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'The Destroyer: Continental Divide' book review

Pulp Pulpit

The Destroyer series, which has been released in one form or another for about five decades, is known for blending action with political satire. The books focus on an ex-Newark cop named Remo Williams who is trained in the ancient (and fictional) art of Sinanju and is employed by the secret organization CURE to dispatch untouchable threats to the United States by fighting crime outside the boundaries of the Constitution.

Continental Divide, the latest entry in the series, continues the tradition of poking fun at current events -- in this case, the debate over American infrastructure and bi-partisan bickering in Washington D.C. (familiar political figures are lampooned). A certain cartoon from the 70s' also gets skewered.

It is an improvement over the last two entries but is still likelier to appeal to established fans of the series than win over the uninitiated.

The earlier books in the series such as 'Chinese Puzzle' had elements that could draw in new readers unfamiliar with the internal mythology of the books. The latest book relies heavily on recurring threats from previous books, introducing a group of both old and new characters that are effectively a sort of super villain team in their infancy.

The most prominent is the shape-shifting android Mr. Gordons, who in this book can also render himself immaterial courtesy of plot elements introduced in an unrelated story arc.

New writer R.J. Carter captures the established characters established by the original writers (Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, now sadly both deceased) as well as the banter between Remo and his aged Korean mentor Chuin (possibly one of the funniest characters in adventure fiction).

The book's resolution is dramatically frustrating because too many of the villains are allowed to escape justice despite Remo being nearly invincible. One suspects that the writers wanted to spread their bets for future story ideas. A pleasure of the earlier books was wondering what he writers would come up with next -- recurring heavies were an occasional treat rather than the norm.

The lack of regard for certain notions regarding political correctness will repel some readers, but this needs to be put in perspective. The Destroyer series is partially a satire of the men's action paperback novels that littered book racks during the 70s and 80s -- the genre featured lone wolf anti-heroes with reactionary, right-leaning outlooks (the Executioner series was one of the better ones, while the bad ones were too numerous to list here). This book smartly mocks both sides of the political fence.

Be warned; there is a scene involving one of the villains that cat lovers will hate.

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