Thursday, April 26, 2012

Soldier For Hire #8: Jakarta Coup

Soldier For Hire #8: Jakarta Coup, by Mark K. Roberts
No month stated, 1983 Zebra Books

I learned about this series through Michael Newton's 1989 book How To Write Action-Adventure Novels. Newton ranted and raved about this particular installment of the series throughout that book, going on about the author's not-very-veiled political commentary, the "repulsive" female villain and her weird sexual quirks, and on and on, even mentioning a scene where blustering hero J.C. Stonewall (!) cursed at the sea for nearly drowning him, thus almost robbing him of the chance to "continue killing commies." (In point of fact, I've discovered this scene doesn't actually occur in Jakarta Coup; it's in the fifth volume of the series, Libyan Warlord.)

Anyway, Newton's comments had me raring to read this book, which by all accounts sounded like full-on parody. And the book really was everything I wanted it to be -- just an over the top explosion of Right Wing sermonizing and terrorist killing, with a lot of goofy and explicit sex thrown in. The book is more Team America than Team America, and reading it you'd never guess that this is the same Mark Roberts who wrote the even-numbered volumes of The Penetrator. The tone, style, and antics of the protagonist are wholly different than anything I've read from Roberts in that earlier series, so the question is, was he just hamstrung by Pinnacle Books, or did Zebra Books ask him to go over the top with Soldier For Hire?

The series was actually begun by a different author, Robert Skimin, who wrote the first four volumes. Mark Roberts took over the series with the fifth volume, writing it all the way through to this last installment. The "hero" of the series is the aforementioned J.C. Stonewall, white-haired Vietnam vet who basically lives to kill Communists. Seriously, the man has such a red-hot burning hatred for them that even Richard Camellion would be taken aback. Stonewall's wife or something was killed by them, and now every Communist Stonewall kills is seen as a retribution for her murder. But then, Stonewall is very liberal in his definition of what a Communist is -- terrorists, criminals, Democrats; they're all commies, and they all deserve to die.

Reading Newton's scathing (but curiosity-generating) comments about this book had me certain that it had to be a parody. Understand then my shock when Mike Madonna, owner of The Fabulous Mrs. Poopenplatz blog, told me that it was his understanding that Roberts did not intend the Soldier For Hire books as a parody! Mike knew Roberts pretty well and has shared with me a lot of great information about him and other action-series authors he has known over the years (including the interesting tidbit that Dan Schmidt, whom Mike also knew, was pals with Joseph Rosenberger!). Anyway, Mike has told me that, though Roberts had a sense of humor, he was quite serious in his political views, and was not using the Soldier For Hire books as a way to spoof the Right Wing mindset or anything else.

But reading Jakarta Coup, quote Frank on Everybody Loves Raymond: "Jeez oh lou!" If you sat down and tried to come up with a list of things to spoof in an action novel, you still couldn't top this novel. Stonewall, our "hero," is a chauvinistic blowhard who hates everyone, picks up ladies and casts them aside, lives to kill commies and terrorists, and takes every opportunity to rant and rave against his arch-enemy Senator Ned Flannery, a far-left Democract who is in no way similar to Senator Ted Kennedy, at all.

Mike Madonna has also told me that Kennedy's people actually found about about the blatant Kennedy-bashing in the Roberts installments of this series, and I guess word made its way to Roberts, who was told to ease up, but he didn't -- though he doesn't appear in Jakarta Coup, Flannery's name is invoked by not only the Liberal politicians but even by the terrorists, both of whom admire the guy. Hell, the Liberals even openly side with the terrorists, complaining about "the savage" currently in the White House -- ie Ronald Reagan, whom the good-guy Right Wingers lovingly refer to as "Good ol' Ronnie!"

The plot is really just a framework for the Kennedy-bashing and the frequent sex scenes, which I will get to posthaste. Stonewall's m.o. is that he hires himself out to whoever needs him, and if he can use the job as a means to kill more commies, then so much the better. Stonewall is hired by the Indonesian government to train an anti-terrorist taskforce; a Communist-backed terrorist force called KAM is causing dissent in Jakarta, and the government needs help in dealing with them. Stonewall has a team, apparently, but this time he only brings along two of them: Theo, a black soldier (and boy, are we reminded every time he appears that Theo is black), and Ed Cotter, a nonentity who I think only had about four lines in the entire book.

A goodly portion of the novel is given over to Stonewall training the Indonesian task force, and it all reads like some WWII novel. Indeed, much of Jakarta Coup is similar to a war novel; even the action scenes come off in that regard, in particular the finale, which finds Stonewall and his men making a beachhead assault, complete with mortars and tanks. But the pulpy stuff makes it all more than worth it. Also worth noting is that Roberts doesn't play up too much on the gore. In fact I believe the Penetrator books of his I've read are actually a bit more gory. But then, none of them I've read have been as laugh-out-loud funny as Jakarta Coup.

