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Another recent-historical adventure from Becker (The Chinese Bandit, The Last Mandarin, The Blue-Eyed Shan), who here leaves behind his favored Orient for a colorful if predictable tale of rebellion and kidnapping in 1919 Haiti. Becker's customary suit of ace characters shows up at once, on a WW I parade ground. There stalwart US Marine Lt. Robert McAllister takes a breather from girlfriend Caroline Barbour to watch her Colonel dad drape a Victoria Cross on battle-scarred British Sgt. Louis Paul Blanchard. ""Fuck your war"" spits out the cynical Blanchard. Jump a year ahead to Haiti, where McAllister leads a Marine platoon defending that island's evil regime against rebels known as the Cacos (scarlet thieves), who number among them a mysterious white Caco: Blanchard, now a mercenary. Becker peppers in his usual rich atmospherics via nifty scenes of Haitain exotica--Blanchard betting on a seamy cock. fight; the beat of voodoo drums in the night; McAllister and Caroline, who's visiting Haiti, hobnobbing with hoi polloi--and then gets to the heart of the plot: Blanchard kidnaps Caroline. He plans to take her inland to legendary rebel leader Martel, figuring that with her in rebel hands the Marines will pull their military punches. But what he doesn't plan on is the old fiction clichÉ that Becker resurrects here: as the two endure jungle life, they fall in love--their romance sparked when Caroline saves Blanchard's life by killing a rival kidnapper dear to Martel. Meanwhile, a desperate McAllister reaches rebel camp ahead of the pair and gets Martel's O.K. to kill Blanchard in revenge for the death of the second kidnapper. As Blanchard and Caroline near the camp, McAllister takes aim: he gets his man, and the girl too. Told with economy and style; but the obviousness of the plot makes this a less than compelling read, and a Becker tale not up to snuff.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1987
Publisher: Norton