don pendleton

Review of ‘War Against the Mafia’

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Several years ago I read several of the books in the Executioner series by the late Don Pendleton, but I’d never had the chance to read the inaugural book until now. War Against the Mafia tells the story of Mack Bolan, a Vietnam War vet—a sniper with more than 95 confirmed kills to his credit—who is sent home on compassionate leave when his father kills his mother and sister (and seriously wounds his younger brother) before killing himself.

When Mack learns that Mafia loan sharks were what drove his father to such desperation, he vows to get revenge. What he starts, though, is an all-out, no-quarter war with the deadly organization.

While this first story doesn’t have the polish of the later books, it is still a riveting read, chocked full of raw emotion, graphic violence, and a few scenes of graphic sex. More importantly, however, is the voyage the reader is taken on inside the mind of a man who willingly decides to go down a path to his own eventual destruction in the never-ending battle of good versus evil.

Each of the books in this series can be read as standalones, books that established a new genre of action novels at the time of publication, but reading this volume helps to put the Executioner in proper perspective.

Like the others in the series, it’s one that once you start you won’t want to stop until the end. While I gladly give five stars to the subsequent books in the series, I give this one four stars – heck, folks, he was just getting started.