Monday, October 9, 2017

Kill Squad (aka Kill Squad #1)

Kill Squad, by Mark Cruz
No month stated, 1975  Manor Books

I had low expectations for this first volume of Kill Squad; after all, the third volume was pretty tepid. But damn if Dan Streib, posing as “Mark Cruz,” didn’t entertain me with this sleazy action yarn that makes no pretense at reality, coming off like a moronic but fun grindhouse film – one that makes sudden detours into pretty grim stuff.

This one really starts off the series, as the Kill Squad bands together, though Streib never actually refers to them as such. I guess this would be their origin story. Once again white cop Chet Tabor is the main protagonist, a good-looking blond-haired hunk of man with a scar on his face – a scar, we’re often reminded, which the ladies somehow find sexy. We learn this time that Tabor was once a sergeant in the San Diego PD, but got busted down to patrolman status after revenge-killing the criminal who gave him that facial scar. I don’t believe Streib mentions this time that Tabor is also a ‘Nam vet; I’m pretty sure he did in Dead Wrong, though I may be mistakenly thinking of Streib’s similar “killer cop” series Death Squad.

Streib as we’ll recall was the dude who wrote the subpar first two volumes of Chopper Cop, and whom series producer Lyle Kenyon Engel deemed a “not very good” writer. But it seems like Streib found his mojo in the interim between Chopper Cop #2 and this first Kill Squad, and indeed, it’s possible that this book started life as the third Chopper Cop Streib never wrote, as the antagonists this time are bikers – in fact they simply call themselves “The Bikers” throughout. But I’ll tell you this: this story is miles better than either of those Chopper Cop books Streib did, and it even has more bike-riding action than both of them put together!

We see the Bikers in action posthaste, as they run roughshod into quiet La Jolla, CA, bypassing Chet Tabor, who sits in his patrol car. Despite the progressivist weakenings enforced upon his department, Tabor refuses to just think of the bikers as tourists or whatever; his cop instincts tell him they’re trouble, here for no good, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to ignore his instincts, new departmental rules or not. This leads to a goofy bit where Tabor heads off a hundred bikers with nothing more than his Webbley revolver; Tabor is a gun-nut, by the way, with an “arsenal” in his apartment, and basically just picks a new gun to patrol with every day.

A riot threatens, with Tabor firing into the air and some bikers crashing into each other; he’s called for backup, and of course “big black cop” Grant Lincoln shows up. Tabor and Lincoln are already friends, and Streib implies they’ve had a sort of Razoni & Jackson-esque history, Lincoln constantly complaining how Tabor gets him in trouble. Lincoln by the way is considered a “black honkie” by the other black officers on the force, due to how clean-cut he acts! He saves Tabor’s ass, only for the two to get back to precinct HQ, where “stupid chief” Jackson bitches at them for their insubordinance. 

Chief Jackson has a new idea: he’s brought in a chaperone from the LAPD to watch over the pair. This is Sgt. Alvarez – Sgt. Maria Alvarez, the two cops are shocked to discover, with Tabor openly gawking at Maria’s big boobs and nice ass, both of which of course are prominently displayed by her too-tight uniform. There ensues such over-the-top rudeness from Tabor that it all comes off like the stupid sexual harrassment videos you have to watch every year in the corporate world, culminating with Tabor goosing Maria after she’s made Lincoln and him march through the detectives’s room like a pair of recruits.

Streib doesn’t waste any time on long-simmer attraction; despite her clear dislike of Tabor, Maria is also clearly just as attracted to him. Even after he calls her a “bitch” and storms off to his apartment, telling her he’s had enough of her shit for one day. She chases after him, snarling, and attacks him in his apartment, hissing and scratching at him, until Tabor bends her over his knee for a good spanking(!). This of course leads into some hot (off-page) sex. That out of the way, Tabor sneaks out on a sleeping Maria that night, having gotten a lead on one of those bikers – he lost his Webbley revolver in the riot, and knows they’re going to pull something with it.

