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The Destroyer series has been around since 1971. Remo Williams, Chiun, and Harold Smith were created by Warren Murphy and the late Richard Sapir. Besides these two, several other writers have made significant contributions to the books, including Molly Cochran, Will Murray, and Jim Mullaney.  They are up to 149 books, if you don’t count the movie novelization, plus a book of short stories by Destroyer fans edited by Murphy.

The series has had it’s ups and downs, notably three books after Will Murray retired from the series and before James Mullaney took over full time writing. It was obvious that the authors had not read any of the source material because they had Remo eating steak, a definite no-no. Another lull after Jim Mullaney left, twelve books that took Remo and Chiun to  a ridiculous thread that lost a lot of readers.

Don’t ask me why, but I stuck with them, wanting to bang my head against the nearest wall sometimes at the ridiculousness. Maybe I kept hoping they would get better. Obviously the publisher didn’t care. And who knows what the writer thought.

Now the reins have been taken back by Murphy and Mullaney and they have a new publisher, Tor, the fourth to date. More later.

The spark is back. Satire and humor reign throughout. A reader, if he pays any attention to what goes on in the world, will know exactly who the guest characters represent. The authors decide to pretend the last few years hadn’t actually happened, which, I guess, makes those fifteen books not canon.

Kitty Coughlin had been hired away from her cohost duties on a morning news/entertainment show at a rival network to be the news anchor for the BCN network. It was a ratings disaster almost from the start.

Then she got lucky, so to speak. She and her cameraman were aboard a plane when hijackers took over, killing most of the crew and almost crashing into the Empire State building. They made sure her cameraman got every second recorded, then bailed out.

On scene, Kitty’s ratings shot up and everyone was happy. Til they dropped again.

Then while interviewing a coal mine executive, there was a cave-in, trapping nineteen miners to a certain death. Lucky again, ratings bonanza. By now, though, Remo and Chiun were investigating and Remo manages to rescue the miners and avert disaster. Ratings fall.

When it happens a third time, an out of control oil tanker near Alaska collides with a ship Kitty is aboard, suspicions flare.

Who’s doing this? Is someone using murder and fantastic accidents to pump up Kitty’s ratings? Or is something more sinister going on?

Warren Murphy and Jim Mullaney have pumped new life into a tired old series. If you were ever a fan and quit reading because of the crap Gold Eagle was putting out, please come back. You won’t be disappointed.

Killer Ratings is the fourth in The New Destroyer’s current series. It may be the last for awhile. The initial contract with Tor was for four books. There have been no discussions about a new deal.

If you haven’t read Destroyer in years, these four books are definitely worth checking out.  If sufficient fans return and buy, Tor might be interested in more. Or a new publisher.

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