Monday, June 6, 2022

QUICK SHOTS: Hunter #2: Operation Alpha Death by Norman Conway

Coming out of the same publisher as the awesomely odd Kirby Carr Hitman books, the two-book Hunter series by Norman Conway really stands out amongst its competitors. I mean, what other books in the Men's Adventure genre feature clowns, no wait, Action Clowns, yeah, so prominently? None, because I suppose all other authors (including me) are cowards. Anywho, Canyon Books was an off-shoot of Major Books which was all probably some sort of Mafia-dodge. It seems to be the case with a lot of these small-time publishers. I could be wrong, but whatever Canyon put out some weird books, so Pulp-God bless them. 

I was at work and bookless on a slow day. Luckily my store *cough* Robot Roy's Toys and Books *cough* is well stocked in the stuff I like. Hell, my name's in the store name. So, after trying to get into a Death Merchant, I gave up and pulled "Hunter #2: Operation Alpha Death" off the shelf, not expecting much and promptly read it in whirlwind. I have both books in my personal collection, but only a copy of #2 to sell or I would have read #1 but it didn't prove to be a big deal. 

Super-badass lawyer-turned-mystic avenger-turned-carnival owner is taking a break from the carnie life in the mountains of a Ruritanian country when he spots a good-looking woman (naturally) and a kid running from an army patrol unit out for blood. He does that badass thing, saves them and then the ball is rolling. Hunter, you see was a lawyer who went up into the mountains in China (I think) to learn the mystic arts, like the Green Lama or Iron Fist to come back and do good for the world also to run the circus he inherited. So, Hunter and the folks he saved hold up in his rented borderland mountain villa and Hunter gets some visions of his Master-guy who tells him he's got a mission, if he should choose to accept it. Then ANOTHER circus with another mystic-avenger type leading it rolls up to help out. Whew.

Along the way there's nearly non-stop action and intrigue. Mountain escapes, ice bridges, commando raids, tough carnies, random psychic ability and ACTION CLOWNS! Seriously this a wild book just crammed full of tropes and tall tales. I loved it, I'm all in for this kind of funky action-stuff. Conway's tongue must have found his cheek, it's full of exuberance for pulp-fiction. Now, it's not going to change your life, but it's worth a couple of hours of reading it and at least it's different. Majorly different.

Now, who was Norman Conway? Was he Norman Conway? The Internet Speculative Fiction Database website credits Conway as Fleming Lee who ghost-wrote The Saint for Leslie Charteris, ISFDB is pretty good most of the time and The Spy Guys and Gals website echos this. But the Catalog of Copyright Entries for 1975 credit "Operation Alpha Death" as Norman Conway pseud. of Mark Rust. Though #1 "Operation Omega" is indeed credited to Fleming Lee in the Catalog of Copyright Entries for 1974. So, I guess Fleming Lee had some wild ideas, wrote book #1 only to not write #2. Enter Mark Rust. It seems odd that Canyon would hire someone else to write #2. I'm sure it didn't sell in The Executioner numbers. There's plenty of #1's in Men's Adventure fictions with no #2s. Ah, publishing mysteries. 

Whoever wrote it I liked it.

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