the interaction with the villain, Dominat, and is explained the mad scheme for world domination. Hood only arrives at the end, like the cavalry to rescue Tremayne, and his showdown with Dominat, because the characters do not have a relationship, is rather cold and perfunctory. Sure, Dominat is a villain and over the course of the story his villainy is played out enough, that his demise does bring a certain catharsis, but at the same time, possibly the story would have been more satisfying if Tremayne had landed the final blow rather than in the contrived manner that it takes place. But then I guess it would have been a Tommy Tremayne novel and not a ‘Mark Hood Thriller’.

The Mark Hood books are not great literature. They are what they are, which is fast paced, and incredibly slight spy adventures. You can read them in a day. If you read them with that in mind, simply wanting to be blasted away for an hour or two, then they are perfectly acceptable. However, Throne of Satan, due to what I perceive to be a slightly more experimental writing style (the dual story thread), is one of the weaker Hood thrillers, and if it wasn’t for the nicely contrived, and timely, volcano lair plot device, would be little more than a passing footnote in the history of spy fiction.

'Black Napoleon' - Australian edition?

Throne of Satan may be the 7th book in the Mark Hood Thriller series – originally published as Black Napoleon in Australia. I have not found a copy of Black Napoleon to check the information on that, and as the story Throne of Satan doesn’t specifically mention that the villain, Dominat is a man of colour (that is assuming that he is the ‘Black Napoleon’ of the title in the Australian version). Of course, any overt racism could have been edited from the US version. And I must admit, that the cover of Black Napoleon, with the volcano in the background, would suggest they are one and the same story.

Throne of Satan

The Invisibles Part 3

Just a little bit more on secret agent Mark Hood – I must admit I am quite fascinated by the character now, and will endeavor to get hold of a few more of his adventures. My obsession is fueled by another book cover image courtesy of Mattel Jones – the first edition of The Invisibles. In this version, the artist has portrayed our hero in a natty turtle neck, looking like a cross between Robert Wagner and Eurospy favourite Ken Clark.

So the great game begins – a quest to track down the adventures of Mark Hood, and to begin with I have compiled a list of titles from the series. Please feel free to contact me with additions (or if I have incorrectly attributed a J.E. MacDonnell title to the series, when it is in fact not a Hood novel).

MARK HOOD INTERNATIONAL ESPIONAGE SERIES:
No 1: Come Die With Me 1965
No 2: The Bamboo Bomb 1965
No 3: Assignment HongKong 1966
(Alternate Title: Hong Kong Incident)
No 4: Operation Missat 1966
(Alternate Title: Operation Tokyo)
No 5: Spy from the Deep 1966
No 6: Caribbean Striker 1967
No 7: Black Napoleon 1967
No 8: The Sword of Genghis Khan 1967
No 9: Spying Blind 1968
No 10: Operation Octopus 1968
No 11: Operation Ice Cap 1970
No 13: The Invisibles 1970
No 13: The Reluctant Assassin 1970

Now there are four more titles that I have found that are Mark Hood novels but I don’t know where they come in the chronology – they maybe even alternate titles to the books listed above.

Throne of Satan
Mediterranean Striker
Sea Scrape
Operation Scuba

Here are a few links for those who want to know more:

• For an overview of J.E MacDonnell’s career click here
• Bill Crider looks at Sword of Genghis Khan
• Pop Sensation looks at Operation Octopus
• James Reasoner looks at The Bamboo Bomb
• Click here for a more complete listing (and alternate titles) of the Mark Hood series.

The Invisibles Part 3

The Invisibles Part 2

One of the reasons I love blogging is that I learn so much as I go along. You may think that I know it all, because I have chosen to put together a blog about spy films – and review the odd book or two. But that is far from true. I am constantly amazed by the nuggets of information that come my way. The other day, I looked at an Australian author called J.E. MacDonnell and one of his books called The Invisibles. In response, a reader called Mattel Jones linked to the American cover for the US edition of the book – it’s so much better than the one I have. But what amazed me – and probably why I found so little information on the Mark Hood series – is the MacDonnell went under the name James Dark in the US.

Thanks M.J. – I appreciate the information.

The Invisibles Part 2

The Invisibles

Written by J.E. MacDonnell
Published by Horwitz Publications 1970

From the Blurb:
It was a hell of a way to die!

“You are a tough man, Mr. Hood,” Bula said.
“Thank you,” said Hood. “Now what do you do?”
It seemed that Bula meant to do nothing. He remained where he was, while his eyes held Hood’s with the basilisk steadiness of a snake’s. And then Hood felt the oddest sensation in his life – as if his will were being sucked out of his brain. A trance like cocoon seemed to be enveloping him; invisible, intangible, yet as palpable as a python’s coils around his arms and legs.
His medical training warned him that it was some form of hypnosis and although he strove to avert his eyes, he found he could not. He stood there helplessly as if his hard-trained body had turned to putty, and watched Bula coming for him.
His great shoulder heaved and an iron fist exploded against Hood’s stomach. Hood reeled back as if he had been clubbed. “I am annoyed with you, Mr. Hood.”
The second blow landed over Hood’s heart. He gasped in an attempt to get some air down into his system.
“And because I am annoyed … I will punch you to death … instead of using the knife …”

I know what you are thinking – ‘Here we go again!’ After my outrageous claim that T.H.R.U.S.H, the evil organisation from The Man From U.N.C.L.E television series was Australian, I had to go out and find a true Aussie spy series. Well I found one. It’s not actually Australian, but written by an Australian, J.E. MacDonnell – not to be confused with John D. MacDonald, author of the Travis McGee books – or Ross Macdonald, who briefly went by the name John Ross Macdonald before changing it to plain old Ross Macdonald, in order to avoid confusion with John D. MacDonald. Er, Ross Macdonald is the author of the Lew Archer novels, but I have veered off track once again.

