Many fans of the genre think that the men's action adventure books were essentially an American phenomenon -- not so. As mentioned, there was the seriously deranged SABAT series of book in the "Satansploitation" sub-genre.
You can buy the books for 99 cents on Amazon now; I've actually moved a few units and somebody wrote a glowing review of CHURCH OF THE ETERNAL SUCCUBUS recently.
I'm busy with some actual working-for-the-man type work, but I vow, with Sachet Saperstein as my witness -- this summer, massive promotional blitz for the PAC Squad, even if I have to outsource it to the Chinese or Indians, or whatever.
And I'll get some more PAC Squad stories posted including -- THE REVENANT, and the eagerly-awaited EGGBERT'S REVENGE.
Here's a little excerpt from DEADLY EQUINOX:
Sachet Saperstein pulled his Pacer up to the curb outside Jack Rayon’s apartment. He walked up to the door and knocked, ignoring a group of street toughs nearby who shouted epithets at him, casting aspersions on his manhood.
“JACK!” he yelled, knocking harder. “C’mon man, trouble! We need you!”
Rayon wasn’t “on call” so he hadn’t been answering his phone. He was, in fact, drunk out of his mind on Jack Daniel’s whiskey. He fumbled the many locks open and answered the door, unshaven,T-shirt covered with spilled whiskey and cigar ashes.
“Jesus, Jack! What the heck’s wrong with you?” lisped Saperstein, walking gingerly into the dank apartment.
“I had a rough night,” mumbled Jack, pouring another plastic cup full of whiskey.
“It certainly seems so! You …” Saperstein noticed the crystal skull on the night-stand near the bed, which had suddenly begun to glow with an ethereal light.
“Look out, Jack!” yelled Saperstein, rushing between Jack and the skull as a flowing bolt of ectoplasm erupted from it. Crackling and thrumming, the ethereal blob of energy enveloped Saperstein.
Jack rubbed his eyes blearily. “What the hell …? Did you do that, Saperstein?”
Sachet Saperstein opened his eyes and smiled. “My name isn’t Saperstein. It’s Klapper. Victor Earl Klapper.”
Jack stood unsteadily, staring at Saperstein through squinted, bloodshot eyes. “Who …? What? You’re Sachet, man, the queer-boy, the right brain of the PAC team …” Jack slurred, swigging his whiskey.
Sachet stared at Jack Rayon coldly, his arms crossed across his chest. Then he grinned hugely, his eyes hooded in the sharp shadows cast by the glare of the unshaded light bulb hanging from the ceiling by a frayed cord.
“Yes, that’s right. My name is … Sachet Saperstein, and I’m a fellow member of something called the ‘PUCK’ team group … homo, eh? Wanna buttfuck, Jack?”
Sachet laughed maliciously at the expression on Jack’s face. “Just kidding, Jack,” he said, taking the bottle from Rayon and gulping down a hearty swig as he sat astride the one rickety wooden chair in the room. “Now, tell me more about this PUCK team of yours, Jack. Omit nothing.”
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#11 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror > Occult
And I have given away over 700 copies now!
It would seem society is finally ready for government agents and psychics versus undead nuns. I guarantee you, this is the best novel about government agents versus undead nuns that you'll read this month.
I'm surprised this series hasn't found more of an enduring fame: I mean who WASN'T looking for stories about an exorcist and former SAS man who resigned from the clergy following a homosexual encounter, who battles necrophiles, devil worshippers, and zombies, is partially possessed by his evil brother, and, as if all that weren't enough, has a bit of a problem with chronic masturbation?
I suspect this one was a bit "WTF!!" even by the standards of the late seventies and the men's adventure and exploitation novels in general.
Satanism was hot in the late 70's and early 80's -- ROSEMARY'S BABY and THE EXORCIST being two prominent examples. There was even the "autobiography" MICHELLE REMEMBERS, in which a woman recounted childhood victimization at the hands of a Satanic cult in Victoria, British Colombia. The final episode has her suffering 81 straight days of abuse at the hands of a gang of 500 or so Satanists, and even Satan himself is on the way up, but fortunately Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the Archangel Gabriel appear to save the day.
