Pulp Paperback: The Smack Man by Jack Cannon #BookReview

In a world of junkies and whores, a killer’s on the loose – and Sgt,.Joe Ryker in on a rampage.

Title: The Smack Man | Author: Jack Cannon (aka Nelson DeMille) | Series: Joe Ryker #3 | Publisher: Grafton| Pages: 190 | ISBN: 9780586204597 | Publication date: 1975| Source: Purchased

I really enjoyed the first of Nelson DeMille’s Ryker books, ‘The Sniper’ which I reviewed here recently. Unfortunately, ‘The Smack Man’ didn’t grip me nearly as much. It’s the third book in the series of five and like ‘The Sniper’ was originally published in the 1970s and then revised by DeMille to bring it up to date and republished under the Jack Cannon pseudonym in the later 1980s. Because I’m an idiot, I read the books out of order (for some reason I had it in my head that this was books two). The second is, in fact, ‘Hammer of God’ which I have and will read soon. Whether I continue beyond that is in the lap of the gods. Books 4, 5 and 6 (‘The Cannibal’, ‘Night of Pheonix’ and ‘The Death Squad’) were never published in the UK and so are much harder to come by unless you’re willing to pay way over the odds for a trashy cop novel.

That preamble was so long because I don’t have much to say about ‘The Smack Man’. It’s another deliberately gritty (translation: unpleasant) read, but this time with the focus more on sex than the violence of ‘The Sniper’. The plot this time revolves around a batch of poisoned heroin that’s killing prostitutes around New York. Ryker investigates, along with a female undercover cop who he’s also having a relationship with.

That’s kind of it. There’s little or no suspense and no real action. Just plodding police work, the occasional grisly crime scene, and lots of unerotic sex. I finished it, but I didn’t enjoy myself nearly as much as I did reading ‘The Sniper’. That book was equally silly and unpleasant, but played like a greatest hits of ‘Dirty Harry’ rip offs and worked brilliantly as a result. By contrast ‘The Smack Man’ feels like a bad episode of a not very good TV show.


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