Country United States of America
|Genre Adventure fiction|
|Media type Print (hardcover and paperback), e-book|
Books Created - the Destroyer, Death Check, Chinese Puzzle, Mafia Fix, Dr Quake
The Destroyer is a series of paperback novels about a U.S. government operative named Remo Williams, originally by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir. The first novel was published in 1971, although the manuscript was completed on June 25, 1963. The main characters were adapted to film in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985).
The series was initially co-authored by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, with each writing a portion of each book separately. In the late 1970s, the relationship between the two became tense, and Sapir withdrew. In the early 1980s, Murphy began using ghostwriters to help with the series, among them his wife Molly Cochran. In the mid-1980s, Sapir returned to participating in the series.
In the late 1980s, Will Murray took over the sole responsibility of writing the series, having written several previous books with either Murphy or Sapir. After Sapir's death, Murray continued the series until the late 1990s. When Murray left after novel #107, three novels were written by interim ghostwriters (#108 & #110 by Mike Newton; #109 by Alan Philipson). Jim Mullaney took over for novels #111-#131, followed by two more by Newton. Tim Somheil was ghostwriter from #134 through #145.
The last Gold Eagle Publishing book, Dragon Bones, was released in October 2006. On July 11, 2006, it was announced that The Destroyer would be moving to Tor Books. Somheil was replaced by Mullaney, who co-wrote the new novels with Warren Murphy. The first Tor novel, The New Destroyer: Guardian Angel, was published in May 2007, accompanied by a re-release of three older novels collected as The Best of the Destroyer. The second new novel, Choke Hold, was published October 31, followed by Dead Reckoning in April 2008 and Killer Ratings on July 28 of that year.
In 2002 Murphy started his own publishing house, Ballybunion, as a vehicle for Destroyer spin-off books. Ballybunion, now known as Destroyer Books, has reprinted The Assassin's Handbook, as well as the original works Destroyer World: The Assassin's Handbook II , Destroyer World: The Movie That Never Was (a screenplay he and Richard Sapir wrote for a Destroyer movie that was never optioned), The Way of the Assassin (the wisdom of Chiun), and New Blood, a collection of short stories written by fans of the series.
In 2011 the rights to most of The Destroyer novels reverted to Warren Murphy. They are being released as e-books. Murphy is also reissuing many of the older titles in print format.
The series' hero is Remo Williams, a Newark cop framed for a crime and sentenced to death. His death is faked by the government so he can be trained as an assassin for CURE, a secret organization set up by President Kennedy to defend the country by working outside the law. The head of CURE is Harold W. Smith, a man selected by the President for his brilliant mind but also because of his integrity. Smith was a former law instructor at Yale and served in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II.
Remo's trainer and father-figure is Chiun, a deadly assassin and the last Master of Sinanju. It has also emerged that Remo is the Avatar of Shiva, as prophesied in the legends of Sinanju. In 1985, a revision of The Assassin's Handbook was published as Inside Sinanju, a companion book to the series. This is narrated primarily in the first person, from Chiun's perspective. It covers anecdotes as well as information on the various villains and history of the series.
The series' basic formula had taken shape by about the third book, but many elements have been introduced into later stories about the early days of Remo's training. In the first book, the word Sinanju is not used at all to describe the martial arts that Chiun teaches Remo. Zen, karate, aikido and judo are used instead. Remo has many trainers for other aspects of being an undercover operative; he is taught to use different types of firearms, and trained in close-quarters assassination. He smokes tobacco, drinks alcohol, and eats red meat, all activities that would later prove harmful or impossible as his body was changed by the harsh Sinanju training regimen. Remo uses a gun to shoot somebody, although it is only to wound, and all his actual kills are hand-to-hand. He does make a conscious choice not to use weapons, after a fight in which he kills a man who had been pointing a gun at him. He realizes that Chiun never carried a gun and is over 70, whereas MacCleary, who had told him to always carry a gun, is dead. The retelling of Remo's origin in the story "The Day Remo Died" in The Assassin's Handbook and in Destroyer #120-121 resolve later developments more fully with his origins.
Remo and Chiun have encountered a number of colorful villains, both human and superhuman. Their foes have run the gamut of pulp fiction, from mobsters to mad scientists and satires of famous real-life people. Notable examples include:
Given their talents as assassins, few of their enemies have survived their initial encounter with Remo and Chiun, but some of the above have managed to escape and return in subsequent stories.
In 1985, The Destroyer concept was adapted for the theatrical movie Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, starring Fred Ward as Williams and Joel Grey as Chiun. The film shows the first meeting of Remo and Chiun, and centers on a corrupt weapons manufacturer who is selling guns to the US Army.
In 1988, an American television pilot, Remo Williams, aired but did not lead to a series. It was a follow-up to the first movie incorporating footage from the movie in the opening credits. It starred Jeffrey Meek as Williams, Roddy McDowall as Chiun, and Stephen Elliott as Harold W. Smith and is loosely based on the novella "The Day Remo Died". Set one year after the events of the feature film, the pilot episode (titled "The Prophecy") was directed by Christian I. Nyby II and the teleplay written by Steven Hensley and J. Miyoko Hensley. The episode featured guest stars Carmen Argenziano, Judy Landers, and Andy Romano. Craig Safan, who scored the movie, returned to provide the music for the pilot; his score was later released by Intrada Records (paired with Safan's score for the TV movie Mission Of The Shark: The Saga Of The U.S.S. Indianapolis).
The television pilot had not been seen since 1988 until the Encore cable television channel began airing it in the summer of 2009.
Books 95–122 in the series were released in audiobook format by GraphicAudio.
In 2007, Tor Books published four books in the series; due to contractual issues, the titles were changed to "The New Destroyer," although the characters were unchanged. The numbering also restarted, so the first book is called "The New Destroyer #1," rather than "Destroyer #146."
- Guardian Angel (May 2007)
- Choke Hold (October 2007)
- Dead Reckoning (April 2008)
- Killer Ratings (July 2008)
The series also includes several novellas, now available online from many of the different e-reader companies:
- The Day Remo Died (a reissue of the story from The Assassin's Handbook)
- Savage Song (March 2012)
- Number Two (October 2012)
Even though both of the original creators are deceased, new books in the series are still being published: