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Saturday, December 1, 2018

THE MARK OF CAIN PART 2

THE MARK OF CAIN 
PART 2
Never underestimate the reach of a personal blog. The blog posts I write are purely for my own entertainment. I enjoy doing it. Occasionally, others with the same types of niche interests will comment, but mostly I’m posting into the dark void of the Internet, with no expectations of being read.

Occasionally, however, I get a pleasant surprise. When my prolific writer friend Gerald Hammond (best known for his Keith Calder gunsmith and hunting dogs mysteries) passed away, I was moved to write an appreciation of his work and our friendship—which went back to the days of written letters and international postage since Gerald lived in Scotland.

Two years after I posted the article, I received an email from a young woman living in Australia. Gerald Hammond was her grandfather. She knew virtually nothing about him as she had immigrated to Australia with her parents when she was a small child. Consequently, she never had the opportunity to interact with him. 

Somehow, she came across my post with my profile of Gerald and why he was special to me. Reading it, she told me, brought her to tears. She had known virtually nothing about her grandfather, but now felt she had a renewed and strong connection to him.

Wow…That blog post certainly turned out to be worth writing.

A few years ago, I wrote about the Hardman private eye series written by Ralph Dennis. The series was a hidden gem, which all but the most hardcore hardboiled mystery fans had forgotten. My good friend Lee Goldberg (a terrific writer in his own right and big mystery genre fan) had never heard of the series before.

However, after reading my blog post extolling the virtues of the series, he decided to give the books a try. Lee loved them so much, he was inspired to start a whole publishing company in order to pursue the rights to the Hardman books and eventually republish them. His efforts resulted in the founding of Brash Books, who will be publishing the entire Hardman series starting this month.

Just another personal blog post working unexpected magic.

Recently, I wrote a fairly extensive post (CLICK HERE) about the twelve book men’s adventure paperback original series Saigon Commandos, and the series author Jonathan Cain (aka: Nicholas Cain).

I included a lot of information on the twenty other books Cain wrote for various series under various pseudonyms. To round out the article, I tracked down as much information as I could about Cain. This was difficult since he had a minimal virtual footprint with some obviously conflicting information. 

I even had trouble finding a photo of Cain, but eventually lifted one from an obscure article detailing Cain’s personal book collecting habits.

Interestingly, my research revealed Cain and I had a number of personal intersections, including some law enforcement connections and a shared editor.

I threw all of this good stuff into the article, which I figured was probably only of interest to me. However, I did share the article with members of the Men’s Adventure Paperbacks of the 70s and 80s group on Facebook—the only other individuals who might care enough about the subject to indulge me. The article was well received and generated a certain amount of comments and praise for the Saigon Commandos series. I was gratified by the response, but figured (as usual) that would be the end of any minimal impact the article might have.

I was wrong. A week later I received an email from Cain himself, who had somehow found and read the post I wrote about him.

Paul…Your recent article earlier this month, (Mark of Cain), was a wonderful compilation of my efforts as a paperback writer back in the 80's. I didn't think anyone cared, after all these years, and it actually brought a tear to my eye recalling all those words typed (and the 31 years I spent in the City of Angels before "retiring" to Red Rock Country). And thank you for your service to the LAPD—an agency that has always held a soft spot in my heart...Nicholas Cain

Well, that was pretty cool. I wrote back, and we found we shared more common ground than either of us expected. Since then we have exchanged a number of emails, excerpts of which I’ve included below with Nick’s permission...

The attached publicity photo is quite old—I used it while seeking new writing gigs back in the mid-80's, trying to sell a couple series concepts that never went anywhere—even three screenplays my agent at the time was unable to sell. It was because they were too heavily Vietnam-themed, I believe was her reasoning at the time…

Personally, I think the publicity shot (featured at the top of this post) is major cool with its quintessential ‘80s vibe…

I'm attaching a slightly more recent photo: one where I am posing with Charlie Beck the day after he was sworn in as LAPD's new Top Cop on December 7, 2009—wow, that's over nine years ago, yet seems like...okay, it does seem like nine years ago…

Charley Beck was my police academy classmate and has been a long time friend. Because of alphabetical organization, Charlie and I appear next to each other in every photo of us going through the rigors of recruit training...

