Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Temple Dogs by Warren Murphy and Molly Cochran

Review written January, 2000
Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir used to write a series which I really enjoyed - The Destroyer Series. I collected them up till about #60 or so, but eventually lost interest when I began to focus on science fiction. The interplay between the two main characters was extremely witty and they had a lot of good martial arts action. I think they may still be writing them, but somewhere along the line Murphy teamed up with Cochran to write some other novels, among them a couple of good Arturian legend novels.
In Temple Dogs, Murphy & Cochran tell a pretty fair yarn about the conflict between a Yakuza family and a Mafia family. The plot revolves around the killing of a newlywed couple by the heir to a Mafia family, who is humiliated by being thrown out of the hotel where the wedding reception is being held. The bride's grandfather decides to avenge their murder, as the police cannot bring the murderer to justice, and is himself beaten to death by thugs. The brother of the bride, Miles Haverford, journeys to Japan to ask the help of the Yakuza chieftain, and old friend of his grandfather.
I won't get into all of the plot and events of the novel, but it did have a couple of flaws. First, Miles is a spoiled rich kid who, in the course of events, must prove himself to the members of the Yakuza before they will help him. He eventually does this through his superior character, and then is trained in the way of the Yakuza. This training goes by awfully quickly, and it's been my experience with the martial arts that proficiency is usually gained over the course of years, rather than weeks, so I was a little disappointed in the reality gap there.
Also, the heir apparent to the Yakuza, Sato, starts out very antagonistic (to say the least) to Miles, and about 2/3 of the way through the book undergoes an amazing change of heart, which carries the whole outcome of the novel. I just couldn't sustain my belief in the sudden turnabout. He was arrogant, cruel, and abusive, and suddenly becomes humble, kind and compassionate.
Despite all this, the novel was fairly entertaining, with some creative violence, good dialogue, and interesting plot twists.

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