Full Name: Mark Stone
Series Name: M.I.A. Hunter
Nationality: American
Organization: None
Occupation Freelance Agent

Creator: Stephen Mertz
Time Span: 1985 - 2014


       Mark Stone, aka the M.I.A. Hunter, is a freelance agent.
       By that I mean he works for no particular agency or corporation. He picks and chooses his clients and his missions and he looks very carefully at both before deciding. Reasonable since his life truly hinges on it.
       His official "cover", if that is the right word for it, is that of a private investigator licensed in California. He became one when he got out of the U.S. military after the Vietnam War, needing something to do to earn a living and to make a difference. However, his true vocation is that of person hunting for his fellow soldiers who have gone Missing In Action and who have been, for all intents and purposes, written off by the government. More specifically at first, he was after those actually were P.O.W.'s still held by the Vietnamese. As time goes by, his range increased and his opponents varied. His mission remained the same, though, bringing home those who could not get there alone.
       When we first meet Stone, he is around 35 years old having served for most of his adult life in the elite special forces Green Berets, rising to the rank of Master Sergeant. Leaving the service he started up his investigative business but the remembrance of his final days in Vietnam held as a prisoner of war kept him from moving on completely, that and the realization that though he made it back, others did not. Using his own resources, he decided to go back to the jungles to bring out some who were still held there.
       Since the government officially were declaring that there were no longer P.O.W.'s, he going after them put him at odds with several different departments, especially the CIA who had its own agendas going on. When he succeeded in bringing back a couple, tensions really added up.
       At least for a while. As the series progresses, his expertise in extraction under impossible conditions became too big a calling card for these very same organizations who were having their own people taken prisoner all over the world. If he could bring out the ones from Vietnam like he had, the reasoning went, he could do the same for them. With that his life would change while really staying the same.

       Helping Stone throughout his campaigns are three important people.
       "Hog" Wiley is a huge man whose looks are bad enough even a good friend like Stone would class him as ugly. In a fight, though, his ferocity and his love of action and mayhem makes him the perfect companion.
       Terrence Loughlin is a much more civilized individual. A Brit who served alongside Stone, like Wiley did, in Southeast Asia, Loughlin is the best of friends with Wiley and would willingly give his life to save the other. One would never know it, though, to listen to them.
       Carol Jenner is Stone's lady and a lawyer with terrific contacts back in the nation's capital and the chutzpah to use it to help keep Stone and company alive in places they are not supposed to be.


Number of Books:17
First Appearance:1985
Last Appearance:2014

       As I was preparing to make this entry in the compendium, I contacted via Facebook the author, Stephen Mertz, and asked about who wrote what. He responded graciously with:
       "Here is a snippet from a Glorious Trash interview I did a few years back that gives the baseline info on the series. As to authorship, all books are credited to me. From time to time collaborators pitched in (most famously Joe R, whose intro to the Sunterrnian Press collection of our three novels will explain how it was from the POV of those employed to develop rough drafts from my outlines, which I then revised to meet series standards. Thank you for your interest. Please share some insight into the origins of the MIA Hunter series. It was always my assumption that it was intended to capitalize on the “POW-rescue” aspect of First Blood Part II, but it would seem that the series was already planned and being written a year or so before that film even came out."
       He further added this quote from that interview:
       "That Bolan novel, Return to Vietnam, pretty much knocked people out when it first appeared. The book was a tremendous success and made several trade bestseller lists. An editor at Berkley saw the potential and asked me to sketch the MIA concept as the basis for a series. They liked Mark Stone, Terrance Loughlin and Hog Wiley, and so The MIA Hunter was born. By the way, those books ended up resonating with a broad audience of readers beyond the general men’s series readership. In the 1980s, there was a genuine concern among many that there were living American MIA/POWs left behind after the end of the Vietnam War. Anecdotal evidence kept filtering out that we’d left men behind who were still alive, though nothing ever materialized to the best of my knowledge. You can still see the black MIA/POW flags flying."
       Check out Glorious Trash for the full interview and for a ton of other information on other series.

Note: When the series first was published, the books were credited to Jack Buchanan, a pseudonym of Stephen Mertz. When they were re-released in mid 2010s, the author's real name was used.

Note: The synopsis of each book is in quotes, meaning I used the publisher's blurb from each as they were written better than I could.



       The M.I.A. Hunter books were intended be fast-action Men's Adventure books, filled with near constantly excitement and danger and explosions and the like.
       Boy! Do they ever deliver!
       The main character, Mark Stone, never seems to have time to catch his breath when he accepts a mission and neither does the reader. These books are non-stop action and the guy who puts his money down on the counter for one of these tales more than gets his money's worth.
       There is not much in the way of cloak-and-dagger, leave a message at the dead drop here but there was never intended to be any. There is "go in under cloak of darkness" and "shove the dagger in deeper" resulting in more than one dead guy dropping to the floor but the guys who wrote these books worded it a whole lot better than I just did.
       If you want excitement while having to deal with the CIA and other intelligence groups all while trying to save prisoners of one sort or another, this is for you. It was for me, both back in the late 80s early 90s when I first read them and again when I got the ebooks for this entry.


My Grade: B+


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