Monday, January 23, 2012

Lord Of Lust

One thing in writer Marc Olden's favor is that he creates terrific villains. And if there's one thing fans of adventure fiction know, it's that a hero is generally only as interesting as his adversary.

Of course, the Black Samurai is pretty darned interesting in his own right. Robert Sand, a black man who also happens to be the only Westerner to successfully complete Japanese samurai training, is truly his own man, but partners with former POTUS William Baron Clarke, a Southerner with immense wealth and power, to fight for justice against those who can't help themselves.

In Olden's THE DEADLY PEARL, Signet's fourth Black Samurai novel of 1974, Sand's target is Pearl, a nasty New York City pimp who traffics in underage girls--kidnapping them, addicting them to smack, and selling them overseas as sex slaves. Pearl is also a formidable warrior who trains daily with a professional fencer and fancies an elaborate sword cane as his choice of weapon.

Sand becomes involved to help a friend, Secret Service agent Gray Foster, whose 15-year-old daughter Rochelle is missing. It doesn't take the Black Samurai long to learn that Pearl has her. It's just a matter of getting to the man and getting him to talk. Which ain't easy, because Pearl is as smart as he is mean, and he's surrounded by an army--in particular, a giant martial artist named Chink.

Olden, who also wrote the Narc series, is a master of urban adventure fiction. His New York City is truly alive, festered with pushers and pimps so thick you can practically smell the evil. Robert Sand is a great character, but his supporting cast is also rich, and Olden's sense of time and place make you believe in the harsh reality of the novel's story.

I haven't yet read all the Black Samurai books, but I give the series my highest recommendation.

2 comments:

Joe Kenney said...

Yeah man, I think this series is pretty great, too. I've only read #6, which I reviwed over on my blog the other year. (http://glorioustrash.blogspot.com/2010/08/black-samurai-6-warlock.html) It was definitely pulpy, with "leopard men" and etc, but yet still had that urban edge. (It was also the novel that served as the loose basis for the Jim Kelly film.)

Narc is great, too. I think Olden's one of the best men's adventure writers, but I've noticed that he spends a bit too much time in the heads of his characters, giving his books more of a cerebral edge than the genre needs. Also, I've noticed that his finales come off as very rushed...like he builds it all up over the course of the novel and then knocks it all down in two pages or so at the end.

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