Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Golden Temptress

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.

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