Thursday, June 25, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books: The Takers

The Takers (1984) by Jerry Ahern and Sharon Ahern
I recently read the first of the Hunt for Adventure books by James Reasoner, and it reminded me of of the books in The Takers series from the mid 80s. Often times I had to find my way though the maze of over stacked and over flowing shelves, the sneers of the employes and the harassment of my so called friends to strike adventure gold in my quest for escapist fiction. I recall one time that my group of friends in high school picked up my copy of the latest Spencer novel and decided that Robert B. Parker looked like a child molester on the back cover, but I digress.

As a teen in the late 1980s I was a big fan of Jerry Ahern's work. I discovered his work via Handguns magazine, where he wrote about holsters for the most part, but also often about knives and a few times about guns used on TV or in the movies. His writing for that magazine was more fun and adventure filled than the stats and impressions of others. It was from the articles that I discovered that he was also a paperback writer, and set out to find some of his books. I quickly discovered The Survivalist series, and was hooked from there. I found his stories to be accessible, fun and that they spoke to events and culture of the time.

Of all of the series he wrote I think the Takers books stand up best now. There were two Takers novels published in the '84 and '85, todays forgotten book is the first The Takers, The series was intended as the cover copy says to be in the spirit of Raiders of the Lost Ark-- here is the back copy for the book.

Josh Culhane, two-fisted adventurer who'll go anywhere, do anything, teams up with the sexy scholar Mary Mulrooney in breathtaking pursuit of the satanic Steiglitz and his slinky, psychotic daughter. The boldhearted couple races to grab a power so great that world leaders would risk death to get it. Culhane and Mulrooney battle halfway across the globe, through all the labyrinths of human history and myth, to a last stand beneath the Antarctic ice cap, where they find an ancient starbase whose builders had never gotten home.

It's been many years since I read this book, but I recall it fondly, with it's adventure trail around the world, but mostly the parts on the ice cap. Escapist and never taking it's self as anything more than a pulp adventure book, it was a fun and fast read. There was a second book in 1985 The Takers: River of Gold which I also read and enjoyed. Doing a little research for this FFB I see that there was third book published in 2001 The Takers: Summon the Demon.

I still have some of my Ahern collection lurking around and maybe it's time to revisit some of them with The Takers at the top of my list. I am also wondering what a Ahern penned Hunt for Adventure book might be like.

There is a full bibliography of Ahern books with covers HERE


pattinase (abbott) said...

Now adventure books are even more unknown to me than fanstasy.

James Reasoner said...

My favorite Ahern books are the Track novels, also published by Gold Eagle, but I liked the Takers books, too. Had no idea there was a third one. I'll have to check that out.

Iren said...

James: when I was a teen and into my early 20s I read everything I could find from Ahern. I enjoyed the Track & the They Call Me the Mercenary books. If you find that latest Takers book let em know what you think.

Sean said...

Some of you doubtless already know that Track #4 "The Hard Way" is kind of like the missing Takers novel as Josh Culhane joins Track in taking down terrorists at a Vegas casino, while MF looks for lost treasure in the desert. There is also a Takers short story about the Holy Grail that was published in an anthology. I was told that it was editted from a much longer story, but you'd have to go to the source on that one.

Summon the Demon was only released in ebook and audiobook formats. If you want more information on any of this, contact me offline (if you can figure out how ;-) ).


James Reasoner said...

Wasn't THE HARD WAY the book that featured cameo appearances by several real-life Gold Eagle authors?

Sean said...

The Hard Way is set against the backdrop of an adventure writers convention and there are several authors in it. I don't know if they were GE authors, because I didn't discover the Track/Takers connection until about ten years ago, by which time much of that information had slipped through the sieve that is my memory.

James Reasoner said...

Yeah, thinking back on it, one of the writers who plays a part in THE HARD WAY is named Meadowshed, an obvious reference to Bill Fieldhouse. I think Mike Newton may be in the book, too, under a different name, as well as Ahern himself. It's a fun book, but pretty lightweight after the great trilogy that opens the series.

I read a bunch of the Survivalist novels but never made it all the way to the end of the series. There was another Ahern series I liked fairly well called THE DEFENDER. I never got around to reading any of the Mercenary series he wrote as Axel Kilgore, although I had most of them at one time. I like authors who write with a distinctive voice, and Ahern certainly had one.

Iren said...

It's been a long time since I read the Track books, but now that you mention it, I do recall one that was set at a Adventure Writers Con that was fun. All of my remaining Ahern books are packed away at the moment (the rest were sold in the great purge of 2002-- moving out of state caused me to sell a lot of stuff) but I will have to dig some out once I am moved into my new place in Aug. I did find what looks to be a complete bibliography at

complete with covers. It's been long enough maybe it really is time for many of these to be rediscovered by readers.

Brian Drake said...

Forgive me for being late to the party on this topic, but I have just begun a correspondence with Jerry Ahern and am in the process of arranging an interview with him for my blog (I'm an old fan, too). I will ask him questions about The Takers, for sure, as it's also one of my favorites, and maybe I can get him to spill the who's who with regards to Track #4.

Iren said...

Brian, No worries on being late to the party. As the responses in this thread show there are still people out there who dig Ahern's work. Let me know when you have the interview up and I'll link to it.