Special mention must be made of the villains. Leading the KAM faction is Pomo, an Indonesian rebel with dreams of conquest but who takes the opportunity to run from every fight. Most enjoyably though we have Margot Anstruther, an 18 year-old blonde Australian beauty who was raised by left-wing parents who sent Margot to a radical terrorist camp in the Middle East when she was 13. While there, we learn in a brief background, Margot discovered sex and "practically raped" the few-hundred men and boys in her camp. Now she gets off on combat, becoming sexually aroused while fighting and killling. It was this character whom Newton found so "repulsive" in his How-To book, but, as you could no doubt guess, her scenes were my favorite in the book -- I consider warped and evil female villains to be the very essence of pulp fiction.

As for the sex scenes...again, above and beyond anything else I've read by Roberts. Stonewall is described as a veritable mountain of muscle, and apparently irresistible to the lady folk. While in Singapore in the opening of the novel, Stonewall manages to pick up "the only white woman" in the city, and Roberts writes a graphic scene between the two (quoted below). Then, just a few pages later, Stonewall, now in Jakarta, picks up another lady, this one a cute Indonesian model named Lisa who joins our hero for an even more explicit scene -- one complete with "pearls of heaven," which Lucy inserts into various of Stonewall's orificies...that is, after she's given the man an apparently 30-minute blowjob...!

Anyway, I'm just gonna start quoting stuff, because the book sells itself.

Not-very-veiled Ted Kennedy-bashing:

"At least he won't be running for President," Theo observed.

"Don't fucking count on it," Stonewall snapped. "He said the same thing last time, then campaigned like mad for it. It was the same old shit four years before that. He's just angling to get the loyal party hacks to beg him to take the nomination."

"The Flannerys do seem to think they are the rightful pretenders to the throne of North America," Ed allowed.

"Yeah. King Ned the First," Stonewall shot back. "King of the sewer rats, if you ask me."

Jaw-dropping sex scenes with equally jaw-dropping dialog:

Audry did something at the side of her surong and it fell away, revealing her ripe, alabaster body. She came to him in a rush, fingers flying to undo his belt and open his trousers. She let them drop and pressed her naked flesh against the bulge that distorted the front of his undershorts. Her blonde-thatched mound, glistening with moist readiness, throbbed against the pulsing organ separated from her center of passion by a thin weave of white cotton cloth.

"You are the stuff of my dreams, J.C. Hurry, fill me with that enormous phallus before I lose my cookies right here."

The depraved female villain, complete with incorrect ammunition detail (AK-47s actually fire 7.62mm "slugs"):

They entered a wall-less, roofed-over drying shed and sprinted to the other side. Margot raised her AK-47 and sent a squirt of 5.56mm slugs at the legs of a soldier who stood with his back to them.

He uttered a short, harsh cry of pain and fell to the ground. With an effort the man rolled over toward his enemy. Grinning wildly, Margot raised the muzzle of her Soviet-made weapon and fired again, trashing his genitals. A gasp of passion, that sounded more like a sob, escaped from Margot's lips and, with her left hand, she began to grope her crotch. Pomo shook his head and turned away.

Political commentary, courtesy our learned protagonist, with additional not-very-veiled Ted Kennedy bashing:

"Bullshit. If it weren't for fuzzy-brained, pseudo-intellectuals like you, with your heads stuffed full of Liberal crap, terrorist slime like Pomo wouldn't last five minutes in anyone's country. Christ! I don't know why I'm wasting my fucking time with you. You're no better than that Leftist bastard from Iran who joined forces with the anti-gun pricks in California last year. You both do an excellent job of reflecting the philosophy of that bunny-bashing wimp who gave you your posts."

There are only two disappointments in Jakarta Coup. For one, Margot Anstruther talks Pomo into allowing her to seduce Stonewall, who has never met her. Margot's plan is to take Stonewall to a nearby hotel room, where Pomo's soldiers can come in and kill Stonewall while Margot is "frigging him." While Roberts sets up this scene, he has Pomo's men act too early, thus we never get the scene that would have undoubtedly been the most fun in the book. Secondly, Roberts intimates that the next volume would feature Stonewall in action in the US -- and possibly going up against Ned Flannery and his armed goons as well.

So far I only have one other volume of the Roberts-penned installments of the series: #5: Libyan Warlord, which was his first. I can only hope it will be as enjoyable (for all the wrong reasons) as Jakarta Coup.


RJR said...

Mark Roberts was kind of a lovable nut, a bit of a blowhard, but a productive writer. I can't say we were friends, but we were on friendly terms and attended many of the same Western Writers conventions, along with Mike Madonna.

Brian Drake said...

I had to read this review for the same reasons you wanted to read the book--I have Newton's How To and I've always wondered if it is as bad as he said. Thanks! This was fun to read.