KISAENG by Marc Olden


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 Writerly thriller from the author of such martial-arts epics as Gaijin, Giri, Oni, etc. Olden is master of swift, fact-crammed prose that gives a surface credibility to plots built entirely on coincidence, the philosophic structure of the Olden universe; and he is superior to just about all thriller writers for knockout characterizations and superbly whimsical dialogue whose menace and tension flatten the reader's nose to the page while snapping his fingers. Here, top Korean counterfeiter Park Song, who has some hundred-dollar plates made by the U.S. Treasury for running off untraceable bills in Asia during the Vietnam War, obsesses on very young girls whom he likes to groom as ``kisaengs'' (Korean for geisha, or ``recreational creature'') and--when he tires of them or lusts for a new sex recreation--to slash with a razor, bite viciously, and join with as or after they die. During the war Park Song met up with Manny Decker's army team and killed them but not their leader. Now Manny is a detective sergeant in the NYPD and Park Song has had Tawny DeSilva, the beauteous teenage daughter of Manny's former lover Gail, kidnapped for transport to Asia along with a cageful of nude teeners. Typical Olden description (of renegade detective Ben Dumas): ``Man had to be anxious around a dude who not only killed people but who'd once strangled a drug dealer's pit bull to death with his bare hands.'' Paced throughout are bonebreaking martial- arts nerve-paralyzers set in odd places such as the kitchen of a fancy Midtown restaurant or in an icy lake. Hard talk and eye-popping characters who cry out for film while satisfying Olden's faithful band of mainliners.

Pub Date: June 18th, 1991
ISBN: 1-55611-247-5
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Donald Fine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991


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