In Madison, Wisconsin, a dairy farmer drops dead of a heart attack. A few days later, a small-town citizen in Iowa is killed in a three-car pile-up. Few men know the connection between these deaths, and only one is willing to talk to Harker, an investigative reporter with sources on the inside of every agency in Washington. His source at the CIA is named Trotman, and he knows things that men cannot discuss in the light of day. The two dead men were CIA agents, defectors from Communist states living under assumed names. Trotman tells Harker not out of civic duty, but because the reporter will be one of the next to die.
Getting the story of this terrifying conspiracy down in print is Harker’s only chance for survival. He must work quickly to stay alive, but that’s no problem. Reporters like Harker love deadlines.
Marc Olden (1933–2003) was the author of forty mystery and suspense novels. Born in Baltimore, he began writing while working in New York as a Broadway publicist. His first book, Angela Davis (1973), was a nonfiction study of the controversial Black Panther. In 1973 he also published Narc, under the name Robert Hawke, beginning a hard-boiled nine-book series about a federal narcotics agent.
A year later, Black Samurai introduced Robert Sand, a martial arts expert who becomes the first non-Japanese student of a samurai master. Based on Olden’s own interest in martial arts, which led him to the advanced ranks of karate and aikido, the novel spawned a successful eight-book series. Olden continued writing for the next three decades, often drawing on his fascination with Japanese culture and history.
The US Army is out of Vietnam, but not all of its boys made it home. Thousands remain unaccounted for, and as the years go on, their families hold out hope that somewhere in the jungle, their boys survive. Harker, an investigative reporter, has uncovered a sickening scheme designed to prey on that misguided hope. A group of con men is going to the homes of missing soldiers, telling families that their GI is trapped in a secret Vietnamese prison, and can return home for a small ransom. When the family forks over the money, they disappear. Harker has exposed the con, and now he wants to punish those responsible.
The mastermind is an unscrupulous security contractor named D. Z. Vale, who backs up his despicable scheme with a private army and an unlimited cache of ammunition. Harker has his typewriter, and it’s the only weapon he’ll need.
The Delgado cocaine operation is more than a business. It’s an empire, supplied by a direct line to the coca plants of South America. Delgado’s soldiers are not common hoods, but a cadre of teenage boys chosen for their loyalty—and beauty. But now one of his lovers has failed him, allowing crack narcotics agent John Bolt to build a case against the kingpin. Delgado will handle his legal defense the same way he rules his evil empire: with murder.
There are nine names on the list Delgado gives the killer. Eight are witnesses against him, whose deaths will assure Delgado’s freedom. The ninth is Bolt’s, who will die for turning Delgado’s boy. But Bolt serves justice as ruthlessly as Delgado serves evil, and the dealer will find this narc has a kill list of his own.
Finally, Harker has a break in the nuclear story. There is a vast conspiracy inside the government to keep the dangers of nuclear energy from the public, and now he has a source on the inside. Anna Alexander, an employee at a nuclear firm, has documents that will blow the industry wide open—if she can make it to her rendezvous with Harker alive. Her employers are poisoning her with plutonium, and when she calls Harker, she is nearly dead from radiation sickness. By the time he makes it to Nevada, she’s gone.
The car wreck looks like an accident, but the papers she was bringing him are nowhere to be found. They killed Anna to keep her from talking to the press—so just imagine what they’ll do to the reporter.
Out for kicks on a dull summer night, a few Puerto Rican boys wander Central Park. Drunk, high, and bored they hack at an old oak tree, and they don’t notice the white-haired couple appear behind them. Murmuring in an ancient tongue, the couple attacks the boys to save the oak. By the time the police arrive, two boys have been slashed to death, and their right hands cut from their bodies.
Rupert and Rowena Comfort are druids, keepers of a religion that is older than civilization itself. For thousands of years they have lived in secret in the wilds of England, until the day that five Americans happen on their village and steal the book of shadows—a witch’s tome passed down by the druids for millennia. Rupert and Rowena will kill to save the book, starting with a spell whose recipe calls for the blood from two severed hands.
On leave in Tokyo, American GI Robert Sand is shot trying to protect an old man from a quartet of drunk American soldiers. As Sand passes out, the old man springs on his tormenters, beating them senseless with frail, wrinkled fists. He is Master Konuma, keeper of the ancient secrets of the samurai, and Sand is about to become his newest pupil. Over the next seven years, the American learns martial arts, swordplay, and stealth, becoming not just the first black man to ever take the oath of the samurai, but the strongest fighter Konuma has ever trained.
One night, two dozen terrorists ambush the dojo, slaughtering Konuma and his students as the first step in a terrifying assault on world peace. Though he cannot save his sensei, Sand escapes with his life and a gnawing hunger for vengeance. All he has is his sword, but his sword is all he needs.
In the dojo, Manny Decker learned that training, focus, and cold discipline could make a man more dangerous than any weapon. His skill with his fists was useful in the US Marines, and served him even better afterwards, as a cop walking a tough New York beat. Since he became a detective, Decker hasn’t found much use for his hand-to-hand skills, but his mental toughness has proved invaluable as he navigates the narrow line of an Internal Affairs investigator. Keeping an eye on other cops, he has found, means risking his life inside and outside the precinct house.
Decker also knows that a mastery of karate can be used for evil as well as good. Investigating a corrupt security company, Decker finds himself on the trail of a psychopathic killer who can snap a windpipe with one chop of his palm. Only karate can stop him, and when the final confrontation occurs, karate is all Decker will have.
The Chinese diplomat walks into the revolving door just a step ahead of the grenade. Samurai Robert Sand is too late to save him from the blast, but as the smoke clears he is hot on the grenade-tosser’s heels. In Central Park, Sand disarms the killer and knocks him unconscious. His name is Ivan Vanich, and he is posing as a Soviet operative. His real employer is a power-mad millionaire, who arranged the hit as part of a plot to upend a Russo-Chinese trading contract and seize the profits for himself. The diplomat in the revolving door was only the first to die.
On special orders from an ex-president, Sand races to avert catastrophe. His hunt for answers takes him to a sprawling English castle, where the samurai comes face to face with the man who would let millions die for the sake of gold.