Nicholai Hel was already an accomplished assassin, a master of hoda korosu ("naked kill"), when introduced in Trevanian's 1979 Shibumi. Now Winslow (The Life and Death of Bobby Z.) dons Trevanian's mantle and cloaks Hel in a tangled series of adventures and misadventures in this exciting prequel. Hel's conditional ticket out of an American-run prison in 1951 Japan requires him to acquire a new face and identity and to carry out a probably suicidal mission to assassinate Soviet commissioner Yuri Voroshenin in China. In the guise of 26-year-old Michel Guibert, a French arms dealer, Hel enters a labyrinthine world of intrigue as various Chinese factions and foreign interests struggle for advantage. Winslow successfully fleshes out Hel's mixed heritage (aristocratic Russian mother, surrogate Japanese father and mentor), and eventually takes him to war-torn Vietnam, where Hel's expertise in applying Go strategy is as important to his survival as his physical skills. Winslow has crafted an impressive prelude to a highly esteemed classic thriller. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/2011 Release date: 03/01/2011 Genre: Fiction
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