Series Sampler Book Review: Legacy #7 -- 100 Proof

November 17, 2018

 

The Legacy series is a spin-off the popular Destroyer series -- a men's action paperback series from the 70s' that is still being published. 

The original series by the late Warren Murphy and Richard Saphir chronicled the adventures of Remo Williams -- a police officer from Newark, New Jersey who is framed for the murder of a heroin dealer and sentenced to die in the electric chair. A secretive organization tampers with Remo's execution, fakes his death and transports him to a sanitarium in Rye, New York.

The organization, CURE, protects America by secretly functioning outside the constitution and fighting crime with strategically released information. CURE director Harold Smith, a former CIA and OSS agent, decides the organization needs an enforcement arm if it is to function effectively in certain situations and conscripts the legally dead Remo. 

Smith contracts Chuin, the last member of an ancient group of Korean assassins, to train Remo. Chiun is a master of Sinanju -- the progenitor of most martial arts and a discipline that renders its disciples virtually invincible. 

The series has all the sex, violence and draconian plots that readers find in books from that era. The Executioner series by Don Pendleton is considered by many to be the seminal example but others include The Death Merchant, The Butcher, The Baroness, Nick Carter (not the musician) and too many others to list here. But the Destroyer series added quirky humor and social satire. 

The Legacy series follows the adventures of Freya and Stone -- children of Remo by different mothers (it's too involved to describe here). The pair work for what amounts to a branch office of CURE housed in New Mexico. Both are trained in a diluted form of Sinanju by Remo's biological father (again, a long story)

The book '100 Proof' by Gerald Welch is the seventh book in the series and while enjoyable it relies heavily on the mythology established in the series.

The plot involves Smirnoff -- an android with the appearance of a beautiful woman. The character is the sister creation of Mr. Gordons, an established recurring villain from the Destroyer series and a character that leans more towards science fiction than is typical for the series. 

Smirnoff, who is trained as both a sexual companion and a warrior, is currently housed in an abandoned NASA facility and coveted by VIGIL -- an ancient order with criminal intentions. McCabe and Zelensky, a pair of NASA scientists in danger of losing their jobs due to budget cuts, find and attempt to mold Smirnoff. The comic and dramatic possibilities and realized just enough to render the book enjoyably diverting.

Freya, Remo's beautiful but naive daughter, must ultimately confront the weaponized Smirnoff. Stone, her half-brother, accompanies Chiun to North Korea in a subplot involving a terminally ill family friend.

The subplot involving North Korea is witty and contain a nice twist. The main plot, while enjoyable, relies too heavily on series arcs in a book already overburdened by them.

The book's conclusion references an earlier Destroyer book (#55 Master's Challenge) which pitted Remo in ritual combat against elite warriors representing tribes of hold-outs from ancient civilizations. 

Should readers try the series based on this book?

Destroyer fans, and this writer will admit for the sake of disclosure that he is one, will love this book. More casual readers will enjoy it as well but may find the series baggage cumbersome in spots. Readers that are unfamiliar with the series may want to try the Destroyer first before reading this book.

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