cover image Floating City

Floating City

Eric Van Lustbader, Lustbader. Atria Books, $22 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-671-86808-6

Lustbader fans will herald the coming of this latest adventure in the astonishingly turbulent life of half-Asian, half-Caucasian, all-hero fighting machine Nicholas Linnear. Newcomers to the author's idiosyncratic work, however, may have trouble getting with this sequel to The Kaisho , which not only features the usual heaping doses of violence, sex and Japanese mysticism but requires pages of difficult exposition to recap the story thus far, which hooks on high-tech shenanigans. The novel opens with a trademark example of Lustbader's eroticized violence, as a Vietnam vet in 1983 Burma struggles to maintain his foothold among the nation's drug lords and exacts a deliciously nasty vengeance against a bitter enemy. Leap to the present and Linnear, soon trapped in Saigon's famed underground tunnels with only his `` tanjian eye ''--some sort of sensory enhancement that is mentioned all too often--to guide and protect him. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Linnear's old friend, ex-NYPD detective Lew Croaker, is also on the case, unleashing his prosthetic hand, complete with retractable claws and powered by lithium batteries, whenever the occasion arises. And so the wildly improbable but amazingly energetic action goes, from Washington to Tokyo and back to Vietnam, with periodic flashbacks thrown in, as well as a mobster nicknamed ``Bad Clams'' and a drug-lord named ``Rock,'' until it reaches not a conclusion but a setup for the next Linnear thriller (`` So it's not over , Vesper thought. It's just beginning ''). This is the kind of novel that fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles read when they grow up--and no one does it with more punch than Lustbader. (Aug.)