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Morgan Kane - Without Mercy

Morgan Kane - Without Mercy - Louis Masterson ”A ray of light was thrown out on to the platform and then the darkness was complete again. Kane’s eyes grew accustomed to the weak moonlight. There were three men round him. He could not see their faces. The iron edge of the barrier pressed into the small of his back and guns shone. A voice said: ‘First the gun hand, Kane!’
His right hand was lifted clear of his body and forced over the barrier. Oaths and curses flowed from Kane’s twisted lips. A hard ball of fear blocked his throat. The man in front of him lifted his arm. Kane felt the cold mouth of the barrel against his palm.
For heaven’s sake...he hadn’t thought of…!
The blow numbed Kane’s arm right up to the shoulder. For a moment he stood there--stiff as a post--his brain not accepting the fact that his right hand had a hole blown through it. Then the pain came.”

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Morgan Kane is a Texas Ranger who is addicted to the three muses of vice: whiskey, women, and gambling. He never met a whiskey he wouldn’t drink. He never met a woman that he didn’t want to seduce and gambling...well now... that is as necessary as breathing.

Kane killed a man by the name of Rex Duncan in St. Louis. Rex’s brother Troy flanked by two psychopathic gunmen decide to set a trap for Morgan. Any good trap needs honey and there is one honeypot that is more than willing to be bait. Rex’s girlfriend the luscious, the lovely, the tempestuous vixen Allison MacKay wants to make sure that Kane pays.

Duncan arranges a card game on the train that Kane is travelling on, knowing that Kane won’t be able to resist. Through an elaborate system Duncan cheats and cleans Kane out of his complete savings. Queue Allison, who happens to be riding in the same railcar as Kane. In need of consoling, he is soon handling her curves as deftly as an Italian count.

He gets to second base.

With another passenger in the room, asleep...but still gee whiz willikers.

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Impassioned by Allison, drunk on whiskey which he drank steadily during the poker game, and befuddled by his incredibly bad luck at cards his normal cautious nature has been compromised. The Duncan gang shoots him a couple of times and throws him off the train.

Classic mistake.

Kane is the kind of guy that you stand over and shoot him six times and then you reload and shoot him another six times. You don’t take any chances that you’ve left him alive.


Bond, James Bond. Kane, Morgan Kane

As he is convalescing Kane can’t quit thinking about Allison. The passion she has inspired has taken a dark turn.

”He could still feel her breasts against his hand and the excitement he had experienced when she had returned his kiss, willingly and shamelessly. Something had happened to him that night on the train. She had filled him with a desire that could only be extinguished in one way. He knew it--and hated her for it. For that desire could never be satisfied. He knew that for the rest of his life he would always feel that uneasiness in his body--he might never find peace again. He hated her even more with a burning, intense hatred--just as he had always hated ties or restrictions.”

He was burning alright like a forest fire south of the border if you know what I mean.

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Kjell Hallbing, a Norwegian, writing as Louis Masterson wrote 83 Morgan Kane books between 1966-1978 which sold twenty million copies worldwide. In 1969 he chucked his job as a bank employee and began writing full time. This book reminded me a bit of the Swedish writer Donald Bengtsson Hamilton who wrote the Matt Helm series that probably is as close as noir fiction has come to an American James Bond. There is going to be a Morgan Kane major motion picture. They are releasing the books in anticipation of the movie. WR Books was kind enough to send me a paperback review copy, since I’m a book Luddite and I don’t seem to ever get around to reading ebooks.

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The prolific Kjell Hallbing AKA Louis Masterson.

The prose of this series is similar to a piece of salt stained leather left out in the desert sun to bleach, crinkle, and bake into hardboiled sentences that will leave your tongue dry and your eyes squinting as you too will feel the heat of the sun and the cold emptiness of revenge.

3.5 STARS bumped to 4 because that is just the kind of guy I am.