A Girl Named Tamiko by Ronald Kirkbride. This is a case where the movie version is better than the book. Ivan Balin is a man without a country. Born in China, his father was Russian, his mother Chinese; he escaped to Japan when the communist took control of China. He works as a photographer, but dreams of immigrating to America. A racist, he hates the Japanese, and the Americans will have little to do with him. Then the world collapses around him when he meets Tamiko, a Japanese woman of high society, who sees through his racial hatred. Although a pretty good story, it doesn’t come close to The World of Susie Wong, and in truth, the 1962 movie version starring Lawrence Harvey and France Nuyen was much better than the book.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Greg Ballard #1 (1969): “The Temple Dogs Guard My Fate” by Dennis Sinclair. Ballard, a newspaperman, was once married to Yuk Kuan, the daughter of a retired Chinese general now living in Hong Kong. He had met her at the university, and they were married for six months until she caught him in bed with another woman. Returning to Hong Kong, she doesn’t see him for four years, but suddenly he’s here on assignment for his paper, and he wants to marry her again. In truth, at first he was using her as a reason to be in Hong Kong. His true mission was to penetrate China and rescue a Russian held prisoner. For Ballard is also a member of Survival, an amateur spy organization seeking to stop deadly wars in, if possible non-violent ways. Scientists who had created the atomic bomb wanted to bring something good for the evil they gave the world, and their solution was Survival. Now that he has reestablished contact with Yuk Yuan, he really wants to marry her again, but she tells him early on that her life – and fate – is guarded by the stone dogs in her garden that have no eyes. She tells him the story of the Temple Dogs early on, so we can guess what the outcome is going to be. This was really an interesting story. The Russian engineer being held prisoner has nothing to do with nuclear weapons and, in fact, he is also a member of Survival – but he doesn’t mind being a little lethal when he needs to be. The Chinese plan on using him as a plant for mass murder, when China releases poisoned water into the Hong Kong water system. With the American also on hand, they plan to add Ballard to the list of scapegoats, blaming Russia and America for the mass killings. Ballard is big and tough, but when it comes to a mercy killing, he can’t do it. The Russian takes care of the situation. At one point they discuss Susie Wong, which was neat. This was the first for four novels featuring Greg Ballard and Survival. He would write two more 1976, and the last one in 1977. The concept was neat; I mean an amateur non-violent spy organization with no government affiliation. And though Ballard may be non-violent, but many of his contacts are. They use a Pakistani towards the end, and he loves to fight and kill.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Tokyo Doll by John McPartland (1953). Ex Army Captain (field promotion) Mate Buchanan was a WWII and Korean War veteran who spent quite a bit of time in Tokyo before he was booted out because he failed to follow orders in Korea. Now living in San Francisco, the CIA and a mysterious government official contact him with a job; go back to Tokyo and find an old girlfriend’s father, who may have a doomsday virus other nations are trying to get. Arriving, and before he makes contact with Akiko Tsumi (his assignment), he meets DAC (Department of Army Civilian) Sandra Tann, a beautiful blond American singer with the Far East Radio, and falls in love with her. But more complications arrive. In order to reach Akiko’s father, he must propose marriage to Akiko. This was a tough man novel set in Tokyo just before occupation ends, and things are still a little uneasy. The author was actually a Korean War veteran, and most likely spent considerable time in Tokyo, as he wrote about Tokyo with first hand and extensive knowledge. It was also fun reading about my old Army Command, the 1st Cav, and my old unit, the 720th MPs. It’s a good story, well written, just not a lot of killing or karate (though the Tokyo Doll uses a bit of savate), but well worth the read. The author only wrote about a dozen novels, all very popular, including one I remember reading when it first was released, “The Kingdom of Johnny Cool,” also made into a notable film in the early 1960s starring Henry Silva and Elizabeth Montgomery. “Tokyo Doll” was one of the first novels to feature this type fiction set in Tokyo so soon after WWII and the Korean War. This is a very good story and would have made a good action movie at the time; there is a lot of pain before the story concludes. Some of the same characters will appear in his next novel, “Affair In Tokyo”.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Affair In Tokyo by John McPartland (1954). Army Sergeant First Class Robert E. Lee, from Mississippi joined the Army during the Korean War, where he picked up the nickname Lonesome Lee; a reporter for Stars & Stripes, he volunteered to accompany patrols, in order to get the war stories. When soldiers asked why, he told them he was lonely and wanted their company. Now he’s writing the news in Japan. One night at a club in Shimbashi he meets a red headed American girl who is reporting the news for one of the big American news outfits. They fall in love, but there’s a problem – she’s already engaged to an Army two-star general. Covering an underwater volcano erupting near Devil Islands, they are ship wrecked and obtain refuge on a canvas-covered portal of the ship with another reporter who tries to assault the girl. A fight ensues and the man falls overboard and disappeared. When they are rescued the man says Sergeant Lee tried to kill him, pushing him off their temporary raft. He dies, and Lee is in big trouble. This was a tough man novel set in Tokyo just after occupation, and things are still a little uneasy. The author was actually a Korean War veteran, and most likely spent considerable time in Tokyo, as he wrote about Tokyo with first hand and extensive knowledge. It was also fun reading about my old Army Command, the 1st Cav, and my old unit, the 720th MPs. It’s a good story, well written, just not a lot of killing or karate, but well worth the read. The author only wrote about a dozen novels, all very popular, including one I remember reading when it first was released, “The Kingdom of Johnny Cool,” also made into a notable film in the early 1960s starring Henry Silva and Elizabeth Montgomery. “Affair In Tokyo” is actually the second novel the author set in Tokyo. In 1953, his novel “Tokyo Doll” was one of the first novels to feature this type fiction set in Tokyo so soon after WWII and the Korean War. Very good story, and a lot of pain before the story concludes.
Friday, September 20, 2013
This was the original cover for The World of Susie Wong, although this is a Penguin Books 1997 edition, the 40-year anniversary of the book. The first paperback edition was from Signet in 1957.