Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Toyoko Doll -- John McPartland

John McPartland was one of those solid Gold Medal writers who broke out with a big hardcover best-seller that became a hit movie, No Down Payment.  And then he died at age 47.  I wrote a little about that movie in this post.  When I wrote that post, the movie wasn't available anywhere, but now you can watch it on YouTube, as I've done recently.

But I digress.  I'm here to write about Tokyo Doll, half of a fine new double from Stark House.  Unfortunately the ARC doesn't have a copy of the Steve Lewis introduction to the volume, but I'm sure it'll be excellent, as with everything Steve writes.  

The guy on the cover looks a bit like Robert Mitchum, but he represents the protagonist of Big Red's Daughter, not that the narrator of Toyko Doll couldn't look like Mitchum.  He's Mate Buchanan, big and tough, a WWII and Korea vet who's been court martialed for not following orders (he was going to take his men into a almost certain-death situation, though he does himself).  Kicked out of the army, he's living in San Francisco when an official with one of those secret government agencies comes to  him with a job offer: Go to Tokyo and hook up with a woman from his past, a woman whose father had concocted a virus that will save the world.  Don't worry about how preposterous this virus is.  It's just the MacGuffin to get the story going and to keep it racing along.

Once in Tokyo, Buchanan meets the doll of the title, a singer named Sandra Tann, and in the old pulp tradition, they immediately fall in love.  There are plenty obstacles in their way, including the fact that Buchanan has orders to marry the other woman if that's what it takes to get to her father.  Soon enough, Buchanan's a wanted man both by the U.S. Army and the Tokyo underworld.  This results in some chasing and pursuing, and a couple of really good fight scenes.  And if all that's not enough, Buchanan's not at all sure he can trust Tann, who might also be after the virus, maybe for The Reds (a common bugaboo in the '50s when the book was published).

Tokyo Doll is fast and furious, well written, and fun to read.  Great local color, and it seems clear that McPartland had spent some time in Tokyo.  This Stark House double is well worth your time if you like the old  Gold Medals.  And who doesn't?

10 comments:

Peter Brandvold said...

I've read both of these but I'm going to get this Stark House edition and read them both again. Most everything I've read by McPartland was fast and furious. Didn't I read somewhere that he had two separate families--meaning kids with two different women? I guess the guy got a round. I'm not judging, my mind. Could happen to the best of us.

Peter Brandvold said...

I'm not judging, mind you.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I haven't read him, but maybe I need to. I have seen No Down Payment, however and remember liking it, though it was a long time ago.

Bill Crider said...

Pete, he did. Five kids in one of them.

Alice Chang said...

Hence a certain expertise in "jugging" relationships that comes out in the fiction?

Sets a novel in Tokyo, then has his protagonist get involved with two American women? Seems like a missed opportunity, but perhaps it works better than having one of the women be Japanese or even Korean (given the wars and the fraught relation between those nations) would've. Seems odd, though.

Todd Mason said...

Oh. I'm still using Alice's login as I was editing something for her. Todd Mason

Todd Mason said...

Or is the Other Woman From His Past a Japanese citizen?

Bill Crider said...

She's Japanese.

Todd Mason said...

Makes a little more sense. Somehow, I was letting the cover for the other novel encourage wild surmise.

George said...

STARK HOUSE is doing all of us a Big Favor by reprinting these Gold Medal novels.