MacArthur Must Die

Ian Slater, Author
Ian Slater, Author Dutton Books $21.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-55611-383-3
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Apparently trying for something like ``The Eye of the Jackal Has Landed,'' Slater ( Firespill ) has cooked up a goulash that goes down pretty easily even though the good guys' final ruse lacks spice. In order to save Axis holdings in the southwest Pacific, Japanese war minister Tojo is determined to kill General Douglas MacArthur, who is in Brisbane, Australia, plotting a counter-offensive against Japan. Having spent a year in Brisbane as an exchange student, young Tomokazu Somura is given the assignment: to pilot a U.S. Navy Wildcat launched from a Japanese I-boat submarine and drop a bomb on MacArthur's headquarters. After losing his plane in the initial unsuccessful bombing attempt, Somura heads to Brisbane and MacArthur, using his onetime Australian girlfriend as dupe and eventual hostage. The fight between an Australian destroyer escort and the Japanese sub is the best part of the book: the action is tautly detailed, and the good guys win. Otherwise, the love interest is pretty sappy, the characters are not deeply delineated and the writing ranges from serviceable to clunky. Readers will recognize the ``old Japanese proverb . . . `Once bitten, twice shy.' '' 50,000 first printing. (Mar.)
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