I just spent the last few hours perusing the Men's Adventure Paperbacks Facebook page—incredible! I had no idea there was such a fantastic group of fellow writers and fans. It blows my mind that copies of Saigon Commandos #1 are selling for upwards of $100 on eBay! I have no idea who would pay that amount—it would definitely have to be a "die-hard" fan, I suppose...

Always nice to realize there is still interest in the work we have done…

Lynx Books, which was publishing my Little Saigon series, went bankrupt after #4 came out. I've been thinking about self-publishing a signed, limited edition, (perhaps 1,000 hardcovers) combining Books #5 and 6 into one volume. The original manuscripts were delivered to Lynx. They were paid for, but never published. I've tried to contact Jeffrey Weiss (the publisher at the time) to sort out the legal/copyright issues, but without success, so the project has somewhat stalled. However, I would really like to see the books released before I'm planted six feet under…

I have, of course, encouraged him to keep pursuing getting the last two books in the series into print…

I wanted to (apologize and) let you know that I absolutely CRINGED when I saw the cover artwork for the "Little Saigon" books.  The editor asked me for suggestions, and I went so far as to send them one of the hard-to-get (at that time) Motor Officer patches with the Red Cross in the center, but they thought that was "too boring," and came up with the ridiculous yellow patch they ended up using despite my repeated protests

Battles over covers, titles, and opening lines have been fought (and often lost) by most of us who play in the writing sandbox at one time or another…

After I started ghostwriting some of the Able Team books for [editor] Feroze Mohammed over at Gold Eagle, I began losing my motivation—especially since I was unable to break into the mainstream of hardcovers and couldn't sell my screenplays to Hollyweird. At the time, I missed working the street, so went back on the beat, but as a private investigator in California around 1989. I was sending fraud referrals to the Dept. of Insurance and was eventually talked into coming on board as a state investigator. I worked there and a couple other state agencies for the next 14 years, eventually making Deputy Commissioner at the D.R.E.'s Enforcement Division.

After being assigned to the L.A. District Attorney's Real Estate Fraud Task Force, (circa 2006-2014), I found myself working many late nights at the Cal-BRE Squad Room in downtown Los Angeles at 4th & Broadway—even exchanging a couple midnight e-mails with Charlie Beck after he made Chief. For an old Saigon Commando, that was quite a treat. I know some street coppers don't care much for him, but Charlie will always be one of my heroes.

I've always enjoyed reading about how author Will Murray resurrected the Doc Savage series, spent time with Lester Dent's archives, and spent thousands of hours researching the Man of Bronze." I’ve always harbored this secret hope that someday—albeit probably after I was long dead and buried—some dedicated archivist would target Saigon Commandos or War Dogs or Little Saigon in much the same way. It almost feels as if, with your article, you somehow managed to keep the memory of my old, pulp paperbacks alive—and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart...

Was my blog post on Saigon Commandos worth writing? Do I really need to ask? There should be no doubt, as it has led to a new friendship (you can never have enough of those) and a lost member of our tribe returning to the fold…

