Friday 29 July 2022




The classic vigilante series is back... for the first time in almost fifty years.

In New York, Vietnam vet Ben Martin lost his business and his family to the Mafia ... and his soul to his one-man war of vengeance. Now he's in Chicago, resurrected after faking his death, to start a new, quiet life and regain his humanity. But in a cruel twist of fate, he faces horrific violence again, and is forced to become a killing machine to teach the most feared men in America the meaning of blind, gut-wrenching terror.

"It's violent when it needs to be, but there's also a great deal of emotional drama. Messmann slowly has unfortunate events consume Ben's life. Ben realizes that he has always wanted to kill again, to right the wrongs, and fight evil. But he also wants to live a normal existence that isn't smeared in blood. Truly fantastic." Paperback Warrior

Fire in the Streets is the second in a series of six Ben Martin books by author Jon Messmann. I enjoyed the first, The Revenger a month or so before this one. I liked this tale just as much.

The book follows a similar pattern to the first. Martin has an altercation with some Mafia hoods who are sniffing around his workplace, Alwyn Beef Products. He sends them off to hospital. The Outfit, led by local kingpin Nick Carboni takes umbrage, pushes back with more force and meets an immovable object that won't yield and in fact can push back harder, and a lot more effectively and violently. Ben Martin has mastered some useful skills during his time in Vietnam and some lessons you don't forget.

Events escalate, there are more casualties. Ben goes on the offensive, going after some of Carboni's men preemptively. He also gets involved with Valerie, the attractive and intelligent wife of his boss, Jordon Alwyn. Jordon is weak and has left his company wide open to be used and exploited by the mob. Carboni tries to assert himself and show the troops and his higher ups who's who and that he can swat this fly. Arrogance and entitlement equal stupidity and blind him to the fury he has just unleashed.

Probably not everyman's cup of tea, but I like these books. There's a bit more to them than the biff, bang, bosh of the premise. Don't get me wrong, I like the action and the one man waging war trope, but there's also some emotion and depth to the book. Ben Martin sees everything in black and white terms, right vs wrong. There's no grey, no shade, no compromise. It's a very simple philosophy and easily employed if you have already lost everything that matters to you. For the rest of us, life is about accommodations and compromises, I'm afraid. It's not hard to root for those who think otherwise. 

There's a splash of romance and sex thrown into the pages. Valerie falls for Ben. She can recognise her husband's weakness and succumbs to an attraction towards Ben; recognising qualities in him that Jordon doesn't possess. Ben deserves a bit of downtime in between his confrontations. Carboni has the usual Mob mistress and treats his wife and girlfriend just like a possession. I like the fire and spunkiness that his wife displayed in the face of his disrespect towards her. 

Overall an enjoyable read. There's a great sense of time and place. 

4 stars from 5

Read - April, 2022
Published - 1974
Page count - 168
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle


  1. These seem right up my alley. Thanks for the recommendation, Col.

    1. You're welcome. I hope you enjoy the series!

  2. It is interesting to meet a character who has that 'black and white' view of ethics, Col. Most of us learn it's not that easy, but for some characters, it works. I'm not one for books with a high body count and 'one person armies,' so I'm not sure this one's for me. But Ben does sound like an interesting character.

    1. Margot, I can understand that. There is an appeal to the books, probably in part from the unwavering conviction of the main character. It's also fun to see a kind of good vs evil story play out, even if we know life isn't like this. I don't think I would have as much fun with the books if I read them one after the other, but sprinking them into my reading around other types of crime fiction keeps me happy.

    2. *sprinkling (note to self - check for typos before hitting enter)