The Undertaker #2: Black Lives Murder, by John Doe
“January, 1968” Pernicious Books
John Doe wasn’t joking when he told me that this second volume of The Undertaker was “more fun” than the first volume. Don’t get me wrong, Death Transition was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. But Black Lives Murder is hilarious from start to finish; the Destroyer similarities are even stronger this time, at least so far as the spoofy nature goes. With the important caveat that one again things are important to the characters, and not just a joke like things are in The Destroyer.
As with Death Transition, this second volume retains the “vintage replica” gimmick, with the paperback being the exact measurement of one from the 1970s and sporting the same pulpy paper. It even has the same bogus publication date as Death Transition. But I’d say the title is also reminiscent of those old paperbacks. Something that has occurred to me is how fearless the paperback imprints were in the ’70s. They’d routinely publish stuff like The Savage Women, or have their action-series protagonists darken their skin to go undercover among black criminals. There were no concerns about offending anyone; if there was a societal trend, they’d exploit it. If the “summer of love” had occurred in 1974 instead of 2020, you can be sure Pinnacle or Leisure or Manor would’ve done a book that showed the ”peaceful protesters” as villains to be mopped up by some hero. Since no book publisher today has the guts to do so, it’s up to John Doe and his Pernicious Books. (Actually it’s now Tocsin Press, but more on that later.)
And boy does he deliver. If Warren Murphy had been around during those BLM and antifa riots in the summer of 2020, I want to believe he would’ve written a Destroyer novel with a plot similar to Black Lives Murder. If you too boiled with rage as “peaceful protesters” burned, looted, and murdered across the US during that summer, then you’ll definitely enjoy this novel – I mean, even if there was no retribution in the real world, at least we can experience it vicariously as Victor Underhill, The Undertaker, dispenses some much-needed justice on the “woke horde.” While series co-protagonist Deputy Ivan Gore’s hands are tied by city officials who are bizarrely enough on the side of the rioters, The Undertaker as ever is free to mete out the proper punishment to those who defile society. Plus this time we learn that he has a hotstuff assistant, a buxom brunette named Alyssa who is aware of Underhill’s secret role as The Undertaker.
Whereas Death Transition was more of a suspenseful police procedural with darkly comic overtones, John Doe opens up the narrative for this second volume, giving us a broader look at the progressivised hellhole that is the city of Pandemont. The character relationships are also expanded upon; we learn that Deputy Harris, Gore’s bumbling redheaded colleague, is in love with a Vietnamese gal who works in a massage parlor. There’s also pretty Deputy Jackson, a black lady who teaches “diversity class” for the department but rails against BLM and the rioters who are ripping up the city – and quits the force when she learns the city is more concerned with protecting them than stopping them. Most importantly, Gore and Underhill have more of a relationship here; while they only met once in the previous volume, we learn that now Gore will purposely give business cards for Underhill’s funeral home to the families of victims…victims who have been killed be perpetrators outside the law. This is Gore’s signal to Underhill that vengeance needs to be sown by The Undertaker. It’s now four months after Death Transition, and Gore is at war with himself over how, due to this, he’s no longer a “good cop.” Rather than arrest Underhill, Gore keeps going back to him, “like a dog returning to its vomit.”
Underhill himself is more of a character in Black Lives Murder. In the first book he was a shadowy figure, usually appearing as “the man in black” or in some other disguise as he went about sowing bloody vengeance. It was only toward the end of the novel that we learned how Underhill, an elderly funeral home director, grew incensed enough at the social ravages of wokeism that he decided to become The Undertaker and mete out savage justice. This time he’s fully unleashed; with his trench coat, serrated blades, and tendency to quote Paradise Lot he reminds me more of Hannibal Lecter than a men’s adventure hero. And yet that’s precisely the point, as this volume Gore realizes that Underhill is “insane.” Throughout Black Lives Murder Underhill almost casually – and gorily – dispatches several antifa and BLM thugs.