Saturday, November 10, 2018

THE WORDSLINGER TRAILS—RALPH COMPTON

 
THE WORDSLINGER TRAILS
RIDING TALL
RALPH COMPTON
(April 11, 1934 – September 16, 1998)
Not many writers stand six-foot-eight-inches tall without their boots. Neither have many written twenty-three books in eight years, with several selling over a million copies and hitting the USA Today Best-Seller List. The only wordslinger to hit the mark in both classifications is Western reader’s favorite, Ralph Compton.
Wearing his boots and his cowboy hat, the late Compton’s wiry frame rose head and shoulders above the crowd whenever he went. His most amazing accomplishment, however, was not growing tall, but his prolific telling of Western tall tales. At fifty-six-years-old, having little prior writing experience, he sat down and began the opening chapter of his first his first Western—The Goodnight Trail. In the next eight years, he wrote twenty-two more Westerns before cancer took him home at age sixty-four. 
His canon of work became so popular, his publisher (Signet) used his legacy to build the Ralph Compton Brand. There have since been eight-two Westerns—authored by some of the best writers in the genre—published under the Ralph Compton banner. 
On US 411, near Odenville, Alabama, drivers pass a sign claiming Home of Ralph Compton. It denotes the beginning of a six mile trek through the woods to the log cabin with the dirt floor where Compton was born. In his autobiography, Compton stated, “You walked three miles along the Seaboard Railroad track, climbed a cut bank and trudged another three miles through the woods.” Born in 1937, at the tail end of the Depression, Compton’s family struggled with the harsh realities of poverty, “It seemed like we all started poor and went downhill from there.”
His mother had a sixth grade education; his father, fifth grade. “By the time FDR’s ‘team of mules, seed and fertilizer’ stake got to us, there were no mules.” His father settled for oxen instead of mules, along with seed and fertilizer. Inexperienced at best when it came to planting a crop, Compton said of his father, “In his best year, he made almost enough to repay what he owed the government.”
Compton graduated from St. Clair County High School in Odenville—a major accomplishment for a young boy in worn out clothes and rarely a full meal. Compton states, “In those days, welfare families were not looked on with favor. There were four of us, and we received the staggering sum of thirty-nine dollars a month. I owe my high school graduation to understanding teachers who provided odd jobs so I had the bare necessities.”
He points to his high school principal, Nancy Wilson (to whom he dedicated his first Western, The Goodnight Trail), for his love of reading and his ability to read with comprehension and retention. “Because I did read, she moved me ahead, encouraging me to read literature and history more advanced than my grade required. Before my graduation, I knew I wanted to write, although I wasn’t sure what."
Compton served in the Army during the Korean War. When he returned home, he was still unsure of his career direction. He joined forces with his brother, Bill, a skilled guitarist with a good voice. They formed a bluegrass group, and set out to play the local circuit of legion halls, armories, and schools. They played live on local radio stations, often racing from station to station to reach the widest audience possible. Compton recalled, “Most little stations provided time for free on Saturday afternoon, usually fifteen to thirty minutes for those enthusiastic enough—or dumb enough—to donate their talent for the exposure.” 
In 1960, Bill moved on to play with Country Boy Eddie (Gordon Edwards Burns), a singer, fiddler and guitarist who hosted the long-running Country Boy Eddie Show on Alabama’s WBRC-TV station. 
Ralph traveled to Nashville where he struggled as a songwriter. He co-founded The Rhinestone Rooster, a tabloid magazine, but quickly went broke. He borrowed money to keep the magazine afloat, but quickly went broke again. Not willing to give up, he turned The Rhinestone Rooster into a record label, but still did not find enough success to make the venture worthwhile.
Jobs as a radio announcer, a newspaper columnist, and other odd jobs followed. In the summer of 1988 (“When I was pretty well fed up with the music business...”), the then fifty-four-year-old Compton began writing a novel. He wrote what he knew, “...a Southern novel, a hard times tale of growing up during the depression.”
