Sunday 31 July 2022

MARC OLDEN (aka ROBERT HAWKE) - NARC (1973/2012)



A narcotics agent comes between a dealer and the biggest heroin shipment in history.

One thousand pounds of uncut heroin. Street value: a quarter of a billion dollars. New York's baddest dealer is a preening hustler named St. James Livingston, and his latest scheme will make the French Connection smuggling operation look small-time. The shipment is coming in through a Cuban diplomatic mission, and when it arrives Livingston won't just make a fortune. He'll make history. Only John Bolt stands in his way.

The meanest narcotics agent in the country, Bolt arrests Livingston's supplier during a South American raid. But cutting off the head won't kill this snake. Too many junkies are hungry for smack, and too many crooks are desperate for profits. The biggest shipment in history will also be the bloodiest, and Bolt stands to make a killing.

Marc Olden is an author whose name I have come across frequently in chats in a Facebook Men’s Adventure Paperback Group I belong to. Several members have praised his work, particularly his Black Samurai series. Not having read him before and having scouted out his books I thought I’d start somewhere else – namely with Narc which is the first in a nine book long series of hard-boiled books featuring a narcotics agent, John Bolt.

There’s a lot I liked about the initial premise. I like books set in the 70s, I like crime novels set in New York. I enjoy books that have drugs at their core with dealing, criminal gangs, police operations targeting them, undercover operatives, a big shipment or score, the potential for corruption with the temptation of easy money or sexual favours for a cop or politician who can turn a blind eye, provide information, or facilitate a deal through some high-level contact. I also like the straight arrow cop. The one who is incorruptible and solely focussed on his target and quite happy to cut a corner or two in procedure or process to get him closer to his quarry. John Bolt is such a risk taker. Bolt while mainly concentrating on the case, does also find the time to get down and dirty with his lady friend, someone who gets sucked into his violent world of criminals and is in danger. There’s an extra motivation for our hero to get his man, not that he needs it.

Olden serves up a hard-hitting tale with an exciting pay-off. There’s not too much in the way of flowery prose or detail, but he can deliver a gripping tale and a story that holds the interest and in which I was invested in the outcome. 

I’ll definitely be back for the second one in the series. Hopefully more than that, but time will tell. Roll on Death of a Courier. 

4 stars from 5 

The Harker File from another series of his has been enjoyed before.

Read – April, 2022
Published – 1973
Page count – 169
Source – Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle


  1. It sounds as though this one really does pack a punch, Col. And there is something about those '70s settings and contexts, isn't there? It's funny, the main character shares his name with a guy I knew who helped analyze some of my Ph.D. thesis data. As soon as I read it, I thought of that guy - weird how we do that, isn't it?

    1. Margot, I have been enjoying this author's work fairly recently but nothing more from this series just yet. I don't think the name check thing you made is weird at all, I think it's a natural connection to make, especially as both names are identical. I've made the same comparison myself but it's usually been with either a distinctive christian name or surname. Never have they both been the same.