If you spent the summer of 2020 wondering how all those blue cities could keep burning, with no one doing anything to stop the rioting and looting, Doe presents a very compelling explanation. We learn through the corrupt commissioner of Pandemont, Nancy Palisades, that an “organization” approached various city leaders a few months before the summer, selling “packages” based off an “inciting incident” that would soon sweep across the country. With scripts to follow, promised air time with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, and various levels of services (based on how much you pay, of course), this organization promised to use the “incident” to catapult the various city leaders into lucrative political careers. The “directors” of the affair would chose some race-based incident and “make it big,” after which teams of organizers would oversee rioting in the various cities – ensuring a proper racial mix of rioters so there’d be enough blacks there chanting for social justice – with even guidelines for the police to follow to give protection to the rioters. Despite her own corruption, even Palisades is taken aback by the organization’s goal to encourage looting:
In other words, the entire “peaceful protest” movement is a callous marketing initiative, complete with scene-setters straight out of Hollywood who converge upon participating cities and orchestrate the chaos for the best TV coverage. At no point is the “plight” of black Americans ever a concern; it’s all about money, political power, and TV ratings. The riots have already started in Pandemont when the novel begins, but they haven’t reached the levels of New York or Chicago or Los Angeles – because, we’ll soon learn, Commissioner Palisades didn’t pay as much as those cities. It isn’t even the rioting that makes Gore decide to call in Underhill this time; in an eerie opening scene that recalls the horror vibe of Death Transition, Deputies Gore and Harris discover the corpse of a pretty young black girl in a desolate church…and Gore is sickened to discover that she has been branded with a demonic face and a pentagram. When the woke “fish-lipped lump” of a coroner refuses to denigrate a “minority religious group” in his report (ie Satanism), Gore sends the grieving mother to the Milton Funeral Home, which ultimately brings The Undertaker onto the scene.
There are hilarious setpieces throughout Black Lives Murder. One in particular occurs early on, when Gore and the rest of the deputies are assembled for a briefing, and their assumption is they’ll be given the go-ahead to take down the rioters. Instead, the city managers and the FBI tell them that the real threat they need to be on the lookout for is white supremacists (complete with the FBI agent showing a photo of a KKK member in the 1800s). They also play a video recording of some rioting in the city…and what they’re upset about is the “All Lives Matter” sign that is visible in the footage. The leaders are shocked that this “hate speech” got by the Pandemont police; unfortunately the building it was spraypainted on was burned down by the rioters, so they won’t be able to find out who spraypainted it. All this is properly hilarious, but with a bitter aftertaste, as one can’t help but suspect that it’s a reflection of the real briefings that took place in precincts across the US in the summer of 2020. I also loved how the city officials kept referring to black Deputy Jackson as “the deputy of color.”
Gore sees a lot more action this time. Boisterous Sherrif Bullard resents the order from Commissioner Palisades that his deputies stand down and not impede the rioters, and thus Bullard sends Gore on an “unofficial” surveillance of the MAZ. Yes, Doe even works in a parody of the “Temporary Autonomous Zone” that existed in Seattle during that fateful summer…and I recall wondering at the time if I was one of the few “normal” people who knew that the entire concept was lifted from Hakim Bey’s book of the same name. (I was always drawn to the wacky ideas of Bey, aka Peter Lamborn Wilson, in particular his writings on “pirate utopias,” but that didn’t mean I thought those wacky ideas would ever work in the real world.) This is another highly entertaining sequence, as Gore gets a glimpse of the “peaceful protesters” in the MAZ…in particular the girls:
While the antifa crew is mostly comprised of pasty-skinned white guys with too much estrogen in their diet, Gore sees that out in the periphery lurks the real muscle: a contingent of hulking black guys. All this is very Warren Murphy-esque as these thugs literally come out of the darkness to grab the white girls away from their antifa boyfriends and take them off to be gang-banged. Indeed, to “fuck the white privilege” out of them. And when the girls complain about being sore, the hulking black guy in charge goes into racial grievances, about how his people still had to work, even after they were whipped and beaten by their white owners: “I can feels it in my bones!” The absurd modern notion of people who were never slaves demanding “repartations” from those who never owned slaves is well and fully mocked in this novel. Gore, despite being undercover, can’t sit by while a girl is gang-raped against her will, and follows after. He finds that a mattress store has been transitioned into a rape den, and watches in shock:
Overall there is a more risque vibe to this second volume, which I always appreciate. In particular there is Rachel Palisades, mentioned in the excerpt above, beautiful blonde daughter of Commissioner Nancy Palisades. She’s a depraved wanton who is obsessed with black men, and she somewhat reminded me of the similarly-depraved twin girls in The Destroyer #5. Given to wearing “Black Size Matters” shirts and starring in porn videos titled “Built For BBC,” Rachel has created a veritable cottage industry in Pandemont, filming herself having sex with an endless tide of black men. The MAZ exists due to her demanding one from the organizers of the protests, even though the “package” Rachel’s mother bought for Pandemont didn’t include one.
