THE PENETRATOR

 
Full Name: Mark Hardin
Series Name: The Penetrator
Nationality: American
Organization: -
Occupation Freelance Agent

Creator: Lionel Derrick
Time Span: 1973 - 1984
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Mark Hardin, the Penetrator, is a freelance agent.
       Orphaned at age four when his entire family, parents and three siblings, were killed in a car crash, Hardin's early life was one of brutal beatings and mistreatment. Managing to rise above that and attend college through an athletic scholarship, he saw those hopes smashed in an injury that ended his playing days.
       Then came the war in Vietnam where he received training in the art of infiltrating an enemy's base, reconnoitering for intelligence, and then striking at its most sensitive spots. During his tours, he would receive a Bronze Star with oak leaf and a Silver Star, along with several scars from severe wounds.
       With the end of his time in the army, Hardin happened upon his old football coach. With that mentor and a favored professor from UCLA, Hardin decides to put meaning to his skills as a champion of the average man and became the freelance agent known as the Penetrator.
       Hardin stands 6'2 1/2 tall, weighs 170 lbs, has brown eyes, black hair, and an olive complexion. Having a considerable amount of American Indian blood in him, he is a natural tracker. He is a medalled marksman with skills in a wide variety of weapons, including his hands and feet.
       Mark Hardin loves hard and long. He is incredibly loyal to the few people he calls friends and a fervent patriot.
       The Penetrator series from Pinnacle was a collection of paperback-only adventures coming on the heels of the Executioner and the Destroyer. Written by two men, Chet Cunningham and Mark Roberts, these books took an aimless man with no real objective in life and gave him a mission.
       In doing so, they seemed to take the notion used in governmental oaths of allegiance to fight 'all enemies, foreign and domestic' for roughly 35% of the missions are internal problems with criminals of one sort or another while the larger 65% takes the character into conflict with international opponents or troubles of a global nature. It is another aspect the series has with those other Pinnacle-published series.
       According to Hubin's Crime Fiction IV, Mr. Roberts wrote every even-numbered adventure and Mr. Cunningham every odd-numbered one.

BOOKS

Number of Books:53
First Appearance:1973
Last Appearance:1984

1 The Target Is H The Target Is H
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1973

The first book in the series shows the progression of the character from a wandering almost bum into the edged fighter that would make a name for himself. The first assignment to come for this new weapon is to stop an influx of heroin into the California area from China. Not a spy novel.

2 Blood On The Strip Blood On The Strip
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1973

White slavers are turning young females into unwilling dancers in Vegas skin shows. Hardin heads to that Nevada entertainment site to take on the mob and stop this nefarious crime. Not a spy novel.

3 Capitol Hell Capitol Hell
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1974

An old friend of Hardin, now in the public position of Press Secretary to the President, is killed by an assailant while working in his office at the White House. This is just the first of several deaths of people associated with an exclusive men's club in the capitol.

4 Hijacking Manhattan Hijacking Manhattan
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1974

A band of radical students is behind a violent explosion on the subway which destroys the 72nd street station. Demanding two million dollars to not continue their activities, the group attracts the attention of Hardin who wants to find out if it is politics or greed at wook.

5 Mardi Gras Massacre Mardi Gras Massacre
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1974

The head of a fisherman co-op in the delta of New Orleans is behind a KGB plan to ruin the U.S. economy by flooding it with counterfeit money. Hardin must take on a powerful union to get to the truth.

6 Tokyo Purple Tokyo Purple
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1974

While he is on vacation in Japan, Hardin learns of the disappearance of a noted nuclear scientist. Soon thereafter comes word that someone is offering atomic bombs for the right price.

7 Baja Bandidos Baja Bandidos
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1974

The disappearance of a friend of Professor Haskins while traveling in Mexico prompts Hardin to investigate the actions of a man who calls himself El Baron and seems to be using kidnapping to finance a plot to take over all of Mexico.

8 The Northwest Contract The Northwest Contract
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1975

An old army buddy, now a sheriff in a Washington county, is killed and Mark Hardin wants to know why. Checking into the matter puts him against a group of corrupt cops and even more corrupt public officials.

9 Dodge City Bombers Dodge City Bombers
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1975

Who are the Shadowmen and why have they chosen the modest Kansas city as the site of their violent actions. It becomes clear that there is someone high up behind their actions and that they are just starting.

10 The Hellbomb Flight The Hellbomb Flight
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1975

A former high level official at NASA has a plan for taking control of all of America's nuclear weapons through a sophisticated computer system in a hidden base in Nevada. The Penetrator must stop the plot before the word gets out.

11 Terror In Taos Terror In Taos
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1975

Someone has stolen valuable artifacts from an American Indian site and murdered an Indian holy man in the process. As the site quickly fills with militant Indians and state troopers, Hardin is asked by David Red Eagle to diffuse the trouble by finding out who is the true culprit.

12 Bloody Boston Bloody Boston
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1976

A college roommate of Hardin, the son of a major Mafia capo in the Boston area, asks his old friend for a bizarre favor. Someone is muscling in on the mob's drug business and Hardin is asked to help stop the newcomers. He knows the lives of many innocent people are at stake.

13 Dixie Death Squad Dixie Death Squad
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1976

Her name was Linda King but she also was known as the Colonel. She was thought to be a wealthy social worker but she was really turning her charges into killing machines and a major TVA dam is in danger of destruction unless her demands are met.

14 Mankill Sport Mankill Sport
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1976

Mark Hardin was stalking a major Detroit drug lord when he realizes that he is himself being stalked. Someone has hired a gang of skilled killers to take out the Penetrator.

15 The Quebec Connection The Quebec Connection
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1976

To fight for the independence of Quebec, the 23 May Liberation Front has been selling drugs of all sorts to both Canada and the U.S. Now they have a new designer drug called ziff with a horrendous genetic-altering side effect.

16 Deep-Sea Shootout Deep-Sea Shootout
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1976

The lead archeologist in charge of a deep-sea expedition to find a vast fortune in Spanish treasure has gone missing and Hardin is sent to discover who is out to steal the loot.

17 Demented Empire Demented Empire
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1976

Once again Hardin's old college roommate, Tony Rossi, appeals to the Penetrator for help to stop a war that will cost the lives of countless innocents. This time it is in Florida where a new gang is selling guns at a cut-rate to anyone with money, all to fight the hold of the Mafia.

18 Countdown To Terror Countdown To Terror
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1976

The FALN, fighting for independence of Puerto Rico, is planning a huge plot called Operation Luz which will result in tremendous devastation unless Hardin can find the leader in the streets of Spanish Harlem.

19 Panama Power Play Panama Power Play
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1977

Even as the American government seeks to extradite a rich white-collar criminal in exile in Costa Rica, that individual is scheming to ensure his freedom by taking control of the Panama Canal.

20 The Radiation Hit The Radiation Hit
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1977

Something unpleasant is being planned at the Rocky Mountain Nuclear Generating Plant and it seems to involve a terrorist cell wanting uranium for making its own bomb. Hardin must find out what is being schemed and stop it.

21 The Supergun Mission The Supergun Mission
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1977

The infiltration of illegal Mexicans to find work is nothing new but when they are smuggled to a secret base north of Dallas and then not allowed to leave, Hardin steps in. He uncovers, however, a fantastic scheme to create a super weapon to sell to the highest bidder.

22 High Disaster High Disaster
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1977

Someone is attacking the state of Oregon - burning forestland and poisoning a large lake. This is just the start and it seems to be related to the confessions of the secretary of a prominent Senator to allegations of wild sexual indiscretions.

23 Divine Death Divine Death
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1977

The group is called the Church of the Final Coming. It is behind the disappearance of several young people and apparently the deaths of several police officers investigating the case. Hardin learns the leader's orders come from Moscow.

24 Cryogenic Nightmare Cryogenic Nightmare
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1978

Preacher Mann is at the top of his game in the rackets of drugs and women. Now operating out of Florida, he has a new scheme involving the kidnapping of beautiful women, freezing them and shipping them to the highest bidder.

25 Floating Death Floating Death
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1978

As a U.S. Public Health Services official, the doctor was in charge of the killing of diseased animals but in truth the man was working on a plan to control the world's meat supply unless Hardin can stop him.

26 Mexican Brown Mexican Brown
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1978

The heroin that was called Mexican Brown had more than just the illegal substance in it, it had a poison that would bring death to thousands if Hardin cannot stop the shipments.

27 The Animal Game The Animal Game
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1978

Someone is stealing pets. Lots and lots and lots of pets, all over the Eastern Seaboard. It was a bizarre plot and Hardin cannot quite believe it but he is sent to find out who wants these thousands of cats and dogs and why. This is a very weak plot to say the least.

28 The Skyhigh Betrayers The Skyhigh Betrayers
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1978

The project to create a new atomic shielding has been infiltrated with the head of the project murdered and the second-in-command missing, along with the plans for device.

29 Aryan Onslaught Aryan Onslaught
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1979

When the Aryan Brotherhood invaded a small city in Utah and took it over, there was no one who offered resistance for all the citizens were the victims of a mind-controlling drug that eliminated all will to fight back. Their plans were not confined to just that community, however, unless Hardin can stop them.

30 Computer Kill Computer Kill
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1979

An embittered ex-employee of a major electronics firm has come up with a scheme to steal millions from banks via computers and destroy the trust in the economic system while he is at it unless Hardin can get to him first.

31 Oklahoma Firefight Oklahoma Firefight
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1979

The Arab terrorist group Al Jihad is in the Oklahoma oilfields with a scheme to make America even more dependent on Middle East oil by destroying domestic production.

32 Showbiz Wipeout Showbiz Wipeout
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1979

The Global Talent Agency has managed to sign some of the world's biggest stars by making them offers they can't refuse. Hardin is asked to step in and find a way of breaking these lead-based contracts.

33 Satellite Slaughter Satellite Slaughter
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1979

Someone's satellite is causing extremely strange activities in the atmosphere from apparent attacks on aircraft, eerie lights in the evening, and possibly even a bizarre storm that is growing in strength.

34 Death Ray Terror Death Ray Terror
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1979

When an environmental group's protest of a high-security laboratory in New Mexico inadvertently brings evidence of a KGB sleeper agent, Hardin is dispatched to find out what the objective of the spy is and to stop it.

35 Black Massacre Black Massacre
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1980

The rapid increase in the deaths of large numbers of blacks due to sickle cell anemia is spreading and Hardin travels to Puerto Rico in order to track down who is trying to eliminate an entire race.

36 Deadly Silence Deadly Silence
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1980

A major union's newest leader has a bizarre plan to increase his power base by bringing the entire country's communications abilities to a standstill. Hardin is ordered to find out how and to stop it.

37 Candidate's Blood Candidate's Blood
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1980

Someone decided that the leading candidate in Alabama's senatorial race was not the best choice and put a bullet in his head. Hardin's job is to find out who is stealing the elections across that state.

38 Hawaiian Trackdown Hawaiian Trackdown
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1980

The sick evil of child pornography has Hardin on the trail of some major players in the illegal smut trade, a path that takes him from the Valley in California to the lush beaches of Hawaii.

39 Cruise Into Chaos Cruise Into Chaos
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1980

Theft on the high seas is not something new but someone has the new twist of using WWII U-Boats to stop and rob cruise ships plying the west coast area. Hardin has ideas that the Mafia is behind it all.

40 Assassination Factor Assassination Factor
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1981

In the land of free speech, a deadly assassin is silencing the voices of those who speak out against the government. Hardin needs to step in to defend the First Amendment.

41 Hell's Hostages Hell's Hostages
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1981

Following the debacle in Iran, another fundamentalist ayatollah has led a group of students to take over the American consulate in the small Persian Gulf sheikdom of Persis. Hardin and some old Vietnam War buddies volunteer to mount a rescue mission.

42 Inca Gold Hijack Inca Gold Hijack
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1981

An ingenious scheme to take over a priceless shipment of ancient Incan golden artifacts brings Hardin to Chicago to find the criminals. Not a spy novel.

43 Rampage In Rio Rampage In Rio
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1981

A Fourth Reich band of Nazis hidden in the Brazilian jungle raises funding for its plots by kidnapping rich people's family and demanding extremely high ransoms.

44 Deep Cover Blast-Off Deep Cover Blast-Off
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1981

The murder of a CIA agent friend of Hardin points the way to a hidden cache of Soviet missiles in or around Lake Erie ready to launch against the U.S.

45 Quaking Terror Quaking Terror
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1982

Someone has found a way to activate volcanoes along the Pacific coast from Seattle to San Diego and Hardin must stop him before that whole region explodes.

46 Terrorist Torment Terrorist Torment
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1982

The PLO has taken hostage a conference of diplomats planning to create a counter organization to OPEC. Hardin must find a way into the highly secure compound to free the hostages.

47 Orphan Army Orphan Army
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1982

Someone is turning young children into zombie-like killing machines and spreading panic in nations all over the world.

48 Jungle Blitz Jungle Blitz
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1982

Hardin returns to the jungles of Vietnam to free an old friend still help prisoner there but must confront the Vietnamese army as well as an insane ex-GI who has his own forces.

49 Satan's Swarm Satan's Swarm
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1982

International terrorists have freed a crazed but brilliant scientist from an insane asylum and taken him to a lab in Nicaragua to create a deadly strain of large, extremely aggressive ants.

50 Neutron Nightmare Neutron Nightmare
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1983

Testing the security of an air force base, Hardin discovers a small group of KGB agents involved in a plot to detonate neutron bombs in a wild plot to steal important documents.

51 Plundered Paradise Plundered Paradise
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1983

Hijacking pleasure boats in the Caribbean and killing the passengers and crew is the way a group of would-be rebels are financing their plan to overthrow an island nation. They err, however, when they pick the boat Hardin was vacationing on.

52 Brotherhood Of Blood Brotherhood Of Blood
Written by Chet Cunningham
Copyright: 1983

The Mafia has a new way of rigging pro football games - they have a group of players who take out key players before the game starts. Hardin gets involved when a running back 'falls' from a third floor window. Not a spy novel.

53 City Of The Dead City Of The Dead
Written by Mark Roberts
Copyright: 1984

The KGB has a scheme to wipeout major American cities and it starts with a biological warfare plant in Bolivia. Hardin, embarking on his last mission, is determined to destroy that laboratory before it goes into production.

MY COMMENTS

       As one of the many Executioner clones that hit the market in the 70's, it would be easy to totally ignore the Penetrator, especially since the name of the series is so strange. He doesn't execute. He doesn't destroy. He doesn't liquidate. He penetrates! Huh?
       Still, the writing of the series is quite enjoyable and the stories are continually interesting. It isn't a bad way of spending some time. Don't expect too much and you might be surprised.
       Unlike the Executioner and the Destroyer and the Death Merchant and the Butcher (whew!), I did not read the Penetrator when they first came out in the early 70's. It wasn't until I started this site that I took to reading them and was very pleasantly surprised. Hardin is a very likeable man and his adventures are very likeable reads. As spy books they are lacking but as the adventures they are meant to be, they are good.

GRADE

My Grade: C

Your Average Grade:   A+

YOUR OPINIONS
Rock Savage A+ 11/5/2012 2:29:58 PM

I was also surprised. They are now audio books!!


David Hawk A+ 8/27/2014 1:02:40 PM

One of my favorites of the many Bolan clones.


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