Wednesday, June 22, 2022

QUICK SHOTS: .357 Vigilante #2: Make 'em Pay by Ian (Lee Goldberg) Ludlow

Before I really paid too much attention to the Men's Adventure genre, I did know about Pinnacle's short-lived .357 Vigilante books. I knew them because I was a fan of Lee Goldberg (especially "The Man with the Iron-On Badge) and I somehow figured out he wrote them. So, the first book in the had been on my shelf for a long time. When I started to figure out M.A.-fiction is what I was looking for, I promptly cracked open the spine and had a good 'ol time with it. It took a bit before I tracked down the other two Pinnacle put out and it's taken even longer to tackle them. Sometimes my stupidity astounds me.

Lee Goldberg took on the VERY authorly-name of Ian Ludlow when he started writing the .357 Vigilante series back in the day. Later he would write books ABOUT his pseudonym with the Ian Ludlow series. Which stars Ludlow as a thriller writer pushed into living one of his book plots, but that's a different story. Brett Macklin is the .357 Vigilante or actually really, he's Mr. Jury. Mr. Jury seems to be Lee's preferred series title since that's what they are republished as. Brett's got a grudge against crime to the murder of his policeman father; with his dad's revolver he dispatches fast judgement when the law fails. By the 80's this was old-hat within the genre. You already had The Executioner, The Reprisalizer, two The Revengers, The Sharpshooter, The Marksman, and so on, but Lee made the genre conventions work for him. The Mr. Jury books are probably about the most fun you can have doing so vicarious vigilanting. 

"Make 'em Pay" is about a the vilest of subject, entering Andrew Vachss territory. Even the cover is super tough to look at. But, as you know dear reader: a vile villain only makes the outlaw justice more satisfying. Brett goes up against a nasty porn-killer who rapes, murders and (of course) is untouchable by the courts. Brett's an everyman protagonist. He's got no tough-guy past or special training, just a pilot with a gun and some luck. He's also not as insane as say, Mike Barry's Lone Wolf and questions his violent actions. It gives enough introspection to make it easy to root for him. It's pretty refreshing compared to the other heroes of Men's Adventure fiction, a lot which are, well, sorta just big 'ol assholes. There's plenty of smooth and fast action that builds to a nice high-energy "action-movie" finale, colorful characters, some Hollywood in-jokes, different ways to use ice cream and a lot of fun banter. 

The .357 Vigilante series is top-shelf 80's adventure fiction. There's a reason Goldberg is still a successful author and it's fantastic that these books are still in print now through Brash Books, including the never released 4th novel. And I'm not just saying all this because I've done a little writing work for Brash Books *cough* "A Bullet for a Bride" by Jon Messmann *cough* or anything, they are just good books.  


  1. Thanks for that review. I'm a fan of Lee's novels about the character Ian Ludlow, but have not read the novels he penned under the pen name Ian Ludlow. Now I want to. Cheers!
    - Bob Deis,

  2. Thanks for reading it! As a frequent visitor to, I can safely bet that you will enjoy them!

  3. Legal system ought to definitely punish rapists