Bob Robertson, a literary agent who read the manuscript, felt Compton’s writing showed promise. He didn’t, however, believe he could sell the novel to a publisher as the market was saturated with similar coming of age tales. Robertson was impressed enough with Compton’s writing to ask him a straightforward question...”Can you write a western?” Compton’s reply would ultimately change his life...“I don’t know. I like Westerns, but I’ve never written one. Let me try.”
Writing feverishly in every spare moment around his forty-hour a week nighttime work schedule, he completed a shoot-‘em-up 185 page manuscript. However, when he showed it to Robertson, the agent told him it was good, but had nothing to distinguish it from hundreds of other Westerns. The agent then offered more sage advice, “Write the kind of Western you like. And plan on writing at least three books, a minimum of three-hundred and fifty pages each.” This seemed overwhelming to Compton, who felt he’d already done the best he could. But Robertson continued to encourage him. The agent wanted a potential series, something with a hook that had not been done before.
Over the next several weeks Compton and Robertson kicked around ideas. They wanted a concept to embody all the exciting aspects of the Western, yet be unique in its presentation. From their collaboration, the concept of the Trail Drive series was created.
In January of 1990, after much sweat and research, Compton presented Robertson with a detailed synopsis of the first three books in the series—The Goodnight Trail, The Western Trail, and The Chisholm Trail. Robertson enthusiastically approved. Eight months later, Compton finished writing The Goodnight Trail, a rip-roaring western about the cattle drive which established a new route from Texas to Colorado.
Compton skillfully mixed fact with fiction as told the tale former Texas Rangers Benton McCaleb, Will Elliot, and Brazos Gifford to ride the trail alongside the real life Charles Goodnight. Compton’s characters were fresh and alive, jumping off the page with the historical background accuracy that would become his trademark.
The rights to The Goodnight Trail sold quickly, establishing a profitable long-term relationship with publishers St. Martin’s Press and Signet. It sold more than 1 million copies and was chosen by the Western Writers of America as a finalist for their Medicine Pipe Bearer Award—given to the best debut Western of the year.
Compton had read many of the great Western writers. While believing he had developed his own style, he claimed, “I shamelessly adopted one element, which I admired most in the work of Louis L’Amour. While there was romance in his books, there was no graphic, shocking sex.”
Of his writing, Compton also explained, “I depend solely on three elements: (1) a powerful sense of time and place, (2) a strong, fast-paced story, with interesting sub-plots, and (3) powerful, memorable characters.” His inspiration for the strong characters and style of storytelling he brought to his own work was the television series Gunsmoke.
In a 1993 issue of The Roundup, a publication of the Western Writers of America, Compton returned to the question that started it all...“Can you write a western? I could, and thank God, I did. My one regret is I lacked the confidence and courage to do it sooner.”
Ten more Westerns in the Trail Series followed. Books in the Sundown Rider series and the Border Empire series, along with a dozen other Westerns added to his prolific, fast paced output. Like a man knowing he is running out of time, Compton authored more than two dozen novels during the last decade of his life. Six Guns and Double Eagles, The California Trail, and The Shawnee Trail were all bestsellers in 1997.
Compton passed away from cancer in Nashville, Tennessee at age sixty-four. His journey from dirt floor beginnings to bestselling author is one of hope and perseverance, as inspiring as any of his Westerns. In his own words, “While the Old West lives only in the pages of history, I believe there’s something within each of us that longs for those days when there was yet another frontier to be conquered, another mountain to cross, and the thrill of the unknown. I believe the Old West will live forever—perhaps not in Hollywood, but in the hearts and minds of men and women who refuse to let it die.”
*In researching Compton I repeatedly found a reference to a 1973 novel, Festival of Spies, listed as part of his writing resume. Copies of Festival of Spies are so exceedingly scarce, I’ve yet to turn up a single copy to verify if it was indeed written by Compton, or is the work of another author of the same name—the resolution toward which I am leaning. Often times the Internet becomes so incestuous as one source cannibalizes another, perpetuating myths and mistakes. If anyone has a copy of Festival of Spies, or knows the story behind the title, please let me know.*

