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[Read by Robin Sachs]
Three young women have been brutally assaulted and murdered in the city of Philadelphia. Lieutenant William Fogarty, a time-toughened cop hardened by personal tragedy, is shocked by the brutality of the crimes. His only lead comes from medical examiner Josef Tanaka. Half Japanese and half American, Tanaka, a skilled practitioner of the martial arts, claims to recognize the method used in the attacks: a karate strike known as nukite, or spear hand. Fogarty has nowhere else to turn.
An unlikely combination, Fogarty and Tanaka, forced together by circumstance and neither completely trusting the other, conduct a desperate hunt, trawling the city streets of Philadelphia and into the dangerous underbelly of the killing arts.
Pursuing the Mantis, a creature who uses the flesh of his victims in a sadistic, macabre ritual of self-purification, Fogarty and Tanaka endanger the lives of those closest to them as they inch perilously close to the precipice of their own worst fears and weaknesses.
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Richard La Plante has been writing professionally since 1987 and has published eight crime fiction novels and three memoirs. With degrees in psychology and literature, he combines his longtime study of Japanese martial arts with his interest in metaphysics to create spine-tingling thrillers. He also loves Harley-Davidsons and will be reissuing his two motorcycle memoirs. He lives in the mountains of Ojai, California, and has recently founded an independent publishing company, Escargot Books, where he blogs regularly.
A by-no-means-harmless, lunatic martial artist--whose role model is one of nature's odder insects--stalks and maybe even snacks on the good citizens of Philadelphia. A guilt-ridden cop and his bi-continental physician sidekick have all they can do to find the proper insecticide--in this kinky and occasionally tense first thriller. Detective William Fogarty, haunted by the accidental death of his wife and daughter while he was at the wheel, is sickened and mystified by the grisly serial murders of several Philadelphian demimondaines. Equally sickened readers, however, know right away that the women have fallen victim to a very tall, very strong man who believes himself to be on the same wavelength as a female praying mantis. The murderer has become expert in an obscure branch of karate dreamed up by monks who watched the movements of the praying mantis and turned them into self-defense skills. Meanwhile, Fogarty's special assistant is Joey Tanaka, a half-Japanese doctor, also a martial arts specialist, who crippled his older brother in a karate match and who is now every bit as consumed by guilt as Fogarty. Joey, who can't commit to his plastic surgeon girlfriend, and Fogarty, who can't get as serious as he might want to with the pretty mother of one of the recent victims, track the killer down through the karate studios of the City of Brotherly Love. Fogarty wants to handle the pinch, but Tanaka thinks he's the right man for the job since he seems to have formed a mental bond with the killer, who, in addition to being at one with the insect world, seems able to read human minds. The city's mayor does what he can to make matters worse. Creepy, crawly, and, from time to time, a bit scary, but since the killer is so outrageous, it's never really scary enough to make up for being unbelievable. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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