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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Set primarily on the South China Sea during the late 1920s, this wildly entertaining -- and, at times, downright strange -- novel by the late actor Marlon Brando and the late film director Donald Cammell is an archetypal pirate adventure story replete with ill-tempered seamen, exotic femme fatales, perilous intrigues, and plenty of ill-gotten booty.
Anatole "Annie" Doultry is a 51-year-old Scottish-American ship captain serving a six-month sentence in a Hong Kong jail for alleged gun-running. After spending the majority of his incarceration betting on cockroach races with the other prisoners -- and watching them feast on the rancid flesh of his feet at night -- Doultry ("a large man and terribly thick of thew") is released and eventually meets up with a beautiful master-thief named Madame Lai Choi San. The head of a secret crime organization called the Hall of Righteous Heroes of the Yellow Banner, the seductive Madame Lai soon recruits Doultry for a seemingly impossible heist involving a British-owned cargo ship rumored to be carrying tons of silver bullion from Manila to Hong Kong.
While the obvious selling point of this novel is the marquee names of the two deceased authors, the story deserves to stand on its own merits. Narrated by a character as complicated and enigmatic as Brando and Cammell themselves, the tale unfolds from a distinctive (and sometimes perverse) world view that includes, among other things, racism and sodomy. A must-read for fans of Brando -- and Cammell -- and for readers who enjoy outlandish adventures, Fan Tan is decidedly out of the ordinary. Paul Goat Allen