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Phillips, Vie.

Toronto, Methuen, c1984. 207pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-458-98140-0. CIP

Reviewed by Barbara Walker

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

Newspaper and television reporter Vie Phillips has used his inside knowledge in writing The Heroin Merchants, set in Chinatown, and a visit to the Far East has provided authentic background for the melodrama in the novel.

The Heroin Merchants traces the intrigue and espionage involved in Chinese secret societies, from the Monastery of Shao Lin in China to the unequalled power of the Traids, professionals in gambling, extortion, murder and narcotics in Chinatowns throughout the world.

Hero Victor Chan, a Toronto cop working undercover as a martial-arts instructor, vows vengeance after his beautiful and beloved Lin Chen-lai is killed. Her death was commissioned by the overlord of the world's heroin market-one-eyed General Tuan Shi-wen.

His friend and ally Peter Duncan, a veteran New York police detective, joins Victor in the pursuit of drug dealers in the Far East. When Lin's cousin Ruby innocently steers them to the General's top man, they fall into a trap. Both men are injured and Ruby vanishes. From Hong Kong, their pursuits lead them to New York and Toronto where Ruby, badly scarred, reappears. An attempt made on Victor's life fails, and finally death overtakes the General in Vancouver.

The ominous ending reminds us that the victories of drug dealers and traffickers are short-lived. The Heroin Merchants reveals a realistic picture of the international drug underworld and its insidious effect on human lives.

Barbara Walker, Etobicoke P.L., Etobicoke, Ont.
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