Burns Bannion #9: “Kill Me In Roppongi” by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson). In this final novel of the “Kill Me In …” series, Hedges sends ex-Stars & Stripes newspaperman, Addis Racquets to him for help. Racquets now runs his own small paper, and has received a death threat along with an ad. He hires Bannion to answer the ad, and find out what’s going on. Although Inspector Izawa and Hedges are mentioned, they have no active part in this story. It involves the IOON (International Order of Nationalists) Nazi organization. They are running an illegal abortion scheme in Japan, bringing women from all over the world that need an abortion, then blackmailing them to work as their sex spies. Unfortunately, this was the final Burns Bannion novel. Not a great series, but definitely a fun one with sex and karate as the main theme. The series was published by Berkley in the U.S., but distribution in the Far East must have been poor, so Norman Thompson, who had contacts with the military and Stars & Stripes, had the series printed by a Japanese publisher under his ERLE BOOKS Logo. This enabled him to get his books on the racks in the PX system of military bases, where millions of G.I.s became familiar with them. I don’t know if Berkley was aware of this double-dealing or not. Sadly, the ERLE Editions seem to have been printed without editing or proofing, so there are many typos in them. If readers have a choice, buy the American editions published by Berkley instead.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Burns Bannion #8: “Kill Me In Yokosuka” by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson). This one is really far out. Hedges invites Bannion and Ezawa to a Geisha wingding, and it’s for the purpose of getting them involved in the current case. Something is going on that concerns the military installations around Tokyo. Bannion meets sexy Oyuki, a geisha dancer, and she stays with him throughout the case. The Chinese villain, Original Fu, who supposedly died in a previous story, is back, but he’s working for a mysterious person in the shadows. They plan on disrupting the Naval Base in Yokosuka, which will cause havoc within the 7th Fleet. Not much in the karate fights this time, but Bannion bungles his way to the finish. There is plenty of action, however. Ezawa goes undercover, using a disguise. A pit of scorpions, a gorilla – Bannion does use karate on the beast. He also swings through the trees, and does a Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan yell. Far out (lol). Lots of fun.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Burns Bannion #7: "Kill Me On The Ginza" by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson). Hedges hired Bannion to find one of his "spooks" who has been investigating the smuggling of Koreans into Japan, but before he can even start, Inspector Ezawa shows up with the man's head. Now Hedges wants our fearless private investigator to find out who killed him. The case involves a strange cult of worshippers, and a rich foreigner involved in a photography studio for models and an S&M magazine. An elderly Japanese gentleman also hires him to discover the object the cult worship, and Bannion discovers the man has trained in ninjutsu (and may be a ninja). The usual broads and karate fights. Lots of fun.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Burns Bannion #6: “Kill Me In Atami” by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson). This one could have been a Bud & Lou comedy film. Bannion is hired by a wealthy widow, Mrs. Hikonami. She wants a renter removed from her estate. Legal action would take years, but she wants Bannion to see that he leaves early, even if it means a karate chop to back of the neck. But there’s more to the case, as he soon finds out. The widow’s husband was murdered by a karate blow to the back of the head, forcing the head into a sharp instrument, but everybody says it was a suicide. En route to the estate, Bannion picks up a ‘wooley booger’ girl (read the book to find out) who loves sex, but someone hangs him and pins a suicide note on his chest. Arriving at the mansion, he finds the widow’s sister, Fujiwara, and Mrs. Hikonami’s daughter, Asako. The three women are exact images of each other. Over the next three nights, the power goes off, and one of them enters his room to seduce him, but he never knows which one. Except that it isn’t the 300-pound maid, who also knows karate. There are hidden passages behind a bookcase, tunnels beneath the mansion, and monsters lurking about the tunnels and an abandoned sanitarium nearby. More supposed suicides happen, men hanging in the tunnel, and Bannion’s wooley booger girl inside the sanitarium. This is one of my favorites in the series. Thought Hedges is mentioned, he isn’t in this story. Inspector Ezawa introduces Bannion to Mrs. Hikonami, and then we don’t see him any more. Oddly, this is the only Burns Bannion novel not reprinted in the ERLE Edition in Japan. It’s only available in the American Berkley 1962 printing. I might add at this point that the Berkley editions were well edited, while the Japanese ERLE editions were not.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Burns Bannion #5: “Kill Me In Yoshiwara” by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson). When Mrs. Oaba responds to Bannion’s newspaper add for a private detective, he heads for the village of Katsu where he learns the lady wants him to find her older daughter, Kazuko, who is missing. However, stopping at a Japanese castle he thinks is abandoned, he finds the body of a girl murdered by a karate blow. He doesn’t tell Mrs. Oaba that he has already found her daughter. Now, trying to figure how to let the woman know Kazuko is dead, the local police find the body and suspect – Burns Bannion of the deed. Here we have another nice tale of karate action, and our hero barely survives in one piece, but in the end is left on the mat with the younger daughter, Hiroka. My copy is the ERLE edition, published in Japan, and it is filled with typos. Hedges is still Johnny-on-the-spot, and we still don’t know exactly what he is, but probably CIA. Inspector Ezawa appears to be a little more lenient with P.I. Burns Bannion staying in Japan under false pretenses.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Burns Bannion #4: “Kill Me In Shinjuku” by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson). Bannion’s old newspaper (AKA CIA) buddy, Hedges sends him to help an Australian stripper playing the Shinjuku clubs. From Ginger Peaches, he hears a strange story about a street peddler and missing time (along with an important love letter). From the girl’s apartment, he’s sapped over the head and dropped from the top of a fence, and in a daze, hears a voice inform him that he will soon die. Next he visits his karate instructor and runs into Inspector Ezawa, who tells him a similar story about the wife of a diplomat meeting a strange street seller. There’s one cute chapter where Bannion enters a supposedly haunted abandoned Army firing range, then crawls through a small tunnel below ground in a death trap. The case actually stems from a previous story, and his killing of a gang lord in that adventure. This one has a nice twist at the end, however. Very good.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Burns Bannion #3: “Kill Me In Yokohama” by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson). Running out of money, Bannion is becoming desperate and places an ad in the paper, “Will Do Anything For Money.” He gets three letters, one from a kid wanting a dog (and Bannion thinks he just might find one for him), one from Inspector Ezawa, saying he is being watched. But the third is from Mariko Melson, a super Japanese model, who is half French, and a knock out. She feels her neighbor is turning her brother into a hoodlum bent on world domination or destruction, and wants Bannion to see that he is removed from Japan. Naturally, amateur private detective Burns Bannion jumps feet first into the case, and a whole lot of trouble! Another great karate action, and our hero barely comes out alive. Lots of fun.