The Destroyer (novel series)

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The Destroyer
AuthorWarren Murphy
Richard Sapir
CountryUnited States
GenreAdventure fiction
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback), e-book

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.[1] Over 150 novels have been published. The main characters were adapted to film in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985).[2]


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.[3] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

In 2017 Gene Donovan Press began publishing new books in the series (starting with Bully Pulpit) written by author R.J. Carter. #151 and #152 show a writing credit of "Warren Murphy with R.J. Carter" while #153 shows "R.J. Carter with Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir".[4]


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 not only 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.[citation needed]

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 The Destroyer #120-121 and #128 resolve later developments more fully with his origins.[citation needed]


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 to satires of famous real people. Notable examples include:

  • Mr. Gordons, a shapeshifting NASA-created android with limited emotional capabilities.
  • Cartoonist Uncle Sam Beasley, revived from cryogenic sleep and armed with an animatronic eye and hand.
  • Super-soldier Elizu Roote, a cyborg with electricity-based superpowers.
  • Friend, an artificial intelligence dedicated to making as much money as possible.
  • Nuihc ("Chiun" reversed) the Renegade, Chiun's first pupil and nephew. Once trained, Nuihc deserted his duty of providing for the village of Sinanju to seek personal profit. This forced Chiun out of retirement to train Remo Williams.
  • Jeremiah Purcell (a.k.a. the Dutchman), Nuihc's protege and a strong psychic and pyrokinetic.
  • Kali, the Hindu goddess who is linked to Remo.
  • The Master, a Chinese vampire.
  • Wu Ming Shi (a.k.a. Dr. Fu Manchu)
  • Sagwa, the bodyguard and right-hand man of Wu Ming Shi, a pastiche of martial artist Bruce Lee
  • Rasputin, an undead Russian monk.
  • Dr. Judith White, a scientist specializing in genetic engineering who changed herself into a weretiger.
  • The Krahsheevah, a Russian soldier with the ability to walk through walls and transmit his physical form by converting into energy and traveling on phone lines, as well as other unique powers.
  • Computer AI In "Profit Motive" a computer AI is programmed to generate profit. After the programmer tries to restrict the AI's activities it decides it can make more profit without the interference. It accesses the internet and orders a hit which it also pays for online. Without the programmer the AI really starts to cause problems, which Remo and Chiun are ordered to stop.

Given Remo and Chiun's talents as assassins, few of their enemies have survived their initial encounter with them, but some of the above have managed to escape and return in subsequent stories.

Other media[edit]


In 1985, The Destroyer concept was adapted for the theatrical movie Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, starring Fred Ward as Williams, Joel Grey as Chiun and Wilford Brimley as Harold W. Smith. 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 2014 Sony Pictures hired director Shane Black, a fan of the book series, to begin work on a script by Jim Uhls and The Destroyer series co-author James Mullaney.[5] In a 2018 interview Black said the project was "still very much in play", and he planned to work on the script with Fred Dekker and Jim Mullaney. He praised Mullaney's books in the series as equal to those of Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir's.[6]


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".[7] 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.

Comic books[edit]

There have been several Destroyer comic book and magazine series published by various companies including Marvel.[8]

Audio book[edit]

Books 95–122 in the series were released in audiobook format by GraphicAudio.[9]

Books 3, 12 and 19 in the series were also released in audiobook format. These were produced by Speaking Volumes, LLC.

Assassin's Playoff was published by Speaking Volumes (ISBN 978-1-935138-02-0), number 20 in the list of audiobook format. Not sure if the three book numbers are incorrect or if there was a fourth release.

Series listing[edit]

