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The Destroyer: Acid Rock Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir (1973, Corgi)


Over the past 30 years, a variety of authors have pumped out over 130 novels in the seemingly endless Destroyer series, which manages to combine a thinly veiled “Kung Fu” knock-off with Mickey Spillane style ultra-violence and bigotry. Apart from its Eastern edge, the entire series is very much in keeping with the rest of the ’70s/80s genre of lone wolf vigilantes (The Executioner, The Expeditor, The Adjusters, etc) employed by shadowy government agencies to do the extra-judicial work that namby-pamby politicians and the liberal courts won’t allow the police to carry out. Over the years the daring duo of Remo Williams, a former cop unfairly sent to the death chamber only to be reborn as a government killer, and Master Chuin, a North Korean assassin whose only loves are his deadly work, daytime soap operas and picking on Remo, have taken on just about everyone from the Mafioso to angry white postal workers.


Although the series has a certain goofy charm, particularly in the hammy relationship between master and apprentice, its poisonous joy in having its protagonists stomp on and revile hippies, black militants, unionists, etc tends to leave a bad taste in the mouth. Any suspense that the novels try to generate is also lost as Remo and Chuin’s super skills mean that they turn any adversary into a gory mess before the reader is able to make it to the next page.


This time around the duo are sent by the President and their bosses at CURE to serve as bodyguards for a spoilt hippy commerce student who has fallen out with daddy dearest and threatened to spill the beans on his questionable business practices. Poppa is none too pleased and in turn has issued an open contract on her, meaning that anyone who can confirm a hit on his not so dutiful daughter will receive a million dollar bonus.


Unfortunately for Chuin and Remo, this witness is no ordinary socialite stoolie, but a stock market obsessed dilettante who combines her passion for profits with profligate drug use and the conquest of rock deities. No flamboyant front man is bigger or more desirable than Maggot (lead singer of The Dead Meat Lice), whose amazing lyrics include regaling festival crowds with such pearls as “Dirt waits in


the fields”. Determined to lay the aforementioned singer, the super groupie winds up dragging her protectors across the country as she hitchhikes to a massive outdoor rock festival. Upon arrival Chuin finds himself stunned by the volume and Remo is forced to kill a bunch of Altamont-style bikers after knocking over their bikes, before dealing with some cunningly disguised killers. The descriptions of the Alice Cooper-style shock rock and overall festival scene evince numerous chuckles, as does the corny ending in which Dirt and the lusty lady finally find true love through their mutual love of the futures market.


Acid Rock is probably the most enjoyable of the ’70s section of the Destroyer novels, if only because the authors’ piss-taking is generally quite funny rather than just prickly and hateful.


“The Dead Meat Lice crawled and tumbled onto the stage. There was a drummer who doubled as the beater of the gong. In a round enclosure from stage right rose a piano, organ and clavichord, with another Dead Meat Louse seated in the middle. A frowzy-headed man with two wind instruments pulled himself onstage. The crowd cheered the arrival of all three Lice.


Maggot waved his arm and they sang. They sang what Remo made out to be ‘Bedred, mother- racking, tortoise, humpanny, rah, rah, humpanny, mother- racking, bedstead, rackluck.’ ‘Bitchen’ screamed Vickie Stoner in Remo’s ear, and then the tower to their left gave a wiggle with an explosive pop, then another pop, and people were falling from it and it was coming down like a sledgehammer right where Vickie Stoner was jumping up and down, screaming with everyone else.


The crowd would hamper free movement so Remo grabbed Vickie like a loaf of bread and drove his way through bodies to what he felt would be


the safest place. The tower came whoomphing down, eight tons of it, crushing a 10-yard-wide stretch of people with a heavy dull splat. Remo and Vickie were safe. They were at the base of the tower where it had been blown off its foundations head high, just where a big man with a scarred face had been casually moving his hands around.


‘Bedred, mother-racking, tortoise humpanny, rah, rah, rah, humpanny, bedstead rackluck.’ ‘They’re going on’ someone shrieked ‘They’re going on.’ ‘Dead Meat Lice go on and on. Rule forever Dead Meat Lice’ yelled Maggot, and this was met by cheers blanketing the moans of the victims of the tower. ‘Rule forever, Dead Meat Lice’ yelled Vickie Stoner.” (pages 55-56)


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