(Let's just say that James Frey isn't the first guy to exaggerate a few details of his memoir.)
Even popular TV "news" programs of the day were full of stories of Satan worship --
So it was perhaps just a matter of time until somebody attempted to merge this with the equally popular men's adventure genre, typified by MACK BOLAN and THE DEATH MERCHANT and others.
The back story of Mark Sabat is dealt with in a few paragraphs in the prologue of the first book, THE GRAVEYARD VULTURES; as was often the case with these men's adventure novels. Had it been explained in detail, however, it sounds like Sabat has more than enough back-story to make up three or four novels:
"An upper-class upbringing, his future ensured by a legacy from wealthy parents, boyhood rebellion against this planned life and in a moment of weakness, a pleasurable teenage homosexual experience which had driven him into priesthood in the hope of cleansing his tortured mind. Then the discovery of his own powers, the realisation that night when he had exorcised the poltergeist, followed by the doubting of his own faith brought about by the hypocrisy of church leaders. Precipitated into yet another phase; army life that had found him in the SAS . . . and the sheer pleasure derived from killing an enemy -- legitimate murder, not once but many times. A new Sabat, so ruthless and yet still in possession of those
inexplicable powers; powers that had saved his life on many occasions until a dishonourable discharge had tumbled him back into civilian life."
After those musings, Sabat enters into mortal combat with his evil brother Quentin, and while he emerges victorious, a portion of Quentin's soul remains in Sabat's mind, waiting for an opportunity to take over.
And that's all before the first chapter!
The actual story of the novel has Sabat visiting a small-town church in England where a gang of devil-worshipping grave robbers have been committing some very unseemly acts. Sabat is quick to the offense, with his powers of excorcism and astral projection, and soon finds himself battling cult members, dark magicians and Voodoo zombies as well as his evil brother's dark soul.
Not that Sabat seems to need much pressure towards bizarre sociopathic and deviant behavior. As mentioned, he seems to get erections constantly and masturbates several times over the course of the book. He rapes the local prostitute, Miranda, not once but twice - although the first time is on the astral plane, or something, as sort of a hallucinatory battle with the forces of evil, so I'm not sure that counts.
And the second time, in her home, might not count either - she was in thrall of the local dark magician, and had attempted to stab Sabat after enticing him to masturbate in front of her. I think we can blame the victim, in this case if no other.
But at one point he runs over a guy during a vehicle pursuit and brushes it off as "fate." Clearly all this possession and astral projection and zombie reanimation stuff has given him a rather blurred notion of the importance of life and death.
Still, if I needed my local cemetery cleansed of a coven of Voodoo Satanist necrophiliac virgin-sacrificing left-hand path dark Magick practicioners, I'd probably want to call a guy like SABAT. You have to fight fire with fire, they say. I don't know but it certainly makes for some entertaining early 80's transgressive pulp exploitation stories.
The P.A.C. Squad discovers the vilest of evils blossoming in a place where the good have lost hope . . .
Jack Rayon only wants to visit his incarcerated brother, but someone has other ideas -- namely, the world's deadliest assassin.
This ice-cold killer is as supernaturally focused on his task as he is hampered in his abilities to communicate -- but he is guided by a brilliant partner, deadly and immature in equal measures, a hateful young super-genius in a frail body.
But combat, violence, and death are in Jack Rayon's blood -- and Sachet Saperstein is at his side.
Yet as the battle rages to an old abandoned church that turns out to be all too occupied, all of them are about to encounter something that they hate and fear even more than they hate and fear each other -- a terrifying evil as old as mankind, nursing an insatiable lust for vengeance. . .
This is #6 in the extraordinary adventures of the P.A.C Squad. Look for more adventures soon.
* * *
Here it is -- the book that ended my father's writing career.
I've entered all the books in the Amazon Prime Kindle thing, so you can borrow them for free -- sadly that means I can't make them available on Smashwords anymore. For now anyway. Right now I'm just trying to get the "word" out there.
(Hell, you want a copy in some other format? Just email me.)
