RALPH DENNIS – Deadman’s Game. Berkley Z3003, paperback original; 1st printing, January 1976.

   Dennis was previously the author of Popular Library’s “Hardman” series, now apparently defunct. Although not so indicated, this could be the start of a new series. (Can the cover numbering system no longer be a selling point?)

   Kane is a cashiered government assassin in Deadman’s Game, with an impaired memory and a new identity, but with the same killer-for-hire instinct, and now working privately. There are those who think him a danger, and so his business puts him in the middle, both hunter and hunted.

   In this first adventure he avenges a brother’s death. He’s more on the side of the right than the law would say, but the amount of blood involved is disturbing.

   The first chapter or so I found overwritten, but Dennis writes free-flowing dialogue and action from that point on. Funny thing is, I don’t like what Kane does, but I do like him in his underlying innocence. No kidding.

Rating:   B minus.

— From Mystery*File #9, Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring 1976 (slightly revised).

[UPDATE] 02-13-11.   I don’t know if you know what an apa (amateur press association) is, or if you’d heard of DAPA-Em, the mystery apa that started up in 1974 or ’75, but I was a member, on and off, over the past 35 years.

   The final mailing, #216, arrived at my door this past week, a sad day indeed. For more on this, if you’d care to, including more details about how the apa worked, you could do no worse than to check out George Kelley’s post on the event over on his blog.

   Going through a stack of past mailings in my upstairs closet yesterday afternoon, I came across an envelope of zines that comprised mailing #11, which included a copy of Mystery*File #9, which I don’t believe I’ve seen in over 30 years, and this is one of the reviews that was in it.

   I hope you don’t mind the small amount of editing I did on the review. I didn’t change any of the ideas. Just a trifle bit of tinkering with the wording, nothing more.

   As for the book itself, if it was meant to be the first of a series, the series didn’t happen, for whatever reason. Poor sales, is my guess. There are only two copies offered for sale anywhere on the Internet, both on Amazon, and both for $16.65.

   And this means no cover image, unless you or someone else can supply one. I still have my copy, but alas, I don’t have access to it. (But I do know where it is.)

[UPDATE #2]   Later the same day.   Other members of DAPA-Em, along with one long-time former member (*), who have blogged about the last mailing are (listed alphabetically):

Bill Crider: http://billcrider.blogspot.com/2011/02/dapa-em-r-i-p.html

(*) Evan Lewis: http://davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com/2011/02/last-dapa-em.html

Bob Napier: http://capnbob.blogspot.com/2011/02/final-dapa-em.html

Richard Robinson: https://brokenbullhorn.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/an-ending-of-something-great/

   If I’ve missed others, let me know!