CriminOlly thinks: An un-engaging mix of casual racism and badly written action sequences. 2/5
Title: Stone: MIA Hunter | Author: Stephen Mertz | Series: MIA Hunter #1 | Publisher: New English Library | Pages: 139 | ISBN: 9780515080681 | Publication date: January 1985 | Source: Self-purchased | Content warnings: Yes | Tolerance warning: Yes
I need to find a way to remind myself that men’s adventure books are generally not as much fun as they sound. This one sucked me in with some glowing reviews and the hint of some sort of involvement from Joe R Lansdale, a writer with a good reputation and whose books (the few I have read) I’ve enjoyed. It appears that he wrote some of the later books in the series, although not this one. I’m not sure if the entries he penned are better than this one, but I don’t think I’ll bother picking them up.
Originally published in the 1980s this is almost exactly what you’d expect from its title, although it does throw in a couple of surprises. Hero Mark Stone and his sidekicks (one of whom is an unconvincing British SAS veteran) trek around Asia shooting the locals and rescuing imprisoned American soldiers. There’s the overt racism you’d expect, although Mertz does try to tone it down a bit by having some Asian characters who fight alongside the heroes, although they mostly act as cannon fodder. Stone also fights villainous non-white folk when he’s back in the USA. Tackling Latinx street gangs and drug dealers.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the action scenes aren’t great either. It’s one of those books that pays more attention to detailed descriptions of the guns the characters are using, than it does to building tension. When the main characters are basically indestructible, there isn’t a great deal of excitement to be had in putting them in dangerous situations. It’s a problem that central to any long running action series, and some books of this type manage to get away with it through decent writing or the sheer insanity of their premises, but this one failed to for me.
All in all, a bit of a damp squib then. It reads more like NRA produced porn than a thriller and is a pretty yawnsome as a result.
Mark Stone has a score to settle. A former Green Beret, he has only one activity that gives meaning to his life – finding American’s forgotten fighting men, the P.O.W.’s the government has conveniently labeled M.I.A.’s, and bringing them back from their hell on earth.
It’s too big a job for one man. But Stone has friends. And with Hog Wiley and Terrance Loughlin-a merc from east Texas and a crack British commando – Stone returns to the steaming jungles of Laos on a do-or-die mission: to free a captured fighter jock from the sadistic commander who has sentenced him to a fate worse than death….
Content Warning: Racism, rape, torture, drug abuse
Tolerance Warning: Racism, sexism