Monday, December 12, 2011

The Smuggler #2: Fools of the Trade

The Smuggler #2: Fools of the Trade, by Paul Petersen
September, 1974 Pocket Books

I've meant to continue reading this series for a long time now, but I've kept putting it off because it's so bad. And while this second installment is a bit better, it's still pretty stupid and ineptly written. By far this is one of the worst men's adventure series I've yet to review on this blog, down there with Tracker. And that's saying something!

Our hero is Eric Saveman, the Smuggler himself. Last time out we saw how he went from being a dope smugger to a globe-trotting spy. This volume changes things a bit in that Saveman has become basically a male version of The Baroness -- just like her, Saveman is a master of everything ever known to or created by man, and is perfect in every single way. He always comes out on top, not just when having sex, and just as in the superior Baroness series, there's tons of explicit sex scenes here, a lot more for sure than the previous installment, which as I recall was rather tepid in the sex and violence department.

Fools of the Trade (oh, what a title) though goes to the opposite extreme. Pages of graphically-depicted sex give way to moments of outrageous sadism. Truly depraved and twisted stuff which really makes the boring parts (of which there are a bunch) seem all the more boring. I mean, we have in this novel not only hot n' heavy moments where Saveman gets busy with a gorgeous lady scientist, but also bizarre stuff like where a hulking Haitian sadist whips people to death, complete with emasculating the men in the literal sense -- not to mention when he devises death-via-impalement for female prisoners...whose corpses he later takes back to his place for a bit of necrophilia.

And yet despite all of this, Fools of the Trade still sucks!! We meet up with Saveman as he's finishing his ultra-secret spy training; Saveman is somehow allowed to take part even though he isn't an official government agent and instead works as a freelance. (It should go without mentioning that he is of course that top student in his class and has beaten all past records, etc etc.) Meanwhile there's a subplot which at first seems important but instead spirals into oblivion: the government tracks its spies via a device implanted within their bodies; the technology behind this is compromised and the fear is that enemy hands will get hold of it and set off the "self destruct" mechanism which is apparently installed in all US government agents.

However the true plot concerns a handful of executives from the Canadian Spice Company (?) who are using a revolt-torn island in the Caribbean to mask their coffer-pilfering schemes (?). It's strange as hell, as the reader sets out prepared for one story but gets another, and the first story is the better one. Anyway Saveman eventually ends up on the island, Inagua, which is run by a useless local police force; the head of security is M'Bhutto, the aforementioned sadist who has brutally tortured, killed (and in some cases then had necrophiliac sex with) a few previous US agents.

Saveman is flown in by a female agent pilot who of course takes the opportunity to have sex with our boy while in flight. The average guy would be a bit exhausted after this, but Saveman's able to parachute out in the middle of the night and infiltrate Iguana. And hell, he's been here before, because he's totally perfect you see -- turns out he smuggled dope from the island back in his smuggler days. (Speaking of which, drugs are conspicuously absent this time out.)

M'Bhutto has another freelance agent imprisoned, Saveman gets caught but of course is able to free both himself and his fellow agent, all culminates in a lurid moment straight out of Blood Bath as M'Bhutto finds himself wearing a mask which has been outfitted with a wire cage compartment full of rats! And they chew their way through the wire and into his face and on through to the other side while M'Bhutto screams and screams, and the book still sucks!

Hard to believe, but five more volumes were to follow. Even harder to believe, I've got them and will eventually force myself to read them.


Tim Mayer said...

Ever encounter THE BOUNTY HUNTER series? I remember seeing it in used bookstores in the 1980's.

Joe Kenney said...

I've only heard of the Bounty Hunter series, and seen some of the covers here and there. I'm not even sure who wrote it or published it.