This is Part Two of our in depth look at Espy. Part One is here. Remember, if for some reason anyone is looking to avoid spoilers for this obscure Japanese novel, please stop now. Part One is more or less spoiler free.
As the story opens in Tokyo, “Good Guy” is sent on assignment to New York. He hops on a plane and, within paragraphs, has detected a bomb that mysteriously made its way into his luggage. Because Good Guy is more of a reader of minds than a mover of objects, this is a problem. He fights with the bomb for the duration of the flight, much to the confusion of the stewardesses who wonder why he is coated with sweat and gritting his teeth. Finally, he wrings out his last bit of power (get used to this, as he wrings out power an average of once per twenty pages) and defuses the bomb. When he arrives in New York, the bomb has inexplicably vanished, teleported in and out by a mysterious bad person. This is the kind of story we’re dealing with here.
Another fun indication of story content comes at the airport. Our hero is psychically contacted by the lovely Maria, another espy. She says he’s handsome, he peeps at her and compliments her naked form, and she telepathically slaps him. I don’t fully understand the mechanics of all of this, but we’ll take what comes to us here at Two Dudes. Anyway, everyone takes off to Long Island; that’s the last we’ll hear of boring yuppy havens again, because Yoshio (getting tired of writing Good Guy) and Maria are promptly shipped off to Turkey.
The flight to Turkey is eventful. Yoshio and Maria get it on without delay, but the afterglow is interrupted by Spanish fighter planes. Spain, still under Franco, demands that they land in Barcelona. Here, they are detained by members of the Spanish military that are in thrall to the mysterious, but very psychically powerful, bad guy. Rescue soon comes in the form of Basque separatists. They are motivated by freedom, revenge, and whatnot and are naturally quite magnificent. Yoshio comments on this magnificence throughout the book.
Once in Turkey, the fun really begins. A plot is afoot to assassinate the Soviet Premiere, apparently because he is on good terms with the US President and close to ending the Cold War. Yoshio’s merry band has grown and together they wander through Istanbul looking for clues. They bump into various spies and suspicious characters, a crucial source is killed by an ingenious long range sniper, and Maria vanishes. As they go in search of Maria, we reach what is probably the best part of the book.
Yoshio and his partner enter an opium den, because this is Turkey and of course there are opium dens in the back rooms of cafes. The cafe is full of Nazi war criminals, hit men, and Mafia members, but Yoshio has some secret thing that lets him in. (I was hazy on how that went down.) They slip past the opium addicts in the first secret room, and find themselves in an even more secret room. There is a stage here, where a drugged girl dances and morally questionable rich men watch. The head bad guy says something like, “So nice to see you Mr. Good Guy” and chains him to a chair in the front row. Who should emerge now, but Maria! (Dramatic and threatening music.) Maria is naturally naked, because there is no way that these men would tolerate a clothed woman on the stage, and she is soon joined by a prodigiously endowed black man. People are drugged out, drums are beating, the black man approaches Maria, Yoshio closes his eyes so he won’t see what happens to his beloved (that was fast) Maria, but it turns out he’s in an electric chair, so the bad guy can shock Yoshio whenever eye closing occurs, and this is just about the most terrible situation ever.
And then, Espy‘s crowning moment. Yoshio wrings out the last ounce of his power (again), telepathically grabs the black man who is now ravishing Maria in merciless fashion, and psychically BREAKS THE MAN’S WANG IN TWO.
Wow. I was ready to stop reading books forever, knowing that nothing will ever top this. I didn’t even know that such a thing was possible. But the story continues. In the ensuing chaos, everyone is rescued but Yoshio. He talks with the bad guy during the previously mentioned scene where Abdullah is flogged, then is tortured, put in a small cage, shipped out into the black sea, and dropped in. Fortunately, his boss arrives from Tokyo in a submarine, so Yoshio is fished out of the water. Good thing that sub was just hanging around, but I guess when one’s boss has telepathy, one is never really out of reach.
Off to Germany with them, to foil the plot. A number of strange things happen. Yoshio can now teleport himself, and Maria can make people spontaneously combust. Torment can have its rewards, apparently. We also learn that silver somehow turns off psychic power, as Yoshio is whisked away to a secret room with no door by a be-silvered woman. No worries here, though, since Maria can start her rival on fire and Yoshio can flee the conflagration. There is another scene involving the obligatory high rolling casino, where the bad guys again say too much. Now they are set up for the assassination attempt, which is almost as amazing as the Turkish opium den.