Probably the most humorous – and craziest – sequence in the novel is an actual, would-you-believe-it parody of an infamous incident in recent U.S. history. I won’t get into the full details, as it’s my hope this novel will soon be available for others to purchase and enjoy for themselves, but Doe so skillfully plays this out that it only slowly dawned on me that it was a parody. I’ll just say that it features the ever-bumbling Deputy Harris desperately trying to give a mortally-wounded black thug a massage, using a special Vietnamese massage style Harris learned from his girlfriend…all while dumbfounded rioters get the act on livestream. This scene seriously had me laughing. Yet another hilarious Warren Murphy-esque sendup of reality that wouldn’t have been out of place in a vintage Destroyer novel.
The livestream of Harris makes Pandemont the “epicenter” of the cross-country protests, with more rioters converging on the city and every major news outlet promptly sending down crews. (“CNN had flown in both their homosexual news anchors.”) Doe really pulls out all the stops in the final quarter, with Gore’s wife Amanda nearly being raped by “peaceful protesters” and Underhill showing up on the scene to raise further hell. Turns out my hunch in Death Transition was correct, as Underhill really is a sort of modern-day pulp hero, a la The Spider, with a seemingly-limitless supply of gadgets and accessories, including even a “souped-up hearse retrofitted with flamethrowers.” This vehicle features in another humorously dark bit where Underhill runs into (so to speak) a gaggle of BLM and antifa who are blocking an intersection. The finale is even more wild, and I can’t give any of it away, as Doe skillfully ties up all his threads in fitting fashion…complete with Underhill himself posing as a BLM activist and pushing the rioting throng in a very unexpected direction.
I’ll be honest, folks, I’ve been pretty bummed these past several months over the sad and pathetic state of our country, in which the moronic virus that is wokeism has infiltrated almost every area of life (even kindergarten classrooms!). Not to mention the shutdown of any voices that speak out against the insanity. It makes me very, very happy that there are talented, smart, and hilarious people like John Doe out there who are on the side of rationality and who are capable of writing books like this. It honestly gives me hope for the future. I mean the entirety of Black Lives Murder is genius-level satire. And the writing is strong to boot. There are memorable prhases throughout, with evocative imagery. Like in the climax, when the spirit of the rioters has been gutted and “[Their] chanting became discordant and confused, like the bleating of sheep whose shepherd has wandered away.”
The “more to come” faux advertisement page at the back of the book states that the third Undertaker will be titled The Thin Black Line. This is a phrase mentioned at the denoument of Black Lives Murder; Gore considers himself a representative of “the thin blue line,” being in law enforcement. Allysa, Underhill’s sexy assistant with the “hypnotic smile,” tells Gore that she and Underhill – and soon, she suspects, Gore himself – are actually on the “black” line. So my assumption is this third installment will further demonstrate Gore’s moving over to Underhill’s philosopy of just killing people “who are already dead,” ie the mindless woke horde that is destroying Pandemont (and Western civilization itself). I also know from John Doe that the third volume might touch on the capricious Covid mandates, and boy that leaves all kinds of room for Doe’s biting satire – I’d love to see what Underhill has to say about “following the science,” which of course seems to change based on the latest polling results.
It was a definite pleasure to read these two volumes of The Undertaker. I can only thank John Doe for sending them to me. And he is currently working on a way to get the books out to a wider audience. As mentioned above, Pernicious Books has become Tocsin Press (Pernicious Books was already taken, it turns out). I think this is just as fitting a name, as tocsin is an archaic word meaning “an alarm bell or signal,” per the Oxford Dictionary. Indeed, “a tocsin to warn of the danger of dictatorship.” John Doe has just set up a website: Tocsin Press. There you will find listings for the two volumes of The Undertaker...as well as another book by a different author. Hopefully more titles will be listed soon, and John Doe is working out the mechanisms of ordering and payment. His excellent copy on the site well sums up the aim of Tocsin Press, and gives one an idea of the similarly-gifted narrative style that graces the two volumes of The Undertaker. Here's hoping there will be many more volumes to come!
Finally, here’s the back cover of Black Lives Murder: