Lone Wolf: Night Raider
The book Night Raider is the first entry in the Lone Wolf series of “shoot the mobster” vigilante novels, written by famed sci-fi author Barry Malzberg under the pen name “Mike Barry”. The novels have the reputation of being…. something. I’ll put it that way. And that reputation is deserved.
What Malzberg himself admitted in an interview and essays was both that: A: The Lone Wolves were churned out quickly for the money to ride the “shoot the mobster” bandwagon and B: When he read an Executioner book prior to writing the Lone Wolf, he didn’t like it. You might think this had a negative effect on the series, and you would be right.
The book itself is the most generic 70s vigilante “be wronged, shoot the mobster” plot. I could guess everything if I’d only read War Against The Mafia. I could probably even guess everything just from secondhanded knowledge of the genre. The biggest, and arguably only divergence is how much of a lunatic the main character is (which is very much intended).
But it’s executed (no pun intended) in this almost avant-garde blocky stream-of-conciousness infodump style that joins Mike Lunnon-Wood’s lush “just keep going and talk it out, describe it out, but calmly” and Bob Forrest-Webb’s “I never met an exclamation point I didn’t like!” prose in the “weird style for a cheap thriller” club.
In many ways, the thoughts and controversies surrounding this series are better and more interesting than the books themselves. Night Raider itself, thanks to its origins, just has all the all the weaknesses of both artistic and commercial fiction. It has few of the strengths of either.