BROTHERS by William Goldman
Kirkus Star


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Though presented as ""the long awaited sequel to Marathon Man,"" this hectic, far-fetched thriller-stew--part Twilight Zone, part Ludlum-loony-toon--will come as a thudding disappointment to fans of Goldman's 1974 page-turner. Instead of tight, clever plotting, there is now linear padding and a cartoonish tangle; instead of visceral suspense, there's gratuitous, predictable violence; and instead of appealing hero ""Babe"" Levy (who has only a cameo role here), there's Babe's older brother Scylla--a laconic super-killer who remains firmly unengaging as he moves from one hand-to-hand combat to the next. True, Scylla was supposedly killed through Marathon Man. But he actually survived, we're now told. And after years of recuperation and plastic surgery, he's back in action for the CIA-like ""Division."" His mission? To prevent World War III by murdering two creepy US scientists, each of whom has developed a new secret super-weapon that should never see the light of day. The mayhem doesn't end there, however--because when Scylla's eccentric boss Perkins is gorily killed, it becomes clear that there's a third super-weapon still to be neutralized. . .and a blond super-assassin to track down. So Scylla follows a corny clue to London--where he mutilates the assassin, exposes the mastermind behind the international mayhem, and (too late to prevent a worldwide terrorism rampage) learns the nature of ""magical"" secret weapon #3. Even by sci-fi/fantasy standards, Goldman's futuristic super-weapons are silly, unconvincing stuff. Even by run-of-the-mill thriller standards, the bloody, kinky action is ragged and arbitrary--despite some scene-by-scene zip and a labored attempt to furnish a final ironic twist. Worst of all, Goldman seems uncommitted to the storytelling here, tongue half in cheek, as he cutely alludes to Hitchcock and genre clichÉs along the way. As always, Goldman's slick delivery--gimmicky narration, arch dialogue, offbeat character touches--provides fairly painless reading. This time, however, what lies beneath that glossy surface is Goldman manquÉ, without the modest impact of Control or Heat--let alone the memorable punch of Marathon Man.

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 1986
Publisher: Warner