Sunday, October 27, 2013

Shadow Warriors 3: Ninja Nightmare

Shadow Warriors 3: Ninja Nightmare
by Joseph Rosenberger
Dell Publishing 1988

We're thrown into the action right from the beginning, as ninja master Scott McKenna botches a hit on some Chicago gang leaders.  He's assisted by a wrongfully fired Chicago cop and a shopkeeper whose family was murdered after he refused to pay protection.  Weirdly, these two are working for pay, while one of the famously altruistic ninja is doing it pro bono.  Evidently ninjas murder people for some kind of vague sense of Buddhist oneness or something, which explains why he isn't bothered with killing a cop and blacking out half of Chicago (causing untold rioting and mayhem) in the process.

This is Rosenberger so let's get ready to ... plan!  In the second failed assassination attempt, McKenna lies in wait hidden amongst roofing insulation for a day before and after the hit.  If this isn't exciting enough, we're taken through every detail of the planning, walkthrough, and execution.

The martial arts sequences aren't quite as silly as the Mace series, though with more mysticism.  McKenna is able to bring his consciousness to a state in which he can see the future, which doesn't seem to enter into things other than to increase his confidence.  He's also able to bring his breathing into a state called "Stroking the Death Bird", which I'm sure is not a euphemism.

This heightened sense of awareness and altered state of consciousness serves McKenna well in the conclusion, in which he dispatches an army of gangsters using the ancient art of lobbing grenades and C4 at everybody until everybody is dead.

The action scenes are serviceable, though perhaps not as manic as some of his other writing.  Only one enemy looked stupid when he died, and there isn't a detailed medical report on every wound dealt out.

Let's see how Rosenberger does with the touchy subject of race relations.  At the very least the lingo is outdated.  Nobody was a jive turkey in 1988, and I doubt any gangster's been named Jelly Roll since World War II.  McKenna's little gang is appropriately multi-racial for the time period, though points off for having to mention every time a new character is "a black".

There is the small matter of McKenna running around in blackface through about half of the novel.  I'm willing to give some allowances.  After all, he is a master of disguise, and he did have a valid tactical reason for the subterfuge.  However, McKenna's almost mystical talents have their limitations:
"you don't sound black.  Your voice is too young, too educated"
 Go stroke your Death Bird, Rosenberger.

1 comment:

  1. Kudos on reviewing Rosenberger's stuff - I can't get enough of it. God help me.

    Great blog - keep up the great work.