  1. Created, The Destroyer (1971)
  2. Death Check (1972)
  3. Chinese Puzzle (1972)
  4. Mafia Fix (1972)
  5. Dr. Quake (1972)
  6. Death Therapy (1972)
  7. Union Bust (1973)
  8. Summit Chase (1973)
  9. Murder's Shield (1973)
  10. Terror Squad (1973)
  11. Kill or CURE (1973)
  12. Slave Safari (1973)
  13. Acid Rock (1973)
  14. Judgment Day (1974)
  15. Murder Ward (1974)
  16. Oil Slick (1974)
  17. Last War Dance (1974)
  18. Funny Money (1975)
  19. Holy Terror (1975)
  20. Assassin's Play-Off
  21. Deadly Seeds
  22. Brain Drain
  23. Child's Play
  24. King's Curse
  25. Sweet Dreams
  26. In Enemy Hands
  27. The Last Temple
  28. Ship of Death
  29. The Final Death
  30. Mugger Blood
  31. The Head Men
  32. Killer Chromosomes
  33. Voodoo Die
  34. Chained Reaction
  35. Last Call
  36. Power Play
  37. Bottom Line
  38. Bay City Blast
  39. Missing Link
  40. Dangerous Games
  41. Firing Line
  42. Timber Line
  43. Midnight Man
  44. Balance of Power
  45. Spoils of War
  46. Next of Kin
  47. Dying Space
  48. Profit Motive
  49. Skin Deep
  50. Killing Time
  51. Shock Value
  52. Fool's Gold
  53. Time Trial
  54. Last Drop
  55. Master's Challenge
  56. Encounter Group
  57. Date With Death
  58. Total Recall
  59. The Arms of Kali
  60. The End of the Game
  61. Lords of the Earth
  62. The Seventh Stone
  63. The Sky Is Falling
  64. The Last Alchemist
  65. Lost Yesterday
  66. Sue Me
  67. Look Into My Eyes
  68. An Old-Fashioned War
  69. Blood Ties
  70. The Eleventh Hour
  71. Return Engagement
  72. Sole Survivor
  73. Line of Succession
  74. Walking Wounded
  75. Rain of Terror
  76. The Final Crusade
  77. Coin of the Realm
  78. Blue Smoke And Mirrors
  79. Shooting Schedule
  80. Death Sentence
  81. Hostile Takeover
  82. Survival Course
  83. Skull Duggery
  84. Ground Zero
  85. Blood Lust
  86. Arabian Nightmare
  87. Mob Psychology
  88. The Ultimate Death
  89. Dark Horse
  90. Ghost in the Machine
  91. Cold Warrior
  92. The Last Dragon
  93. Terminal Transmission
  94. Feeding Frenzy
  95. High Priestess
  96. Infernal Revenue
  97. Identity Crisis
  98. Target of Opportunity
  99. The Color of Fear
  100. Last Rites
  101. Bidding War
  102. Unite and Conquer
  103. Engines Of Destruction
  104. Angry White Mailmen
  105. Scorched Earth
  106. White Water
  107. Feast or Famine
  108. Bamboo Dragon
  109. American Obsession
  110. Never Say Die
  111. Prophet of Doom
  112. Brain Storm
  113. The Empire Dreams
  114. Failing Marks
  115. Misfortune Teller
  116. The Final Reel
  117. Deadly Genes
  118. Killer Watts
  119. Fade To Black
  120. The Last Monarch
  121. A Pound of Prevention
  122. Syndication Rites
  123. Disloyal Opposition
  124. By Eminent Domain
  125. The Wrong Stuff
  126. Air Raid
  127. Market Force
  128. The End of the Beginning
  129. Father To Son
  130. Waste Not, Want Not
  131. Unnatural Selection
  132. Wolf's Bane
  133. Troubled Waters
  134. Bloody Tourists
  135. Political Pressure
  136. Unpopular Science
  137. Industrial Evolution
  138. No Contest
  139. Dream Thing
  140. Dark Ages
  141. Frightening Strikes
  142. Mindblower
  143. Bad Dog
  144. Holy Mother
  145. Dragon Bones
  146. Choke Hold
  147. Guardian Angel
  148. Dead Reckoning
  149. Killer Ratings
  150. The End of the World
  151. Bully Pulpit
  152. Continental Divide
  153. Monumental Terror
  • The Assassin's Handbook (1983) features a novella The Day Remo Died. It was republished in 1985 as Inside Sinanju.
  • Remo: The Adventure Begins... (1985): a novelization of the script by Christopher Wood
  • The Best of the Destroyer (May 1, 2007): a collection of three early Destroyer books: Chinese Puzzle, Slave Safari, and Assassin's Playoff.

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".

  1. Guardian Angel (May 2007)
  2. Choke Hold (October 2007)
  3. Dead Reckoning (April 2008)
  4. Killer Ratings (July 2008)

The series also includes several novellas, now available online from many of the different e-reader companies:

  1. The Day Remo Died (a reissue of the story from The Assassin's Handbook)
  2. Savage Song (March 2012)
  3. Number Two (October 2012)

Even though both of the original creators are deceased, new books in the series are still being published:

150. The End of the World (December 5, 2012)
151. Bully Pulpit (February 18, 2016)
152. Continental Divide (January 2018)
153. Monumental Terror (September 2019)

See also[edit]


External links[edit]