RARA-AVIS: Paul Kavanagh

From: Larson, Craig ( Craig.Larson@tsjc.cccoes.edu)
Date: 10 Sep 2001

I'm primarily a lurker on this list, but since I joined, I've been finding all sorts of titles to add to my reading stacks. A while back, I bid on and won a pair of Paul Kavanagh (aka Lawrence Block?) books on eBay: _Such Men are Dangerous_ and _The Triumph of Evil_. Yesterday, I actually found time to read _Such Men..._ It was an interesting and unusual book.

At the front of the book are two prefaces, designed to suggest that the book is autobiographical and that the editors just went ahead and printed the story the way they received it, with a plea to Kavanagh to contact them if he'd like changes made in subsequent editions. I thought this was a neat way of excusing typographical errors and the occasional lapse, and there were a few, though it's hard to know if they were deliberate or not.

Kavanagh tells the story, in first person, of Paul Kavanagh, ex-soldier and failed prospect at "the Agency." After he is told he isn't what they're looking for, Kavanagh drifts around, ultimately winding up on a small island in the Florida Keys, where he indulges his "do nothing" list, 10 suggestions to help him remember how to stay disengaged from life. When the same operative who explained to Kavanagh earlier why he'd been rejected shows up on the island with an offer: split two million dollars after hijacking a shipment of highly dangerous and secret army weapons, it's surprising how quickly Kavanagh agrees, though he first nearly drowns the operative.

The story from there becomes something of a Richard Stark clone, with Kavanagh impersonating an Agency man at the army base where the weapons are to be shipped from. As the inside man, it is his job to determine the schedule, route, etc., of the shipment and set up the hit. As someone else has mentioned, though, ultimately this book "out-Starks" Stark--Kavanagh is much more coldly ruthless-- he and his partner methodically kill 19 men to carry off their heist, and there are suggestions that Kavanagh really might be going crazy.

I was going to ask if there were any additional Kavanagh books featuring Kavanagh as a character--_The Triumph of Evil_ has another character, Miles Dorn, I think, as its lead--but after reviewing my brief plot summary again, I can see why there probably wouldn't be more Kavanagh/Kavanagh books. Were there any other Kavanagh books besides these two? Oh, and the copy I had said that _Such Men Are Dangerous_ was "soon to be a major motion picture." Did anything ever come of that?

Craig Larson Trinidad, CO

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