STEROID BLUES by Richard La Plante


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 Teaming for a third time the troubled duo of Philadelphia police detective Bill Fogarty and pathologist/karate master Josef Tanaka (Leopard, 1994; Mantis, 1993), La Plante (the nonfiction Hog Fever, p. 201) adds bodybuilding, sadomasochism, and gender pharmacology to the long parade of grotesques that typify his often derivative but rarely boring thrillers. Tanaka alone is a masterpiece of pop-culture chutzpah: Quincy meets Kung Fu. More subdued is Fogarty, a teeth-gritting, psychologically scarred gumshoe who, once on the case, fights like a pit bull to get his man. The man this time is Horst Nickles, a German bodybuilding guru who slurps monkey brains and runs a barracks-like gym for Aryan supremacists, skinheads, and steroid monsters. Horst's tastes also run to ritualized bondage rape/torture/murders, one of which appears in the videotape library of a recently bludgeoned-to-death, steroid-prescribing physician- -Horst's connection. Fogarty's prime suspect is Jack Dunne, the brother of a Philly female cop who was Horst and the Bad Doctor's rape victim; Dunne, however, has disappeared into a drug-addled netherworld of psychosis and revenge, emerging only to murder, in grisly fashion, the photographer who made the videotape of his sister's rape. Fogarty, with generous assistance from Tanaka, struggles to snare Dunne before he can reach Horst--a Hobson's choice for both men since Horst is by far the more loathsome criminal (besides being a pretty funny Schwarzenegger parody: ``Arnold sold out; he's a Nazi who sold out,'' Horst announces). Matters are complicated when Tanaka's plastic-surgeon wife, Rachel Saunders, discovers that Dunne may be chemically rather than naturally masculine. La Plante's pedantry occasionally grates, and his silly romantic subplots waste valuable pages that could be devoted to combat and perversion, but he doesn't fail to deliver the goods. Sick, raunchy, and educational. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-85810-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995


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