And why do Wang Bin's henchmen try to kill Stratton when he starts asking a few questions? Wang Bin's rebellious daughter, the gorgeous Kangmei, is eager to help: she overheard her lather and uncle arguing. Soon the two of them are on the run, fleeing from cobras, torturers, and other Wang Bin specials--escaping thanks to Stratton's secret guerrilla-warfare expertise. He's a Vietnam vet, haunted by civilian-killings during penetration missions into China. And by the time that Stratton makes it alive to Hong Kong, he has caught on to what's going on: Wang Bin, in danger of political execution, is going to use his brother's body in a fake suicide.
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So the finale here features a series of ghoulish cemetery confrontations--as Stratton seeks revenge on the ruthless Wang Bin. Montalbano and Hiaassen Powder Burn, Trap Line bog things down a bit with Stratton's Vietnam guilts--a stale thriller-element by now, and one that seems out-of-place amid the Buchanesque folderol. At the other extreme, the least serious moments here verge dangerously on Fu Manchu-vian cartoon. Still, a solid, lively thriller for the most part--with an efficient if familiar central plot, action that's scenic and varied, and loads of wry, unromanticized China atmosphere.
Review Posted Online: Sept.
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