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Wednesday, December 14, 2016


The previous "M.I.A. Hunter" titles by house name Jack Buchanan were written by Stephen Mertz and Mike Newton. The share ration between the two is anyone's guess. However with book three, "Hanoi Deathgrip" (say "Deathgrip" like a 'rassler), the talented journeyman Joe Lansdale ("Batman", "Jonah Hex") steps up. Newton/Mertz were great. Lansdale is aw-aw-awesome. 

We start where any action tale worth it's salt begins...a whorehouse. That damned Texan Hog Wiley is throwing bodies out of windows and tearing up the cathouse like a rat on a cheeto. Luckily Terrance Louglin and our "M.I.A. Hunter" Mark Stone arrives to get Hog and head out for another stinkin' jungle adventure. But first...cue the flashback and tell us what this nonsense is really about.

Combat reporter/insert hottie Jackie Winslow shows up looking like an 80's Kathleen Turner. She's at Mark Stone's private eye firm to plead...for his assistance in rescuing her father from his Hell on Earth. Major/Dr. Winslow was captured doing some volunteer medical work in Laos. Stone and Winslow have a little attraction that Stone dismisses later (remember that Paula Abdul video where she dances with the cartoon cat...that was cool). Anyhoo Stone finds that the ISA has targeted his home and attempted to steal a bunch of his files (remember paper files, what a lark!). He turns over a van and gets them back in a dashing display of bravado. Moving on...

The three main characters do the normal song and dance of the series. They meet with some freedom fighters to thicken up the gun-soup and head into the jungle for the rescue. In the meantime Lansdale introduces us to the captive Winslow and some other Americans that are being held at "Insert Random Prison Name". Let's call it "IRPN" from here on out. Winslow is getting the stuffing knocked out of him by the cruel camp commander Po. This guy is pretty much the cookie-cutter of the prior series' commander villains. Lansdale does descriptive work with more gritty, albeit grizzly, details than his predecessors. The harsh treatment is depicted with no holds barred. The snake scene left me disgusted to say the least. 

Our non-profit heroes are meeting by the river to scrape on some black goo and waterpoof the goods. There they find that Jackie has joined them in full fatigues and combat get-up. She's ready for a fight. Hog loses his shit and he ain't gonna fight side-by-side with no snatchy snatch. But once Jackie proves she can shoot straight and ride a horse...Hell old Hog is fine with it. Fast forward past the near drowning, the snake viper fight (second book in a row that has Stone vs Snake by the way) and we are in the middle of a Jean Claude Van-Damne tournament fighter movie. Let's delve...

Po's brother is a fat brute named Tho. Get it? Po and Tho? C' gotta at least smirk at it. That shit's funny. Turns out Tho likes to duke it out and squash people half his size. Po has a giant battleground pit inside the IRPN and throws prisoners in for Tho to digest. Tho kills off three guys at once, which proves that a Hog vs Tho contest is sooooo on. But before that Winslow knows that he is the next food for Tho's ghastly combat diet. He wants to break out on the same night Stone wants to break in. How about them apples?

Winslow's break-out attempt is quickly squashed by Po and the two square off in a deadly torture session. Before Winslow expires Stone blows the damn gate off and our boys (and girl) are ready to machine gun it up. The group lights up the M-60 guard towers and soon this book comes down to the meat and potatoes. HOG VS THO! The two have an epic slobber-knocker for a full chapter. Hog wins. Texas wins. Lansdale wins. Tho dies. Po dies. Our heroes have won book three. How do they get back to the US? Where does Winslow go? Can he get back into the country? These are all excellent questions that the "M.I.A. Hunter" series never has time to answer.

End result? Lansdale creates a gritty and uber-violent tale that shows Stone doing what he does best. Shooting snakes and Cong with CAR-15s (those are Colt AR-15s for the newbies). That's what we came for, right?