Death Brackets: Toughest Dicks vs. Baddest Thriller Heroes: Quarter Finals

Death Brackets logoAnd the tournament continues! This is our fourth Death Brackets post, and the suspense is horrible!  In the Intro, you met the contestants and learned the rules. During the First Round (Part 1 and Part 2), you got the tales of the tape, their competitive advantages, disadvantages, and the first corpses left behind in elimination.  So, enough with the preamble…on to the Elusive 8!

1) Sherlock Holmes vs. George Smiley

The battleground: San Pablo, Peru

The action: Smiley doesn’t mind being dropped into a foreign city. He’ll adapt. He’s always adapted. Holmes doesn’t adapt. He controls. He uses his incredible brain to explore moves and counter-moves. Holmes is great at using disguises to hide and gather intelligence.

Smiley hopes for an ambush. On the second day, he steals an old hunting rifle, hides in the second floor of an abandoned home and sets his sights on the town’s major crossroads. Holmes is tall and thin. He can’t disguise that, right?

Smiley never finds out. Because the great detective has been tracking him for hours, and creeps up the stairs to catch Smiley from behind and end the game.

Lives to fight another day: Sherlock Holmes.


2) Reacher vs. Dexter

The battleground: Jakarta, Indonesia

The action: Jakarta is a place where both men stand out. Getting food and shelter will be a problem. Steal money and try to rent a cheap hotel, risking arrest? Or sleep in the bush, or on the streets? Either choice is hard.

Reacher will definitely need to feed his massive body, so Dexter stakes out open-air markets. Soup kitchens. Churches and mosques. He arms himself with his favorite weapon, a syringe with enough bye-bye juice to knock out a rhino—or a man Reacher’s size.

Reacher knows he will be noticeable walking around as he stands head and shoulders above everyone else. So he doesn’t walk around. He rides  in an auto-rickshaw, looking for Dexter in places he’d look for himself.

He finds Dexter and doesn’t bother finding out whether the serial killer is any good at hand-to-hand combat, syringe or no syringe.

Running him over with the auto-rickshaw is much quicker and simpler.

Lives to fight another day: Reacher


3) Rawlins vs. Bond

The battleground: Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The action: Rawlins and Bond are completely different animals. Rawlins is a creature of the streets of LA, while Bond is as cosmopolitan and worldly as they come.

There are few places where Bond doesn’t have contacts and it takes two phone calls and 10 hours for an old friend to bring him a Walther PPK, a silencer and a wristwatch with a built-in garrote. The friend also introduces him to locals who know the town.

Rawlins makes his own contacts and friends. Cooks. Bartenders. Waitresses. He moves up from his comfort zone and talks to people who work at the best restaurants and hotels in the town, to get a lead on where Bond is sleeping and eating. He also asks where the prettiest girls tend to hang out and whether there’s a casino nearby.

Bond’s local pros spot Rawlins outside a hotel on Chapel Street, and Rawlins doesn’t even hear Bond roll up in the passenger seat of a Mercedes, line up his shot and fire.

Lives to fight another day: James Bond


4) Bosch vs. Rain

The battleground: Polar Bear Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The verdict: Polar bears dine on the bones of Harry and Rain—OK, that doesn’t happen, though it is a real fear of both men. Nobody wins a fist-fight with a polar bear, no matter how many years of training and combat they have.

Harry makes a rough spear out of a straight branch. He takes off his sock and puts a soft-ball sized rock inside. Stab the other man in the belly with the spear. Hit him in the skull with by swinging the rock. Not a bad idea.

Rain keeps his socks on. He wants to move fast, whether it’s through the woods or in the middle of a fight. Blisters would be a handicap. He puts a handful of rocks in his pockets to throw and finds a short, thick branch as a club.

The two men find each other at a creek bed. Harry’s spear gives him more reach than Rain’s club. Rain, though, doesn’t come anywhere near the spear. He hurls rocks at the head and chest of Harry, who has to decide: drop the spear and throw rocks right back, or charge to close the distance, hoping he doesn’t get hit?

He charges. Rain clips him on the side of the head with a baseball-sized rock. It stuns him enough for the other man to take his time with a second shot, with a bigger rock, thrown harder. Right at his chest. And another. And another.

Lives to fight another day: John Rain

Next: the Final Four: Sherlock Holmes vs. John Rain and Reacher vs. James Bond.

Images: Peru via, Indonesia via

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

    Okay, some of the surprise wins have flashed in the pans and gone down the tubes. We’re down to Sherlock, Reacher, Bond, and Rain.

    Rain is the only one that our original handicappers didn’t see coming–so how do the rest of the matches stack up? Who will be the Last Men Standing?

  2. Craig Pittman

    The winner will be Reacher. Unless Holmes unleashes his bee colonies on him. Then it’s Sherlock by a nose.

  3. Heather Waters (redline_)

    Poor Dexter. I’m gonna go with Holmes and Bond.

  4. Megan Frampton

    Huh. I’ve read all of these winners but Rain–so would I like him?
    (and in terms of predatoriness, it’s the polar bear, hands down!)

  5. Christopher Morgan

    So for the sake of clarification we have a genius Victorian detective, famous for his unmatched knowledge of London’s streets and powers of observation, going against one brutal tough/hand-to-hand expert and two trained infiltrators/killers? My money is on Holmes…

  6. Clare 2e

    @cmorgan You’re forgetting the BEES! Tx, @Craig Pittman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.