THE MARK OF CAIN

 
THE MARK OF CAIN
In a recent used bookstore foray, I picked up a copy of War Dogs #4 Body Count, an entry in a 1984 men’s adventure paperback original series set during the Vietnam war. Having been a collector of men’s adventure genre novels since my late teens, I was surprised I was unfamiliar with both the series and the author, Nik Uhernik. 

Back home some quick Internet research revealed Uhernik as a pseudonym for prolific men’s adventure writer Nicholas Cain. His first, and best remembered, series was the cult favorite Saigon Commandos, written as Jonathan Cain in the mid-80. The series ran for 12 titles all published by Zebra Books. One critic referred to the Saigon Commandos series as the Hill Street Blues of Vietnam.

*Saigon Commandos is a derogatory term invented by infantrymen during the Vietnam War as a reference to any soldier not on the front lines. However, the military policemen in Saigon, who found themselves up against snipers, rowdy sappers, and other hostile local criminals across the Saigon underworld, wore the title as a badge of honor—proud to be lawmen patrolling what they considered the toughest beat in the world.*

Cain used various other pseudonyms for a number of other paperback original men’s adventure series. These included the first 8 books in the Chopper—1 series as Jack Hawkins (a house name owned by Ivy Books); 3 books in Gold Eagle’s long-running Able Team series as Dick Stivers (a house name shared by many Gold Eagle authors); and 4 books in the War Dogs series (which prompted my line of research) as Nik Uhernik.

*One of Cain’s Saigon Commando characters is Private Nick Uhernik, the son of a diplomat who was born and raised in Saigon, and is very possibly the genesis for Cain’s Nik Uhernik pseudonym.* 

There were 6 books in Cain's urban cop series, Little Saigon, which were published under  his own name, Nicholas Cain. The series focused on serious crimes perpetuated in the biggest community of Vietnamese immigrants in America. Located in Orange County in Southern California, Little Saigon was once a quiet Los Angeles suburb dedicated to prosperity and hard work. However, over the years it became a war zone. Asian crime lords took to terrorizing legitimate businessman with threats of murder and extortion. Youth gangs in hot cars with Uzis cruise the Bolsa Strip dealing death and destruction in bloody turf disputes. Outgunned and outnumbered, regular cops are ineffectual. Enter police Lieutenant Luke Abel, a former MP from Old Saigon’s war torn streets. He knows the culture, the language, and the people. He also knows how to take the fight to the Vietnam-style guerilla crime gangs and win.

*Assigned to LAPD’s Anti-Terrorist Division for two years, I was seconded to a federal anti-terrorist task force. I spent a lot of time in Little Saigon on an investigation into Vietnamese organized crime factions terrorizing the community. The high ranking members of the syndicate all had ties to Operation Phoenix, a CIA sanctioned special-op in Vietnam that trained South Vietnamese special forces fighters to become assassins. They would then send them up-river alone with instructions to return with as many sets of North Vietnamese ears as they could cut off. When Saigon fell, the CIA managed to get a bunch of these guys out of Vietnam, but they failed to retrain them with skills useful in a civilian world. The remnants of Operation Phoenix were dumped in Montreal, Canada, where they quickly reverted to the deadly training they received in Vietnam and began to prey on their own community.  They eventually expanded their terror network into America and on to Little Saigon in California, which had a much sunnier climate than either Montreal or Vietnam.*    
 
Interestingly (possibly only from the perspective of a Men’s Adventure genre groupie) Cain also wrote the final installment of the Vietnam Ground Zero series using the pseudonym Robert Baxter. Vietnam Ground Zero was a long running series written by at least two other authors (Robert Charles Cornett and Kevin Randle) under the house name Eric Helm. Oddly, this last series entry written by Cain (as Baxter) was never published as a separate book. Its only appearance was in Heroes Book 1, a strange hybrid omnibus. Each of the 3 books in the Heroes omnibus series contained two or three novels from Gold Eagle’s various men’s adventure series. All of the included novels were previously published, except for Cain/Baxter’s Vietnam Ground Zero entry, Zebra Cube.

*For my fellow fanatics, the Vietnam Ground Zero series consisted of 27 books (28 if you count Cain/Baxter’s final entry) published between 1986 and 1990 by Gold Eagle. Between 1988 and 1990, 5 Super Vietnam Ground Zero books (longer versions of the original series books akin to the Super Bolan entries in Gold Eagle’s Executioner series) were published. Eric Helm was also the house name used for Scorpion Squad, a 4 book, Vietnam set, men’s adventure series published by Pinnacle between 1984 and 1985 (prior to the first Vietnam Ground Zero entry in 1986).*

With so many of Cain’s books set in the Vietnam War, I was interested to find out more about his background. Checking with the ever reliable Google (sarcasm noted), there appeared to be conflicting information regarding Cain’s real first name—was it Jonathan or Nicholas—since he had used both at various times.

