A former US Army soldier and journalist, the late John M. Flynn was a prolific American author of crime and espionage novels, occasionally contributing Westerns using the house name Jack Slade. In a career spanning from the late fifties to the late seventies, he penned somewhere in the region of thirty novels, mostly for Ace Books, Avon Publications, Leisure Books, and Belmont Tow
He started out as a crime reporter for the Portland Express, also contributing to the San Jose Mercury and other California papers. He is perhaps best-known for his five satisfying adventure novels featuring the distinctive character McHugh, a rough, hard-drinking, two-fisted, Irish-American bar owner and secret agent.
McHugh aside, Flynn’s other notable success was his standalone novel The Action Man, a crime caper published by Avon in 1961 and adapted into the French film Le soleil des voyous (The sun of thugs), directed by Jean Delannoy in 1967. It’s a tense, neatly plotted, and ultimately thrilling tale about a calculating businessman and his elaborate plan to make off with over two million dollars of Army payroll from a bank in northern California. The central character, Denton Farr, who is cut from the same cloth as McHugh, is a smart, bold, tough-talking hard case with an eye for the ladies and a talent for getting what he wants. He is also a successful criminal with close ties to the Eastern crime syndicate.
Terror Tournament, Flynn’s third novel, was first published as a hardback by Mystery House in 1959 and reprinted in paperback by Ace Books as an Ace Double. Like most of Flynn’s novels, it’s a gritty, action-packed drama, heavy on suspense and with a tough lead character on the hunt for a significant amount of money.
This welcome double novel from Stark House also includes, as an introduction, an amusing, revealing, and utterly riveting article on Flynn by his friend, Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Bill Pronzini, which first appeared in Mystery Scene magazine. It’s the perfect companion piece to this pair of scintillating gems pulled from Flynn’s treasure trove of forgotten novels.
My review of The Action Man and Terror Tournament is featured today in the Lancashire Post and syndicated to 20 newspapers in the UK. The full review can be found at the web link below and elsewhere: