IAN MACKINTOSH – A Drug Called Power.

Robert Hale; UK, hardcover, 1968.

IAN MACKINTOSH A Drug Called Power

   Author and TV writer-producer Ian Mackintosh has come up three time already on this blog. The first instance was in a posting of some addenda to the Revised Crime Fiction IV, in which some biographical data was given for the author, and adding the setting of a novelization he did of the British TV show The Sandbaggers.

   This was followed by an email posting from Tise Vahimagi that included some data about some of the other TV shows Mackintosh was involved with. A few days later a post from British mystery bookseller Jamie Sturgeon appeared; in this the spelling of the author’s last name was discussed and possibly even settled.

   I don’t have the autographed copy of A Drug Called Power that was illustrated in that latter post. What I have is a much less valuable one formerly belonging to a library somewhere in the UK. (Well, to be precise, it’s the City of London Police Library, whatever that might mean.)

   And I wish I could recommend it to you, but I can’t. Not at least without a whole lot of reservations, that is, and eventually I will tell you about some of them. It’s the second in a series of three high-intensity action thrillers involving Tim Blackgrove, apparently a private eye in the first of his adventures (see below), but that seems to have had a bad ending (involving a woman he loved), and he’s turned into anti-narcotics vigilante by the time the second one has begun.

   The books:    [Data taken from the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin.]


       A Slaying in September (n.) Hale 1967 [Antwerp, Belgium]
       A Drug Called Power (n.) Hale 1968 [with Sue Dell; Scotland]
       The Brave Cannot Yield (n.) Hale 1970 [with Sue Dell; Scotland]

   Let me explain about Sue Dell, if I may (and if I can). As I said above, Blackgrove is a single-minded and totally ruthless vigilante of the Donald Pendleton–Marc “The Executioner” Bolan type, about 30, and in the prologue he meets a 19-year-old girl, Sue Dell, whom he makes his partner. Their relationship is chaste, for all I could tell, but (and I’ll get back to this) extremely violent (not toward each other, I hasten to add).

   As partners in their two-person anti-crime squad, they are extremely successful, calling themselves the Trans-World Independent Narcotics Squad (T.W.I.N.S.). Maybe that tells you something about the general level the book’s written on already.

   Although things are cheerfully working out very well on their own, when MI5 comes calling, they accept the employment, the challenge, and the change to save not only England but the world from a new Mastermind of Crime, complete with deadly poisons with which to blackmail the capitals of Europe into submission, one by one.

   That’s about all of the plot I need to tell you, I suppose, and the story is told in a Gosh Wow (i.e., semi-corny) sort of way that television shows used be conducted back in the 1960s and 70, except for one thing: the level of violence, and the lack of compunction in killing and maiming for life, left and right. This is both the Good Guys and the Bad Guys, mind you, including the 19-year-old, five foot two and beautiful Sue Dell.

   Take for example, the events at and around page 100, and judge for yourself. The wife of an opposing drug dealer is dowsed with oil, set on fire with a flame-thrower, and they watch as her body curls up in a blackened crisp. The drug dealer himself? Dumped into a vat of acid, with his head propped up to made sure it stays above the …

   Forget it. That’s enough, even though the book does improve from here on in. (I skimmed a lot, just so that I could tell you this, assuming that like me, you’d want to know.) What I don’t know is what kind of person this book was written for, but it isn’t me, nor was it ever.

   Nor is there any warning on the jacket about the sadistic sort of violence-oriented pornography that awaits the unwary reader inside. When you buy an Executioner novel, for example, you know exactly what you’re paying for.

   So be forewarned, that’s all I say. After an investment of 100 pages, there was enough of interest for me to finish A Drug Called Power, albeit very quickly, and the two starring characters were intriguing enough that reading the next one in the series is not entirely out of the question, just to see what happens to them, should one turn up. Don’t take even this small glimmer of positivity as a recommendation, though. I’d rather not take the responsibility.


   Other crime fiction by IAN MACKINTOSH, excluding the TV tie-in’s covered in earlier posts:

      Count Not the Cost (n.) Hale 1968 [England; Hong Kong]


      The Man from Destiny (n.) Hale 1969 [Hong Kong]


   PS. Thanks to Jamie Sturgeon for providing the cover images.

[UPDATE] 02-24-09.   One last cover image, this one sent me once again by Jamie Sturgeon. Other than the TV novelizations, this constitutes a complete cover gallery of Ian Mackintosh’s crime novels, five in all.