The Heroin Merchants


207 pages
ISBN 0-458-98140-0





Reviewed by William Blackburn

William Blackburn is a professor of English at the University of


Victor Chan is an undercover cop in Toronto’s Chinatown. When the woman he loves is murdered in a Tong war, Chan goes after her killer — only to learn that the man responsible is one of the kingpins of the international traffic in heroin. The villain is eventually killed, although not by Chan, and, at the novel’s end, the forces of evil plot to continue their career of crime.

Mr. Phillips knows a good deal about the heroin trade; that knowledge, and the brisk pace of his plot, are the best things about this novel. But, pace aside, the plot never transcends the barren conventions of television melodrama, the psychology of the characters is shallow, and their dialogue is invariably wooden. The novel is embellished with sex and decorated with violence, but its diction and style are plain to the point of dullness. It is regrettable that the author’s obvious and extensive knowledge of his subject should have resulted in such a banal and cliché-ridden work of fiction.


Phillips, Vic, “The Heroin Merchants,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 21, 2024,