Eric Lustbader is the bestselling author of 'Second Skin, 'The Kaisho, 'The Miko and 'White Ninja', all starring Nicholas Linnear. He graduated from Columbia University in 1969. He spent fifteen years in the music industry, including working for both Elektra and CBS Records, and writing for 'Cash Box' magazine. He has also been a teacher. He lives with his wife in Southampton, New York.
For almost two-thirds of this hefty novel, readers are briskly moved in timeflashbacks to 1968-69and in spaceFrance, New York, Indochinaand it's rather entertaining. New York trial lawyer Chris Haye is called to France to bring home the beheaded body of his brother Terry. Almost simultaneously, NYPD detective Steve Guarda's brother, a priest, is beheaded in Connecticut. Guarda's trail leads to France also; there Chris has learned that Terry was involved in running drugs from Indochina. Tied to both murders is an elegant Frenchman, M. Milhaud, who is determined to obtain a legendary Indochinese totem, a trio of weapons called the Forest of Swords, that would give him power over the drug lords in Cambodia, Burma and Thailand. Intimately involved in the intrigue is Soutane Sirik, half-French, half-Khmer, and totally anguished by her memories. Readers will enjoy the cinematic quick-cutting among a big cast, almost all of whom have two identities. But when Lustbader ( Zero ; The Ninja ) succumbs to windy philosophizing, the foolish heroics and cardboard characterization become irritating. A gory, melodramatic ending is overlong. $400,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Feb.)