He calls Lincoln and demands “the big black cop” get out of bed with his latest playmate. (“Finish her,” he orders Lincoln. “Climax her, pal.”) We get a cool, Cobra-esque part where the two engage in a shootout with a male-female pair of bikers who have knocked over a convenience store, the female taking a small boy hostage. Here Streib indulges in his recurring penchant of having a female character getting her eyeballs blown out – I swear this has happened in every Streib book I’ve read. But Tabor shoots the biker-chick right in the face, Streib gleefully documenting her exploding eyeball. This will actually happen again – two more times, to two different female characters – before the novel is over.

This scene features a bonkers finale in which Lincoln again saves Tabor’s ass, after which Tabor berates him, “Damn you, n – !” Streib leaves no racist or sexist stone unturned in this book, which is proof that, for once at least, the dude knew exactly the market he was writing for and just what sort of outrageous stuff was expected of him. Adding to this is how Maria comes off as so naïve and, well, stupid, despite being proclaimed as a medal-winning cop from Los Angeles. Not that Streib really does much to tell us how exactly she earned those commendations, or what exactly Jackson’s intent was to have her brought in as chaperone for Tabor and Lincoln.

But Maria is muleheaded that Tabor and Lincoln started this whole shootout, and also that Biker leader Paul Kane is really a nice guy and has no intentions, despite Tabor’s hunches, of starting any trouble in San Diego. To the point that she even goes with Kane to a nudist beach. This whole part is beyond silly, but again superb so far as exploitative material goes. Tabor and Lincoln secretly follow her, spying from afar as Kane’s biker minions and their sexy babes bare all and frolic on the beach. 

But when the sun goes down the sadism level goes up, with biker guys chasing biker girls around, tying them up, threatening to barbecue them, etc. Tabor and Lincoln are waylaid by a pair of biker chicks who try to have sex with them, but when Tabor sees one of the bikers going too far he rushes to the fray. He escapes yet another stomping thanks to sexy rich babe Jessica, the girl Tabor himself just saved from the sadistic bikers, a hotstuff blonde who clearly doesn’t belong with these biker scum but hangs out with them regardless – turns out she’s Kane’s woman, and is with him because he supplies her with heroin.

Tabor ends up having more off-page sex, this time with Jessica, who “thanks” him for saving her by taking a shower in front of him and inviting him in with her. This is all in her posh penthouse. She informs Tabor that Kane is planning a heist of a hundred banks tomorrow, to be carried out by his biker army – the exact plot, by the way, of The Blood Circus. So again,you can see how this novel is more “Chopper Cop” than either of the two books Streib actually wrote for that series. Jessica wants immunity in exchange for the info. 

Then Kane comes in, Maria in tow, his biker minions with him. Here the book takes that detour into grimness. Tabor goes for a gun, knowing he’s screwed, but stupid Maria stops him, still insisting Paul Kane is “a good man.” Then the bikers beat the shit out of Tabor and gang rape Maria. Tabor passes out during it, only to wake the next day, praying that Grant Lincoln will come save him (again!). This of course happens, leading to a reality-be-damned finale in which the three cops stop off at Tabor’s apartment and raid his arsenal.

Maria, in a daze after the rape and filled with vengeance, has deduced that Jessica hoodwinked Tabor – while the bikers are going to rob banks, Kane’s real goal is likely a heist of the massive Novak Bank downtown, owned by Jessica’s father, J. Robert Novak. (Hmmm…could Streib have been the “Robert Novak” who wrote the first two volumes of Belmont Tower’s Super Cop Joe Blaze series?) Armed with pistols, carbines, and on motorcycles of their own, the trio haul ass for the Novak bank, stopping the heist in progress. There ensues a bloody firefight in which more bikers (and biker-chicks) get their eyeballs blown out – and in which Maria gets her revenge on Paul Kane. And Streib delivers another recurring element, with his hero blowing away a woman he thought he was beginning to love, as for example in the finale of Death Squad #1.

Here the novel ends, with Maria’s raping being kept from Chief Jackson. It’s left up in the air if the three are even going to become a team, so maybe Streib wrote this not knowing if he’d write more volumes. There were four more volumes to follow, though; as mentioned, I didn’t enjoy the third one that much, but here’s hoping the other three are more along the grindhouse lines of this first one.

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