Review: The Destroyer: Savage Song by Warren Murphy

As I’ve mentioned a few times in posts and in the comments, I’m a huge fan of Warren Murphy and the late Richard Sapir’s Destroyer series. I have all of them, and I’m not sure how many I’ve read but it’s got to be around sixty. Maybe more.

If you judge a book by its cover, one couldn’t blame you for thinking that the Destroyer series was just one more series in the endless parade of men’s adventure novels that came out in the wake of the success of Don Pendleton’s Executioner series. And there is little doubt that that’s why the Destroyer was published in the first place. The first volume, Created, The Destroyer, was written in 1963 but didn’t find a home until after Pendleton’s Mack Bolan saga began selling like crazy.

But the series is much more than ass-kicking and revenge. The books are filled with humor (often dark), social commentary, and, best of all, the amazing, and often amazingly funny, chemistry between the two indelible leads, Remo Williams and the Korean master of Sinanju, Chiun.

Burned by the publishing industry, Warren Murphy decided to take matters into his own hands. He’s acquired the rights to the first fifty Destroyer novels and has released them for Kindle at a mere 99¢. And he’s also written his first solo Destroyer adventure since (I think) the 70’s with this new novella, Savage Song.

To get the criticisms out of the way, it does read somewhat like Mr. Murphy is shaking the rust off a bit. Parts creak here and there, some of it goes over the top even for this series, and there is atypically an unresolved plot element (although, to be fair, that might be a setup for a future volume).

But the good stuff? Yeah, it’s great. Chiun has decided he’s in love with Lady Gaga Madam Googoo, casting aside such previous loves as Barbra Streisand and Connie Chung Cheetah Ching. So he’s thrilled when he and Remo are assigned by Harold W. Smith and CURE to assure her safety and find the culprits after she’s survived a few assassination attempts.

All of the elements that make this series so much fun are here. We get Remo and Chiun in fine form. We get the references to current affairs and the celebrities of the moment, which reminds me that someone really ought to annotate the whole series so that these references don’t get lost as time passes and for younger readers. Never a fan of any politician, Murphy skewers corrupt congressmen who send photos of their schlongs out over the Internet and the current occupant of the White House. (The series has mocked every president (never named) from the Nixon era forward, but Murphy really doesn’t like the current one.)

And we get something that is part of what makes this series great–the upsetting of expectations. In a mad world, you’ll never guess who the only sane one is.

All of this packed into a tight little novella that you’ll smoke through in an evening. Welcome back, Remo and Chiun. Welcome back, Warren Murphy.

More, please.