TNT #5: Killer Angel, by Doug Masters
January, 1986 Charter Books
(French publication, 1978)
Once again the order of the US and French publications of the TNT series matches up -- Killer Angel was the 5th installment of the series both here and in France, where it was titled Les Jeux D'Hercule (aka The Hercules Games, cover below).
In Italy on business (whatever that means -- I've yet to figure out what exactly Tony Nicholas Twin does for a living), Twin receives a telegram that his mentally-retarded daughter October is sick. Twin freaks and, unable to reach his home in Ireland due to a storm raging about the Mediterranean, charters a plane to get home immediately. But the plane ventures right into the midst of that storm and it loses an engine. It makes an emergency landing in Albania; the passengers are given temporary shelter by the tight-lipped Communist soldiers about, whom suspect this is some sort of Capitalist trick. Twin freaks again; his constant pleas for a telephone unanswered, he breaks free, killing guards left and right. But he's caught, sent to another compound, this one heavily guarded -- and there he sees, "coaching" a team of sportsmen, Arnold Benedict, Twin's archenemy/boss.
It turns out Benedict had nothing to do with Twin's emergency landing here in Albania. That the two men are here in this exact same place at the exact same time is just a coincidence. And it's a shaky one -- one of the rules of fiction is that coincidence should never rear its head. So then Killer Angel gets off on an unsteady foot. But once this is overlooked it turns out to be one of the best entries in the series.
Twin breaks free yet again and after a harrying chase across an Olympics-sized field he's caught...only to be sprung by Valka, the 600-pound powerlifting Russian last seen in TNT #2: The Beast. There Valka stole the show from Twin, and here he does so again. Benedict has brought Valka along to oversee the sporting events: long story short, Benedict has come to Albania to ensure that this area which is quite obviously a missile silo really isn't a missile silo. But Giallica Kadar, wife of the Albanian president, has turned the area into a state-of-the-art sports complex which she hopes will one day host the Olympics. She's employed a metal-legged freak named Dr. Amadeus who produces records-shattering athletes with his hynpotic training. Giallica is a regular destroyer-of-men, a phenomenally-figured beauty who has sex with men who resemble Joseph Stalin for the amusement of her husband -- who watches it all go down through a two-way mirror.
Giallica Kadar plans to unveil her new sports complex with The Hercules Games, a sequence of twelve events loosely patterned after The Labors of Hercules. But it will be a death-match, Dr. Amadeus's group of hynpotically-trained super-athletes against his first batch of trainees, a group of political prisoners who have been augmented to mutant levels by monstrous doses of steroids. The former will easily defeat the latter in Giallica's deadly events, and Twin vows to help in the cause -- he turns himself over to Giallica and her loyal soldiers and tells them he wants to compete in the Games.
There's a lot of plot-setting afoot but once it's out of the way Killer Angel really gets in gear, reaching a level of lurid sensationalism that nearly matches TNT #1. The Hercules Games are over-the-top in the way that only the TNT series can be: Twin must race against a tank while snipers shoot at him, wrestle juggernaut-sized opponents in complete darkness, and in the best sequence of all evade a scuba-outfitted opponent who chases Twin through an acid-filled tank, firing at him with a napalm-blasting flamethrower.
In the previous volume Twin had sex with 80 women; here he slows it down a bit and has sex with a mere 13. The first dozen are young female athletes whom Twin must bring to orgasm; if he fails, Giallica will have them strangled. After which he must couple with Giallica herself. Benedict has let it slip that Twin is the only man in the world who can have sex with a hundred women in one day, or pleasure a single women innumerable times, and Giallica wants to find out for herself. But Twin, despite his hatred for her, must take Giallica as if he truly loves her -- or else all 12 of the girls will die.
The novel builds to a climax in which the drug-fuelled political prisoners fight for their freedom, inspired by Twin's belief in their cause. There's also a nice twist on one of the Labors of Hercules as Twin saves the day, unblocking the dam which looms above the missile silo.
This is one of my favorites in the series. Good characterization, good writing ("Doug Masters" certainly has a way with describing environment and atmosphere), and despite having a bit more plot than the usual installment, it features one of the best death-maze sequences.
Here's the cover of the original French edition of the book, Les Jeux D'Hercule: