So, Brian Garfield's DEATH WISH - written in 1972, the basis for all those Charles Bronson revenge movies - was really, really, good. Kind of incredible, actually, and not quite what I was expecting. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if Neil Jordan went back to the book to get some story structure ideas for his underrated movie THE BRAVE ONE, starring Jodie Foster in what's essentially the Bronson role. Because most of the revenging doesn't happen until the novel's final fifty pages, and by then you're so deeply immersed in Paul Benjamin's understandable rage, helplessness and despair over what happened to his wife and daughter, and how this senseless act transforms him from an empathic liberal to radical, tough-on-crime conservative. There's a lot going on here, from social commentary on New York City as a would-be war zone (five years before the city really had its Summer of Hell of near bankruptcy) to grappling with Nixonian malaise to what it is to love someone and not be able to help them or save them from terrible events. The book is out of print, too - so someone, please reissue DEATH WISH!
(now to find the sequel, DEATH SENTENCE, which I gather isn't quite as good but still looks interesting.)