The hero is one Mack Bolan – sometimes know as the Executioner.
Not to be confused with Marc Bolan obviously. "You’re not really going out in public in those shoes are you Marc?"
Mack Bolan is the creation of Don Pendleton – and if online sources are to be believe he’s appeared in 600 novels. Pendleton sold the rights somewhere along the line, and a crew of lesser scribes evidently took over.
Mack Bolan gets around: Cambodia, Soho, Beirut, and does a lot of killing with a very big gun. To be fair most of the really violent action of Hollywood Hell takes place in Topanga and Pasadena, and the writer (who isn’t named, though somebody called Mike Newton is given “special thanks” on the copyright page) doesn’t put a whole lot of effort into giving a sense of place, but there is one strangely evocative description – of walking in Hollywood – almost certainly on Hollywood Boulevard:
“The hunter (that would be Bolan) parked his rental car upwind, deciding to walk. He noted there seemed to be no continuity among the people he encountered in this neighborhood of sleazy bars and businesses. Along the short block’s walk he met a human of every race and gender.
“Men in stylish business suits looked sheepish or defensive as they caught his eye: the punks, decked out in leather with their spiky hair dyed every color of the rainbow, tended toward defiance seasoned with a dash of apathy. A macho body-builder type paraded past him, hand in hand with his diminutive bearded lover.
“Across the street a stoned guitarist played for the amusement of some black youths dressed in street-gang colors, and a wino occupied the vacant doorway next to his objective, grumbling fitfully in alcoholic slumber.”
All of which sounds vaguely appealing, like a cultural and ethnic rainbow coalition, where everybody’s learned to just get along, which might be the very reason so many waifs and strays end up on Hollywood Boulevard, although Mack Bolan takes a different view.
I walk along Hollywood Boulevard all the time and of course I see waifs and strays, and sometimes their interactions with cops, which in general seem to be a lot less antagonistic than you might imagine. I remember seeing one tough-looking kid, maybe in his late teens, being asked by a cop, “How long you been out here?”
The kid replied, “Been out this time for ten days. Been on the street since I was 12.”
In Hollywood just about everybody knows how to deliver a good line.
And because I’m one of those scavengers who picks up unconsidered trifles when he walks the street, I found this:
It’s a piece of rather expensive cardboard packaging, dense with layers of writing by different hands, not all the words legible, some of it a birthday greeting to Ringo Starr, some a description of street life of Hollywood waifs and strays. The best I can make out says: - “I want my best Hollywood house now - my safe place 2 sleep” – “How many guys have my phones” – “Pinup poster girl & everyone keeps stealing my stuff” – there’s also something I can’t quite make out about sleeping outside and finding the sprinklers suddenly turned on.
It’s better written, more moving, more eloquent than anything to be found in Hollywood Hell.