Robert Miall (John Burke) - Kill Jason King! (Pan, 1972)
Blurb: The security guard was cold. Cold as the Vienna morgue where he lay. Arlene, blonde and sultry, had been kidnapped. A fortune in platinum filled the car boot. The latest haul in a series of daring robberies that stretched from Munich to Barcelona. And Jason King found himself Europe's number one police suspect. The only suspect .......
It is THE PERMISSIVE SOCIETY. Everybody's "doing it" and none more vigorously than playboy, adventurer and best-selling crime novelist, Jason King and his conveyor belt of red hot dolly birds. It is all right for some. Meanwhile, upper class career criminals Edward Matherson and Charles Farrenden have hit comparative hard times. "As devotees of gracious living they mournfully watched their wine cellar empty, the Mercedes dwindle to a mini, and their valuable collection of leather-bound pornographic classic give way to one shelf of Jason King paperbacks."
Then Edward has a brainwave.
Suppose they were to perpetrate a series of audacious robberies by copying the plots from King's forty-six meticulously researched 'Mark Caine' novels (sample titles: The Lady Can Purr, Rubies Are Blue, The Red Danube, Index Finger Left Hand, and People who Live In Glasshouses Shouldn't, aka "the kinky one about the Channel Islands")? Charles is initially sceptical, but the successful burglary of a Berkshire Mansion launches the villainous toff's on a Caine-inspired Europe-wide crime spree. It's all rather jolly until, in the course of a raid on a Viennese warehouse, Matheson shoots dead a nightwatchman. To extricate themselves from a tight spot, the thieves plant two platinum bars in the boot of King's Audi and tip off the police. As Jason arrives in the hotel car park with squeeze-of-the-moment Arlene Berenheim, Matherson sneakily coshes him from behind and abducts the girl.
King wakes up in a cell but, with no hard evidence against him, Chief Inspector Poron reluctantly releases him under instruction to find the missing girl. But Arlene is the role model for black belt sex bomb 'Selene Claire' in Caine adventure From China - Yours Sincerely and eminently capable of rescuing herself as big softy Edward's bruises attest.
Burke now merges the plot of As Easy As A.B.C. with that of another from the TV series, A Red, Red Rose Forever, to bolster the page count. After a crazy mix-up aboard a Jumbo Jet, King is briefly mistaken for a hired assassin and roped into a plot to assassinate Dr. Emile D'Arblay, director of numbered accounts in the Geneva and Zurich Stadtbank, and steal the manuscript known as The Hitler Testament, the Holy Grail of former Nazi's gone to ground in South America. King celebrates the satisfying outcome of this latest adventure with a marathon bedroom romp (off page) with Anne Somers, a dishy air hostess fresh from kidnapping, and then we're back with the terror toffs.
Matherson has developed a taste for this murder lark and his next target is ... Jason King! To cover his back, he leans on his reluctant, eminently squeamish colleague to perform the dirty deed and even the score. But first they need to find out what King has in store for the next Mark Caine story so they can replicate the crime before the book is published. To this end they recruit enigmatic bombshell Mirelle to inveigle herself into King's bed and learn all his secrets. "Jason's imagination, right now, was being monopolised by a beautiful girl who could provide at least three lurid chapters of a book he would never have the nerve to write."
Feel almost guilty for not enjoying this as much as I probably should have done. Our Jason is one cool cat for sure, the dolly birds are hot stuff and Burke looks to be enjoying himself, but the flimsy scripts hardly give him an abundance to work with. A reading experience so undemanding it makes The Son Of The Werewolf seem like White Chappell: Scarlet Tracings.
Hellfire Club flyer, circa 1993.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.