Death Brackets: Toughest Dicks vs. Baddest Thriller Heroes: First Round, Part 2

Death Brackets

This is the third installment in our Death Brackets: Toughest Dicks vs Baddest Thriller Heroes.  In the intro, you learned the rules and met the contestants

In Part 1 of the First Round, we gave you the first four matches of our Savage Sixteen.  Today, the last four. And then the competition gets really stiff!

5) Battleground: A logging camp in the Yukon Territory.


Dave Robicheaux

 – Sheriff’s deputy and investigator in New Iberia, Louisiana. Troubled soul hunting more troubled souls. Cornerman: James Lee Burke.

James Bond

 – The most famous fictional spy on the planet. Brought to life in 1953’s Casino Royale and hasn’t taken a day off yet. Cornerman: Ian Fleming.

Pros Vietnam veteran. Has no problem breaking the rules to solve any case that he’s working on. He truly doesn’t care about ethics and niceties and procedure. Expert pilot, driver, diver, card player and fighter. The charming veneer hides the heart of a cold-blooded spy and killer. He’s battled every villain you can think of and come out on top.
Cons Recovering alcoholic. Suffers from terrible nightmares and depression. Used to dealing with criminals, not world-class spies and masterminds. A weakness for women has tended to hurt him, time after time. He does like the finer things in life. Roughing it is not his style. Smokes an average of 60 cigarettes a day in the novels. Drinks a lot.
Vegas Line Robicheaux spent time in Vietnam, so the bush isn’t a foreign environment to him. Bond is less at home without his gadgets, cars and four-star hotel room.

Outcome: Bond is simply leagues ahead of Robicheaux, who is busy looking for a suitable hiding place for the night when Bond strangles him with a garrote.

Current Score:
Master detectives, 2 / Spies, assassins, anti-heroes, 3.

6) Battleground: The suburbs of Houston, TX.



 – Boston PI. Served in the U.S. Army during Korean War and later worked as state trooper. Cornerman: James Lee Burke.

John Rain

 – Half-Japanese, half-American assassin. Specializes in making kills look like death by natural causes. Cornerman: Barry Eisler.

Pros Ex-boxer who once fought the heavyweight champ. Former football player. Overall tough guy who still boxes and lifts weights to stay in shape. Ageless. A flat-out killer. Master of close-combat. Years of experience studying judo and jiu-jitsu. Also good with blades and  firearms. Tough guy’s tough guy, used to travelling silently and alone. 
Cons Used to his sidekick, Hawk, having his back and girlfriend, Susan, being a sounding board. Does have some pesky morals. Serious weaknesses for jazz, single-malt scotch and beautiful women.
Vegas Line Bit of a debate about whether Spenser’s sidekick is actually tougher than he is. Hard to find. Hard to kill. Hard to avoid.

Outcome: Strip malls and cul de sacs make for an interesting test of the strengths and weaknesses of these two men. Spenser steals a car and starts patrolling the streets, looking for Rain. Rain lets him do that for a day. And a night. And another day.

Spenser can’t stay awake forever. He’s used to being the hunter, not the hunted. Hiding isn’t his forte. On the last day, Rain surprises him as he sleeps in the parking lot of a Home Depot—and breaks his neck.

Current Score:
Master detectives, 2 / Spies, assassins, anti-heroes, 4.

7) Battleground: Tripoli, Libya.


Easy Rawlins

 – World War II vet turned unofficial and unlicensed Los Angeles private detective. Cornerman: Walter Mosely.

Hannibal Lecter

 – Serial killer. Eats pieces of his victims. Helps FBI find serial killers, helps killers find FBI. Cornerman: Thomas Harris.

Pros Trained soldier, experienced fighter. Not attached to one system or method—good at improvising. Brilliant psychiatrist with insight into the mind of all hunters and killers. Experienced killer without qualms or hesitation.
Cons Sidekick, Mouse, is definitely the deadlier of this duo. Compulsion to kill close up known to land him in hot water.
Vegas Line Good at keeping close to the ground, where all big cities are alike. More cosmopolitan, more at home in a foreign land than Rawlins.

Outcome: In post-war Libya, there’s no shortage of weaponry on the black market. Lecter heads for a hospital to stock up on scalpels, syringes and lethal drugs, but Rawlins gets a rocket-propelled grenade and somebody with an AK-47 to watch his back. He knows Lecter is most comfortable around hospitals and is waiting on the roof of a building across the street.

They find pieces of Lecter five blocks away.

Current Score:
Master detectives, 3 / Spies, assassins, anti-heroes, 4.

8) Battleground: Brugge, Belgium.


Harry Bosch

 – Tunnel rat during the Vietnam War. Became a detective for the LAPD Cornerman: Michael Connelly.


 – Former governor of Florida. Abandoned job to live in the woods, eat road kill, trip on toad sweat, and mete out his version of justice. Cornerman: Carl Hiaasen.

Pros Experienced hunter, both from tunnel rat days and 30 years in homicide.  Strong. Wild. Able to live off the land. A fearless fighter who often carries a gun.
Cons Jazz. Women. Rules of any sort. A bit long in the tooth. Tends to get distracted, tying self to bridges to experience hurricanes, etc.
Vegas Line Experienced in hunting those who prefer not to be found. Six-foot-six and ready for anything nature might throw at him.

Outcome: Bosch catches up to Skink on the banks of a canal, where the ex-governor is using a big butcher knife to skin a roadkill snake. But you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. Bosch wins.

Current Score:
Master detectives, 4 / Spies, assassins, anti-heroes, 4.

Next up: the Elite Eight: Sherlock Holmes vs. George Smiley, Reacher vs. Dexter, Easy Rawlins vs. James Bond and Harry Bosch vs. John Rain

Guy Bergstrom is a speechwriter and reformed reporter. His first novel, Ten Days, was a 2011 PNWA finalist for best mystery-thriller. You can pick literary knife fights with him at @epicblackcar on Twitter.


  1. Clare 2e

    If you didn’t see Part 1 of the [url=]First Round of Death Brackets[/url], it’s here.

    This one proved a bit of a spoiler–sorry, Rain, but no one saw you beating Spenser! Easy Rawlins kept it simple to prevail over Hannibal, another out-of-nowhere victory. Still, from the intro, EVERYONE saw Bond as the victor against the outmatched Robicheaux, and Skink didn’t stand a chance against Harry Bosch.

    This concludes the Savage 16!

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