Tucked in this manuscript is where I found the letter from father's publishers telling him that they would no longer be publishing any of his adventures. The word "depraved" is used.
I gotta say -- it's no worse than some shit that I read in other action adventure series from the 70's and early 80's, like SABAT and the CRIME MINISTER. More on that later.
Alas, it was the early 90's, and "politically correct" was the order of the day. There was no more room for autistic hitmen slugging it out with undead nuns. . .
The very high-concept story of Casca is the tale of Casca Rufio Longinius, a Roman legionnaire who has the (good? bad?) luck of being granted immortality when he stabs "the Jew" Jesus Christ with a spear during his crucifixion, apparently to relieve the prisoner's suffering.
Gradually, in the first book of the series, CASCA: THE ETERNAL MERCENARY, after being sentenced to work in a labor mine, Casca realizes that he will not age and that he can't be killed. The first book follows his fortunes and misfortunes through a couple hundred years, including slavery and a spell as gladiator.
The series follows Casca as he fights, fucks, and drinks his way through the ages, encountering famous figures and becoming involved with the various great societies and armies of history.
I've only read the first few books -- some sources say Barry Sadler himself wrote the first 29 books, others say that he farmed most of them out to ghost writers -- and they are written in a glibly professional and assured fashion, moving quickly, with just the right mix of gravitas and humor. Sadler displayes a nice ability to alternate gruesome violence with a good fart joke or a roll with a lusty tavern wench and some male bonding over beers. There's enough detail about not just the militaries and weapons of the times, but also about day-to-day life to show that Sadler was probably a genuine history buff.
Casca is a typical man's man, proficient with weapons as well as his huge cock; fortunately for an immortal, he's also good with languages. He is a soldier first and foremost though, and lives for the thrill of battle. (Just as well for the reader -- CASCA: THE ETERNAL GOATHERDER wouldn't be particularly compelling.) He's also not happy to stab or slice a particularly-hated opponent, when he can castrate them or jam an axe handle down their throat or whatever.
There is, as would probably be expected, quite a bit of casual sexism, racism, and homophobia in the novels, from big-bootied slave wenches to leering child-raping Nubians; but Casca's appreciation of other cultures is rather profound compared to many of his 70's and 80's men's adventure counterparts, who never met a foreigner they didn't shoot.
His second adventure, GOD OF DEATH, finds him leading a shipful of Vikings into Mexico among the Teotecs and Olmecs; he is impressed by their level of civilization and culture, although of course he uses his unique abilities to put a halt to that nasty human sacrifice business.
The author does make some general attempts to deal with the science and physics of Casca's condition; at the beginning of the first book, we witness Casca regenerating from being grievously wounded by an exploding shell in Vietnman. Casca fears lengthy imprisonment or being buried alive more than anything; it is explained that he can survive on the merest traces of moisture and eat practically anything to obtain nourishment.
The story of author Barry Sadler is damn near as bizarre as the story of Casca.
After his time as a combat medic in the U.S. Special Forces in the 1960's, where he was wounded with a feces-covered punji stick, Barry Sadler released several singles, including THE BALLAD OF THE GREEN BERETS and I WON'T BE HOME THIS CHRISTMAS, a love-letter to the folks at home written from the trenches of the jungle in Vietnam. He wrote and performed these himself, and though you may criticize the earnest sappiness and jingoism of his lyrics, you can't deny he has a rather pleasant singing voice.
Other highlights of his eventful life include shooting country singer Lee Emerson Bellamy in the head and killing him, and training Contra revolutionaries in South America. He himself was shot in the head under mysterious circumstances in Guatamala City in 1989; even that failed to kill him quickly, though he fell into a coma and died a year later.
Like his creation, Sadler was clearly a tough and interesting guy.
The parallels to something like the HIGHLANDER series or films and TV shows is obvious, though the first book was written several years before the first HIGHLANDER movie. This is extremely rich material for a series of books, and fans of men's adventure, history, and fantasy will all find something to enjoy. The series continues to the present under various other authors. If they can match the level of cocky, deadpan confidence that Sadler brings to the first few books of the series, it's a very worthy series for you to invest your time in.