As everyone watches the Premiere give a dramatic speech, the espies frantically search for bad people. Suddenly, a missing espy appears in the sky and plummets to the earth. While everyone is watching this, a shot rings out and hits the Premiere. The espies have failed. Yoshio traces the bullet’s path, teleports his way to the assassin, and lands on top of the getaway driver. The other espies do what they must. Yoshio deduces that the assassin waited in that spot for the doomed man to appear in midair, then as soon as the bodyguards moved a bit, shot through the sudden opening into the Premiere’s now unprotected back. Yoshio then attempts to teleport with the assassin, but ends up leaving the poor man’s head behind. Sorry, assassin.
Now, for the weakness in this evil plot. Apparently, the assassin had ties to the CIA, which would be discovered upon his capture. (He was, of course, unaware that he was being set up.) The world would find out that someone with vague CIA connections had knocked off the Soviet leader, the world would immediately veer off the road to peace that it was on, and the evil group of super spies would somehow profit from all of this. We know this because the be-silvered woman’s twin sister revealed all in the high rolling casino. Why? I’m not certain. But back to the plot. Besides being convoluted, what would have happened had the bodyguards not moved? That’s a waste of an espy decoy right there. And what would happen if, however implausibly, a forewarned Russian were to wear a protective, bullet-proof vest? No head shots for Soviet leaders? As luck would have it, this is exactly what happens! The Premiere stands up, shaken and with a bruised back, but otherwise unharmed. The bad guys fail, the Russian lives, and the assassin that was to have touched off World War III (or something) lost his head in a teleportation void. Doh.
However! The head bad guy is still at large! We now reach my second favorite part of the book. Everyone rushes back to the casino, because this was a bad guy stronghold. The bad guys have all fled, but what should the espies find, but a portable nuclear reactor in the basement! Now, I’m not certain how our readers feel about this, but I would give a nuclear reactor a pretty wide berth. (I’m speaking as an Idaho native who is quite comfortable with the world’s first nuclear plant next door.) Our espies are made of sterner stuff, however, and their first response is, “Hey, let’s power this sucker up!” And so they BLINDLY SET ABOUT TURNING ON A NUCLEAR REACTOR. Right there in the room. “Hmm, let’s see what this switch does!” Holy cow. This activates some mysterious thing that sends Yoshio and Maria to South Africa, fortunately without blowing up West Berlin.
Awaiting them is a receiving station for a weather satellite. This turns out to have been a secret base, but the bad guys have fled. As they are giving up, Yoshio feels the probing psychic finger of The Bad Guy. After some consultation, they decide that he is on a formerly manned capsule that the Africans sent up some time ago. Yoshio promptly teleports himself out into space, into this capsule. (Not considering, I suppose, that it might be a vacuum or something. Fortunately, it is not.)
This is where the book takes a serious turn towards Weirdsville. Yoshio meets the disembodied presence of The Bad Guy, who reveals that he’s not really all that bad, he’s just observing and occasionally testing humanity. He also mentions that some really powerful beings used to live on Earth, but their continent sank into the ocean, and that The Bad Guy personally tested a charismatic religious leader who wandered into the desert to fast for forty days, oh, about two thousand years ago. Yoshio realizes that The Bad Guy is none other than … Satan.
They go on and on about the nature of evil and why people do bad things to each other. Finally, Satan says, “Well, it’s been nice talking, but I’m taking off. I’ll be testing you again later.” Yoshio is stuck on the capsule. Bad news for him, he is apparently too weak to teleport back to the Earth. (Should have thought about that before racing off to confront Satan, huh?) He can still talk to Maria though, who he loves desperately, so we stagger towards a (Satan-less) touching conclusion. Literally. His last request is to be allowed to, er, psychically fondle her. And does, as he once again wrings out his last ounce of power. In this world, teleporting yourself is one thing, but grabbing a telepathic handful is no problem at all. It’s a good thing for Yoshio that it is, too, (and that he’s apparently very good at it) because as Maria becomes, umm, excited by this virtual finger, her “burn people who surprise me” instinct suddenly kicks in. Yoshio is consumed by physic sexyflames, his own “get me out of danger now!” teleportation instinct returns, and he is suddenly (on fire) back in South Africa.
On this happy note, with Yoshio wrapped in bandages but very much in love, the espies realizing that their ultimate adversary is The Devil, and the book comes to a satisfying close.
Rating: I have no idea. This one is beyond my metaphoric powers.