Golden Temptress (original title The Broken Gate, 1948) by Charles Grayson (Charles Wright Gray). Jack Shepherd, a grade-A heel, is a freelance writer and an adventurer in foreign lands where he hopes to make some money, legal or otherwise. He travels with two companions: Frenchman Jean-Louis Lemar, his personal valet, etc., and a beautiful Canadian singer, Peggy George. They are in Saigon on what he believes is to assure a liquor smuggler that a buyer has the money for the product. It’s all a scam, and the shipment is weapons for rebels. However, now he’s not so sure of the deal. But when Shepherd meets the buyer, the beautiful Bijou, a Eurasian, whose father was French and her mother Vietnamese, he learns she doesn’t have the money. Vietnam is under French colonialism at present, but war is threatened, and Inspector Duphaine has an idea Shepherd is up to no good. He senses what it is all about. Different angles, different sides, each ready to double-cross the others. They travel to Pnom-Penh, Cambodia in search of a treasure temple in the jungle near Angkor, the fabled Emerald Buddha of Yacodharapura. And Shepherd is as bad as the rest. In the story, Sheppard meets the King of Cambodia; in truth, the author actually hung out with the King of Cambodia when he was in that part of the world. He was well traveled, and was a Hollywood screenwriter with numerous credits, including “Battle Hymn” and “Barbarian And The Geisha”. This is a great story, though it’s hard to like any of the characters (except Peggy George). Shepherd is a heel to the very end, and then comes the final, unexpected double-cross.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Tongking! By Dan Cushman. Rocky Forbes, a soldier of fortune in the East receives an unsigned message to come to Bangkok for a job. When he arrives he finds his old nemesis, Fatto Kolski, who left him without pay once before. But Fatto promises to make it up to Rocky this time, with a big gun shipment to Chinese rebels. An American woman named Lena Halthuss worked up the deal, but it looks like she and Rocky may end up dead at the end of the journey. Cushman’s Eastern tales are all very similar. The lone hero, a ne’er do well himself, ends up saving the girl at the end, and she falling in love with him. The main villain is another white man, who is even a worse character than our hero. But in all, the tales are always fun, with fast action, and lots of dead Chinese. Dan Cushman got his start in pulp magazines, writing for JUNGLE STORIES and ADVENTURE, most featuring a tough character named Armless O’Neil.
Friday, February 14, 2014
“The Concubine” (also as “McCleary Moves In”) by Michael East (Morris West). Mike McCleary is an out of work oilman in Djakarta, about to be forced out because of some trouble he was in. But then a very rich man offers to help him. Mr. Rubensohn has a surveyor’s map showing strong possibility of an oil strike on an island, and he will pay McCleary to bring in an oil well. Rubensohn also has another prize that McCleary wants, the girl named Lisette; a beautiful Eurasian girl Rubensohn had purchased from the Peacock Pavilion in Saigon. She was a prostitute, but McCleary wanted her, even if it meant killing Rubensohn for her. This was a pretty good story about deceit and power, and a criminal undertaking by a man corrupted with power. Lisette is supposed to be a half-caste, part Tonkinese, and part French. However, she never really acts or sounds the part, and I had trouble believing she was anything but white.
Sunday, February 2, 2014
Opium Flower by Dan Cushman. Terrance J. Ryan loses his job in San Francisco, and the F.B.I. offers him another one. Go to Bangkok and trace down the opium smugglers. Typical of Cushman’s characters, Ryan is very similar to Dougherty and other characters in these tales. He’s big, tough, and knows the Orient (or jungle, or island). There is always Chinese involved, and whether we are in Bangkok or Hong Kong we recognize the same words, as if we never leave one place for another. And usually there is another white man after the same thing our hero is after. Even though he’s tough, he gets captured and beaten a lot, but this adds to the adventure. The author got his start in pulp magazines, writing jungle and South Sea stories for JUNGLE STORIES and ADVENTURE. Although he turned his hand to westerns, it is still these adventure novels that are his best. Another good story.