FRANKLIN BANDY – The Blackstock Affair. Charter, paperback original, 1980.

FRANKLIN BANDY The Blackstock Affair

   It was about a year ago that I wrote a review of a book entitled Deceit and Deadly Lies, which was the first adventure of Kevin MacInnes, the famous polygraph expert known as the Lie King. It cost $2.25, and my advice, quoted on the back cover of this, the second adventure, was that it was worth the money. Not only that, but it won an Edgar too.

   This one will set you back an additional 25 cents. It’s worth the total of twenty bits, but gee, I remember when 25 cents was itself the going rate for a paperback. (And everybody knew so well that that’s what it was that it wasn’t even printed on the front cover.)

   Enough of that. The vicissitudes of being a series hero being what they are, in between books MacInnes has lost his wife Vanessa, whom he won only in the final pages of the last adventure, to the vindictive followers of the man he defeated. Don’t feel too sorry for Maclnnes, though. He has a new body-guard-assistant to work for him this time around, a former private detective named Amanda Button. In this long, sprawling novel they share some strange adventures together, and all in all, I rather hope Amanda survives until the next book.

   Scene: Blackstock, Ohio. The birthrate is dropping without explanation. Not being a medical man, Maclnnes ignores all such aspects of the problem, and he aims in instead on what is probably a Commie plot. Or an attack from outer space. Or the machinations of an evil scientist. Or, Ralph Nader would like this one, capitalistic commercial overkill?

   Bandy’s story-telling style consists of interspersing intelligent commentary on world conditions with tough “masculine” writing: flat declarative sentences and cliff-hanger chapter endings. I think he feels obliged to include all the sex and violence that he does as doing what “modern” readers want, but there’s such a nervous edge to it, that it seems to me at least that he’s slightly embarrassed by it.

   I’m only guessing, of course. Certainly no one should ever knock success. And if action-filled adventure spiced with a modicum of brainwork behind it ever appeals to you, don’t miss this one.

Rating: A minus.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
       Vol. 4, No. 4, July-August 1980 (slightly revised).

[UPDATE] 05-27-13.   As this old review says, this was the second recorded adventure of Kevin MacInnes. What the review didn’t say, and couldn’t, is that it was also the last. Bandy wrote two other paperback originals, both stand-alones, in this same time period (1978-80). Preceding these four were three novels starring NYC PI Berkeley Barnes and his “Archie,” Larry Howe, which came out in hardcover between 1971 and 1973, all three under the pen name of Eugene Franklin.