The Temple Dogs

Warren Murphy, Author, Molly Cochran, Author Dutton Books $18.95 (328p) ISBN 978-0-453-00632-3
This writing team's foray into the criminal underworlds of the American Mafia and its Japanese counterpart, the Yakuza, is perhaps most valuable as an encyclopedia of gangster cliches. Though the novel is replete with the usual criminal atrocities, the most flagrant crime is committed by the authors themselves--against the English language. When Susi Haverford and her husband are gunned down at their wedding reception by members of the notorious DeSanto crime family, Miles Haverford, Susi's brother, determines to retaliate. He heads to Japan to find Nagoya, leader of the Yakuza, the only mobsters capable of destroying the DeSantos clan. Originally a spoiled, feckless WASP, Miles is transformed into a fierce warrior of the Yakuza, whose greatest challenge is to survive the pathological hatred of Sato, Nagoya's heir apparent. Sato is jealous of the American's influence with the other warriors, not to mention his fiancee, the porcelain-complexioned--what else?--Tomiko.This situation occasions the most bizarre episode in the novel--a brawl in a heap of manure. Afterward, Miles returns to New York to lead the Yakuza against the DeSanto mob and the fun begins: heads are decapitated, arrows fly, necks are snapped, knives with oriental tassels are thrown at the faces of unsuspecting mafiosi, hands chop spinal cords. The final shoot-out in Central Park is a muddled orgy of mindless bloodletting. The authors ( High Priest ) display a tenuous understanding of Japanese culture, and their stereotypical portrayal of Italian mobsters makes this novel a study in banality. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989
Release date: 08/01/1989
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-451-16710-1
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