MANTIS by Richard La Plante

MANTIS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A by-no-means-harmless, lunatic martial artist--whose role model is one of nature's odder insects--stalks and maybe even snacks on the good citizens of Philadelphia. A guilt-ridden cop and his bi-continental physician sidekick have all they can do to find the proper insecticide--in this kinky and occasionally tense first thriller. Detective William Fogarty, haunted by the accidental death of his wife and daughter while he was at the wheel, is sickened and mystified by the grisly serial murders of several Philadelphian demimondaines. Equally sickened readers, however, know right away that the women have fallen victim to a very tall, very strong man who believes himself to be on the same wavelength as a female praying mantis. The murderer has become expert in an obscure branch of karate dreamed up by monks who watched the movements of the praying mantis and turned them into self-defense skills. Meanwhile, Fogarty's special assistant is Joey Tanaka, a half-Japanese doctor, also a martial arts specialist, who crippled his older brother in a karate match and who is now every bit as consumed by guilt as Fogarty. Joey, who can't commit to his plastic surgeon girlfriend, and Fogarty, who can't get as serious as he might want to with the pretty mother of one of the recent victims, track the killer down through the karate studios of the City of Brotherly Love. Fogarty wants to handle the pinch, but Tanaka thinks he's the right man for the job since he seems to have formed a mental bond with the killer, who, in addition to being at one with the insect world, seems able to read human minds. The city's mayor does what he can to make matters worse. Creepy, crawly, and, from time to time, a bit scary, but since the killer is so outrageous, it's never really scary enough to make up for being unbelievable.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-85531-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993




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