FORGOTTEN BOOKS: DREAMSICLE!
W. L. RIPLEY
W. L. Ripley’s Wyatt Storme is a character who appears to have fallen into the abyss between Robert B. Parker’s Spenser and Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole after rebounding off John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee. Falling into the same abyss is Storme’s psychotic sidekick, Chick Easton – who could just as easily be named Hawk or Joe Pike.
All of this is to say this series from the early ‘90s is very derivative, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily second rate. In fact, I enjoyed all three books featuring tough guy Wyatt Storme, who divides his time between Colorado and Paradise, Missouri, because it features many of the same wise-cracking, mucho-thumping satisfactions found in the series author Ripley emulates.
Wyatt Storme quit the NFL at the peak of his game, because the continuous attention of the fans left him no private life. Wyatt, a fugitive from society's fast lane, is vacationing in Paradise County, Missouri, amid the beautiful Ozark Mountains, when he stumbles into a drug ring - one in which powerful local residents are implicated. It becomes clear that plans are under way to make a new extremely addictive narcotic, "dreamsicle," and somebody in Paradise County is hatching the plans.
Storme, when curiosity gets the best of him, finds himself in the center of the action along with an ad-hoc partner, the puzzling former Vietnam hero Chick Easton. More perceptive than the local police, courageous (and foolhardy) enough to stand up to an assortment of hardened underworld criminals, Wyatt and Chick strike into dangerous territory searching for the heart of the trouble.
Copies of the Strome novels can still be easily found and picked up inexpensively. If this sounds like your kind of thing, then they are worth checking out.
Ripley started a new series a couple of years ago featuring similarly themed character Cole Springer, who brings the additional trappings of Vegas gambling and con games to the table. Both books in this new series, Springer’s Gambit and Pressing The Bet are also worth tracking down.
WYATT STORME NOVELS
STORME FRONT (1994)
ELECTRIC COUNTRY ROULETTE (1996)