Several entries indicated the Saigon Commandos Jonathan Cain was also the keyboardist for the classic rock band Journey—responsible for co-composing and playing the piano on Don't Stop Believin' as well as writing Journey’s hit ballad, Faithfully.

This did not seem right since no information on Journey’s Jonathan Cain listed any connection to the writing of at least 30 men’s adventure novels. Still, numerous links associated with Saigon Commandos author Jonathan Cain clicked through to information on Journey’s Jonathan Cain.

Even the legitimate, and usually reliable, Fantastic Fiction website’s bio entry for Saigon Commando author Jonathan Cain states: Jonathan Cain is a musician best known as the keyboardist and lyricist for the world-renowned band Journey. The listing even includes a photo of Journey’s Jonathan Cain...CLICK HERE

If it’s on the Internet, it must be true...Maybe not...

Futher checking quickly revealed Jonathan Cain as a pseudonym for Nicholas Cain—whose most likely connection to Journey was being barraged by their music on his car radio. The ever more valuable Paperback Warrior website gave a lukewarm review of Cain’s initial Little Saigon series entry, Abel’s War (a guy named Cain writing about a character named Able—let’s not go there), but does give a nod of acknowledgement to Cain stating: His volunteer service time in Vietnam (despite a high draft number) and as a Colorado state trooper is commendable...CLICK HERE

Cain apparently did his research for his Saigon Commandos series the hard way. In the latter years of the Vietnam War, he served as a US Army military policeman in Saigon. He later continued his Army career as an MP, which included tours of duty in Thailand and South Korea. He was honorably discharge in 1975 with the rank of sergeant. A civilian again, Cain returned to his hometown in Colorado. He then began a decade long law enforcement career. He started as a state trooper and later became a police officer in suburban Thornton, Colorado.

Ten years removed from the war, Cain wrote a non-fiction manuscript entitled Saigon Alley, which was based on his experiences in Vietnam. The manuscript was rejected by numerous publishers until it came to the attention of Zebra Books editor, Michael Seidman. Once an MP himself, Seidman offered Cain a four book contract if he would fictionalize the experiences in his manuscript and increase the sex and violence—which Zebra relied on as a selling point for their books. Cain agreed, turning Saigon Alley into the basis for his fictional Saigon Commandos novels.

*Zebra editor Michael Seidman was at Tor Books when he bought and purchased my first novel, Citadel Run, and contracted me for two more.*  

Starting publication in 1983, the Saigon Commandos grew to a series of 12 books and became a cult classic. More than a standard Vietnam action series, Cain’s first-hand knowledge helped him capture the essence of being in Saigon during the height of the war.

*At the end of Saigon Commandos #4: Cherry Boy Body Bag, Cain adds an unusual epilogue. His original contract from Zebra was for four books, so my guess is Cain had not received a contract for further books by the time he finished book four. Thinking this would be the last book in the series (it actually ran for eight more titles), Cain gave some closure to the books with an epilogue covering what would happen to the main characters in the future. As Cain did himself, the Saigon Commando MPs hired on with various law enforcement agencies back in the real world. One would commit suicide, another would be killed in the line of duty, and one would join the anti-Communist resistance in Cambodia. The various Vietnamese policemen (who were secondary characters in the books) would disappear into reeducation camps after the Communist victory. The leader of the Saigon Commandos, Ex-Green Beret Mark Stryker, however, remained in Saigon continuing to resist the Communist takeover of the city he loved.*

Being an MP in a city like Saigon demands far more guys and skills than those to than guard installations or direct traffic. Cain crafts an exotic city full of beautiful women and nonstop excitement as his collected stories cover all aspects of an MPs duties. In doing so, he skillfully brings to life a vibrant city inhabited with colorful and dangerous characters.

