It will soon be the perfect storm of violence as the coalescence of the fates will bring together a number of disparate individuals in the out-of-the-way bar The Howling Coyote in the small desert community of Eureka Springs.
Biker, bad-ass, psychopath, and hitman Sam "Wildman" Dean shows up at the bar-and-grill ready to take a contract so that he can make his fiftieth kill; Robert Barklin, mob lawyer has absconded with several millions of dollars of the mob's money, and he's sweating out the idea that his ex-compatriots are actively tracking him down, and bar owners Martin Harrison (aka Jim Lake) and Angelo Balducci (aka Anthony Baldone), who walked away from the Orion Project fourteen months ago, and are now hiding out with information on this new top-secret government invention and weapon. Then there is the dark, somber, mysterious stranger in the grill by the name of Mike Belasko (aka Mack Bolan), who is between jobs, but is "relaxing" by making everybody else in the grill nervous. To top it off, Kyle Braxton runs a four-man government black-bag hit squad, and they are moving in on the bar for a search-and-destroy mission, and they have been ordered to take no prisoners, whether they be man, woman or child. Then the crap hits the fan and there will be death, destruction, and plenty of blood.
But that's only the beginning, after the near massacre in which many will die, and few will survive, Bolan will have some top-secret intel fall into his lap. He will learn that a nearby secret installation has developed a new secret invention and that the head of security routinely executes nosey passersby. Try to kill Bolan and he takes it personal, kill the innocent and he goes on a mission, and he doesn't stop until all the guilty are punished, dead and buried.
This novel is certainly less cluttered than Stony Man #52: Tactical Response (Stony Man), the last Bolan super-thriller that I read in which Bolan, Stony Man, and the Phoenix Force all danced across the stage. Both that novel and this one were written by Dan Schmidt, and this is definitely the better of the two. Schmidt, who seems to favor secret governmental conspiracies, really takes his time to develop the opening situation, in the first hundred pages, as he quietly and effectively moves the characters around the stage until it all blows up into a respectable melée of organized chaos and mayhem. Although, after all of the build-up, I would have liked to have had Wildman have more influence on the proceedings. However, with a little re-writing, this first third could have stood on its own as a full-length novella.
After the first third however, everything falls into routine and clutter as it just wouldn't be a Bolan novel if some bikers and some made-men didn't paint the landscape red with their life's blood.
Behind it all is the traitorous and backstabbing Cromman, the former head of security of Area 51 and his toady Thomas Tharton who has arranged the massacre, and who is pulling the strings, and will bring in the bikers, the mob, the paranoid UFO fringies, two other black-bag para-military hit squads, all to protect a new anti-gravity device whose new radioactive power source has already been responsible for the death of one research team, and which is slowly and painfully killing Cromman, who is looking for payback for being retired, and for one last score.
I realize that big bangs and plenty of bloody death is why most of us tune-in to a Bolan super-thriller, but perhaps this novel, and Schmidt's best interests would have been served it there had been less death, less incompetent bad guys, less senseless massacres, there are at least four, and more of a concentration of creating one bad-ass bunch of tuffs that will battle Bolan all the way through the novel as Bolan whittles them down one at a time. Bolan is an indestructible killing machine, and what he needs is somebody that is his equivalent for him to square off throughout the novel.
Still, this is a science-fiction based episode of Mack Bolan's life, and it deserves, despite the sloppy clutter of the last third of this novel, a full-four star rating based on the first one-hundred pages alone. A one-hundred page chunk of "Dark Truth", the eighty-fourth novel in the Mack Bolan superthriller series by Don Pendleton's ghost writer Dan Schmidt that I read in almost one sitting.
For this site I have read and reviewed these other action adventure thrillers, most with fantastic elements to them, and anything hyperlinked are things that I especially liked or found interesting.
"Barb Wire": Novelisation by Neal Barrett, Jr.
The Blonde by Duane Swierczynski.
The Condemned (WWE) by Rob Hedden.
Deadfall by Shaun Jeffrey.
THE DESERT by Bryon Morrigan.
The Destroyer #141: Frightening Strikes (Destroyer) by Warren Murphy & Richard Ben Sapir (Tim Somheil)
The Executioner #325: Edge Of Hell by Don Pendelton (Doug Wojtowicz).
Hell Island by Matthew Reilly
Hitman: Hitman: Enemy Within by William C. Dietz.
Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski.
Stony Man #52: Tactical Response by Don Pendleton (Dan Schmidt).