J.E. MacDonnell was a prolific Australian author who specialised in naval adventure stories, but he also turned his hand to churning out a series of loose and fast paced espionage novels featuring a secret agent named Mark Hood – not to be confused with secret agent Charles Hood, who appeared in a series of spy adventures written by James Mayo (Hammerhead was made into a film starring Vince Edwards). I may be wrong here, but I believe that The Invisibles is the thirteenth book in the Mark Hood series.

As the story opens, Intertrust Agent, Mark Hood is posing as a wealthy playboy, when in fact he is on a highly secret and dangerous mission. It starts in February on an un-named island in the Caribbean. Hood is driving his rented Buick convertible along a coast road from his villa near the city of Mahame to the town of Ruijas. As he rounds a corner, in the headlamps, he sees a body lying on the road. Hood stops to investigate and gets out of the car. As he approaches, the body springs to life and produces a rifle, which had been tucked away under the body. The aggressor points the rifle at Hood and pulls the trigger. As the gunman made the shot, Hood had already leapt forward and the bullet misses to the left hand side. Hood delivers a karate chop to the aggressor’s neck – killing him. Next, Hood tosses the body over a cliff. As he gets back into his car, in the distance he can hear the low murmur of a voodoo drum.

Next Hood meets the resident Carribean Intertrust man, Jimmy Sangster (no not the Hammer screenwriter). This guy is in his sixties with a limp. Hood explains why he’s on the island – it is believed that someone on the island is attempting to build an atomic bomb. The prime suspect is a revolutionary leader named Shango, who also happens to be a Houngan or Voodoo Preist. He operates out of a fortress, on top of one of the highest mountains on the island. (Can you guess where the climax takes place?)

As Hood drives back to his villa, as if summoned by some demonic force, a mini tornado chases him along the road. It picks up his car and tosses it, as if it were a toy, into the sea. Trapped in the car, Hood rides it down until it hits a rocky undersea shelf. Then he unfastens his seatbelt, and thanks to his scuba diving experience, he surfaces, just as currents push the car off the shelf and down in the darkened depths of the sea.

That’s the thing about Hood, and the incidents that happen throughout this novel – whatever the situation, Hood can handle it, because he has had prior experience. I am sure that the guy has done everything, from piloting helicopters and gunships to advanced medicine and surgery. Hood can do it all. And he can do it better than another popular literary spy. And the book goes to lengths to point this out. They can be summed up in one small passage. Hood’s boss, Fortescue says:

“This job is too important to have you boys pussyfooting around playing 007’s”.

But Bond references aren’t enough for a story like this. Dear reader, I know what you really want – and that’s a fat slice of Voodoo action, and this book delivers a few of them. Here’s one from pg. 73.

‘But now all attention, and Hood’s was concentrated on a slender girl who had stopped her circling to face the post. Her head craned far back, her legs were together, and her arms outstretched. She was naked. In Hood’s tautened mind her brown sweat gleaming body formed the shape of an obscene cross.
The drum beat swelled even fiercer and the girl began to dance.
Hood had never seen anything like it. Although her feet barely moved, the gyrations of her hips and shoulders made her seem as if she were leaping in a frenzy. they shivered and twisted, then undulated with a serpentine sinuosity, and then rolled and coiled and thrust themselves forward and back in abandoned sexuality.’

Ah, that’s enough of that you pagans! The Invisibles is action packed from the word go, and at only 126 pages long, it is never intended to be anything more that a quick and slight slice of throwaway entertainment – much like the Nick Carter ‘Killmaster’ novels. But one of the sad things about these ‘throwaway’ novels, is exactly that – they are being thrown away. In a world where I can walk into practically any bookshop in the English speaking world and find exactly the same books on the shelf, it’s a terrible shame that the books of the past are treated as a disposable commodity. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first in line for the next Clive Cussler, Matthew Reilly or Jeremy Duns novel, but at the same time, I wonder if my son will ever know who Alistair MacLean is?

From the back cover:

They were as ancient as Evil itself – but armed with the nuclear power of tomorrow.
Intertrust Agent Mark Hood faces the shadowy terrors of the supernatural when he is sent to the interior of a remote Caribbean island to break up a black market in atom bombs.

The sellers? No one knows. The buyers? THE INVISIBLES – Voodoo priests with a fiendish plan to make a human sacrifice of the entire world. Hood’s only ally – a beautiful, sultry believer who leads him into an orgy of lust, terror and sudden death!

The Invisibles