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Thursday, 2 August 2012

Dirty Harry - The Lost Adventures

DUEL FOR CANNONS - Dirty Harry blasts into print.

Duel for Cannons
Dane Hartman
This edition New English Library 1982
by arrangement with Warner Books

Boopsie's head exploded. One second the cartoon character was bending down to shake the little girl's hand, the next second hunks of thick, painted plastic were flying off in all directions.

That subtle piece of prose opens Duel for Cannons - the first in a twelve books series of continuation adventures for San Francisco's finest, Harry Callahan. Written by Dane Hartman - which was a house name owned by Warner Books which was used by at least two American writers, Ric Meyers (who was actually responsible for this title) and Leslie Horvitz. Although there were 12 books in the series, only six were published by the UK house, NEL. In the US, which always gets more of this sort of thing that us Brits, the books were published under the, "Men of Action" series but there was no such overall series umbrella for the UK editions.

Anyone know what characters were covered under the Men of Action line? There seems to be no information on the series on the net and I assume the line also contained characters other than Dirty Harry.

 "The project was brought to me by my agent at the time, who had a strong relationship with an editor over at Warners Books.  Warners was starting a new line of male adventure series called Men of Action, with the Dirty Harry series being the jewel in the crown.  This was at the time when mens’ adventure books, like The Executioner and The Destroyer, were at their most popular.  By this time I had already written a few Destroyer novels, an Incredible Hulk novel, and some non-fiction books on films and television, so both my agent and the Warners editor thought I’d be good for Harry." Rick Meyers author of Duel for Cannons.

The book open in explosive fashion with cop, Boris Tucker involved in a shoot out in an amusement park with a trained assassin. It's a fairly weighty chapter which builds up a back story for Tucker only to have him blown away at the end of the chapter in an effective scene. Cue Dirty Harry Callahan investigating the shooting (there's some great dialogue in these early scenes that recall the film series) and eventually finding himself heading to Texas where the climax of the novel will take place at The Alamo.

It's all enjoyable nonsense but one major continuity error brought me out of the story - the books are set after the events in the three Dirty Harry movies up to that point - and yet Harry's partner, Digeorgia is back - the character was killed off in the movie, The Enforcer. This seems a odd mistake to make.

If you're a Dirty Harry fan you'll enjoy this book - it was written to cash in on the character, disposable literature as are many film/TV tie-ins but it's all good fun - a fast read from a time when fast reads were the order of the day. And taking Eastwood's big city cop to a semi-Wild West Setting, kind of Coogan's Bluff in reverse, works really well with the character and despite the continuity flaws I enjoyed this book. I picked it up and three hours or so later I was done.

Having enjoyed this continuation of Harry's screen adventures. I'll certainly be keeping my eye open for more of these books.

As stated there were twelve books in the US series but only six made it to the UK. The titles that had a British publication are pictured left.And I own all six thanks to a visit to Cardiff's excellent Troutmark Books in the Castle Arcade, but I'm just going to have to dig deeper for those remaining US only books.


BISH said...

More books under the Men Of Action umbrella ...

Ninja Master by Wade Barker (Kung Fu clone)

The Hook by Brad Latham (1930s private eye)

S-Com by Steve White (Strategic Commandos – military action)

C.A.T. by Spike Andrews (Crisis Aversion Team)

Boxer Unit OSS by Ned Cort (WWII action)

The Falcon by Marc Ramsay (Medieval crusades action - pseudonym for John Maddox Roberts of SPQR historical action mysteries)

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Thanks Bish.

Brian Drake said...

Watch The Enforcer again.

Harry's partner is never officially declared dead. We see him possibly start to die and ask Harry to get his wife...perhaps he survived after all?