Pulp Paperback: The Hammer of God by Jack Cannon #BookReview

A man in monk’s robes, The Hammer of God is butchering women to cleanse the world of witches. And maverick New York cop Joe Ryker is committing every sin in the book to bring him to justice!

Title: The Smack Man | Author: Jack Cannon (aka Nelson DeMille) | Series: Joe Ryker #2 | Publisher: Grafton| Pages: 223 | ISBN: 9780586204573 | Publication date: 1974 | Source: Purchased

‘The Hammer of God’ is the second of the Joe Ryker novels by Nelson DeMille (under the pseudonym Jack Cannon). I reviewed the first book, ‘The Sniper’, here and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, but this follow up is a bit of a letdown in comparison.

The plot, if you can call it that, revolves around a mad monk who is killing women he thinks are witches with an axe. His first victim, rather than being an actual witch, is an actress playing one in a staging of Macbeth. The murder is as salacious and graphic as you’d expect from a low rent pulp thriller, full of gore and naked flesh. Detective Ryker gets involved and brings the same cliched maverick cop stylings to the book. His investigation involves him and two other cops (one of whom is conveniently a super hot woman) infiltrating a coven of devil worshippers so that they can attend an orgiastic ceremony that they expect the mad monk to strike at.

That storyline is little more than an excuse for DeMille to graphically describe lots of depraved sex. S&M, lesbianism, humiliation, watersports, gay sex, it’s all here if you want it, along with lots of violence. It was the explicitness and DeMille’s willingness to heap abuse on Ryker that made the first book so disgustingly enjoyable. This time around there’s less of that masochism by proxy, and Ryker just comes across as an arsehole. The plot drags in between the sex and violence and I found the whole thing a bit of a bore. It really feels like DeMille churned this one out while he was half asleep to cash in on the success of the first book.

There are sparks of lunatic brilliance though, my favourite being this snippet:

The blade caught her just above the eyes and sliced off the top of her head. Having nothing to hold them in, her eyes dribbled down her ruined cheeks.

A book with prose like that in it can’t be all bad, can it?


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