LEOPARD by Richard La Plante


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An intelligent and suspenseful follow-up to Mantis (1993). The extreme violence, however, may not be to everyone's liking. Joey Tanaka, the half-Japanese, half-American forensic pathologist, is summoned to his native Japan after the sudden death of his half-brother, whom he had crippled in a karate match when they were youths. Joey has never grappled with his guilt over the incident, and the death, which is certified as the kind of congestive failure quadriplegics often suffer, only serves to reinforce his emotions. Complicating matters is the fact that his girlfriend, Rachel (who still bears the psychological scars of being abducted in the first novel), has accompanied him and that he must deal with his cousin Ken Sato's racist hatred of all things (and people) Western. When he sees the body at the funeral, however, one look tells Joey that the death was anything but natural. The deceased has, in fact, been brutally murdered. This puts Joey and his partner, detective Bill Fogarty, who has arrived from Philadelphia to help, on the trail of a most unusual gang of serial killers led by a mysterious man known as the Leopard because of his unusual full-body tattoo, which is visible only when he is sexually aroused. The search also dredges up memories of Mishima's failed coup attempt, the Red Brigade, and discloses a new xenophobic warrior society known as the Red Mist that arose from their ashes. In the end, all the main characters' demons are purged, and the Leopard, whose identity turns out to be a surprise, is destroyed. Officially, none of it ever happened. Taut and well-presented, though the linking of sex and death is a bit cliched. And Japan-bashing of the sort engaged in Crichton's Rising Sun (to which this has more than a passing affinity) comes off as racist on occasion.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1994
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Forge -- dist. by St. Martin's