The final three books in the series, known as The Tet Trilogy, were the culmination of everything Cain had experienced as an MP and learned as a writer. The trilogy is among the best writing ever—fiction or non-fiction—about the Vietnam War.

*In his Tet trilogy, Cain uses actual transcripts of MP jeep-to-jeep radio transmissions, taken from official logs, records and archives, and incorporates them into the punchy dialogue.*   

In an unlikely turn of events for any men’s adventure series, Saigon Commandos #9: Mad Minute, was not only bought by Hollywood shlockmeister Roger Corman's Concorde Studios, but actually made into the 1988 straight to video film, Saigon Commandos. It was released as a feature film in foreign theaters as American Kommandos...CLICK HERE

Written by Thomas McKelvey Cleaver and directed by Clark Henderson The movie was filmed in the Phillipenes on a typically miserly Corman budget. Despite this, Saigon Commandos is a decent B-action movie for those of us who get a kick out of such low-budget fare. The film starred Richard Young, who would become far better known for his role in the opening sequence of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade a year later.

*Saigon Commandos is a surprisingly decent film, focusing not on the battles in the Vietnamese jungles, but on the corruption, heroin infested streets, hidden snipers, and hollow-point killing murders in Saigon. I was hooked from the opening scene of a Vietnamese band singing House of the Rising Sun in a strip club. I had low expectations for this film. However, it rose above those expectations—however slightly—and turned out to be entertaining. If you can manage to track down a copy, I recommend it for action B-movie fans.*

Cain’s writing career spanned over thirty book in various men’s adventure and military adventure paperback original series. While successful by many standards, and despite Hollywood interest leading to a produced feature film, Cain had slowly become a victim of the deadly curse of the mid-list writer—the main symptoms being the inability to breakout of the genre markets, small advances, and rarely, if ever, a royalty check large enough for a dirty weekend away.

In 1990, Cain moved on to another act in his career...literally moving on...to Los Angeles, where he became a private investigator. However, he did not give up his keyboard completely, writing two investigative manuals, Trick Questions (And Other Trade Secrets of an L.A. County P.I.) and So You Wanna Be A Private Eye, as supplements to the courses on investigation he taught at a local continuing education facility.

The Internet turns up little information concerning Cain’s personal life, and what can be found is most often repetitive. However, I did uncovered a strange book entitled Whatnots! Thirty Fascinating People Share Their Extraordinary Collections by Eileen Birin. In it, Cain has his own chapter talking about his book collecting habits and his love for Doc Savage. Along with Doc Savage, Cain claims Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, and Joseph Wambaugh as major influences on his writing. He collects all of their books among many others.

 
SAIGON COMMANDOS
Saigon Commandos (1983)
Code Zero Shots Fired (1984)
Dinky Dau Death (1984)
Cherry Boy Body Bag (1984)
Boonie-Rat Body Burning (1984)
Di Di Mau Or Die (1984)
Sac Mau, Victor Charlie (1985)
You Die, Du Ma! (1985)
Mad Minute (1985)
Torturers of Tet (1986)
Hollowpoint Hell (1986)
Suicide Squad (1986)

 
WAR DOGS
War Dogs (1984)
M-16 Jury (1985)
Busting Caps (1985)
Body Count (1986)

 
CHOPPER—1
Blood Trails (1986)
Tunnel Warriors (1987)
Jungle Sweep (1987)
Red River (1987)
Renegade Mias (1987)
Suicide Mission (1987)
Kill Zone (1987)
Death Brigade (1988)

 
ABLE TEAM
#43 Kill Orbit (1989)
#44 Night Heat (1989)
#46 Counterblow (1990)

VIETNAM GROUND ZERO
Zebra Cube (1992)


 
LITTLE SAIGON
Abel's War
Death for Sale
Off Limits
Rough Cut
Street Tricks
White Death