The Forbidden Land by Dan Cushman. Ray Blades had been in Africa too long, always looking for that big stake so he could return to Manitoba, Canada with money in his pockets. When a beautiful white woman mistakes him for someone else, he hires out to take her to find her missing father and husband. Deep in the jungle a madman is holding them prisoner. He is Herr Lutgow, a gorilla-sized man with the strength to go with his appearance. Blades must enter the compound, rescue the prisoners, and escape with them into the jungle, even if he has to kill Lutgow first. This was another great adventure by Dan Cushman, even if it is the same plot and characters, just different names and situations. Cushman makes them come alive, and the characters are memorable regardless of their names.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
The Half-Caste by Dan Cushman. Frisco Dougherty is back after JEWEL OF THE JAVA SEA in another tale of island intrigue. While in Bandjermasin, South Borneo, on the Java Sea, he is approached by Captain Jaske to assist in getting his boat released from impound. He has important passengers to transport, and the only ones who can allow the boat’s release is Dougherty’s old pals, the Chinese gang, the Wash’eng. But something is not on the up and up. The local headman, Wu has some interest in the passengers, and what they are after. They include a handsome sportsman, a priest, and a beautiful woman. The woman claims to be the daughter of a famous paleontologist killed during the Japanese invasion, and buried in the jungle. But something is fishy about the whole deal. If readers will recall, Dougherty took a young woman to marry at the end of JEWEL OF THE JAVA SEA, and he does mention a ex wife, a princess, back in the States, with their two sons, but he’s unattached again and back in the Java Sea area. It’s good because the woman in this case also has a mix of island blood and Oriental, maybe Tonkenese. It looks like Dougherty may be killed by the Wach’eng this time, if not by the girl or one of her partners, for none will stop at anything to get what’s really inside the coffin they retrieve. But the ending has a nice twist, and one that gave me a good laugh.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Savage Interlude by Dan Cushman. Jim Crawford, Botamba, and the Hammer, from Naked Ebony, are back in this tale of the African Congo. A photographer is murdered in Cairo because of something he brought back from the Congo, and Crawford trailing his girlfriend, a dancer in one of the backstreet dives, tells him the object must be somewhere in his baggage at the hotel where he was staying under a fake name. Breaking in, he finds only a metal spearhead and undeveloped film, either might be the clue to the mystery. But then a white woman shows up, claiming to be the photographer’s wife, and she tags along with him and the Hammer as they track the dead man’s trail backwards to start from the beginning, in hopes of discovering the secret worth millions. This is another good yarn, but with the same formula as all Cushman’s stories. And, as usual, Crawford ends of with the girl he plans to spend the rest of his life with – or until the next adventure, and another girl. We never learn what becomes of these beautiful women, either.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
The Chinese Assassin by Anthony Grey. In this well-written intrigue, and twisting plot involving American CIA, Russian KGB, and Chinese agents, a British Sinologist named Richard Scholfield is approached by a Chinese in 1976 claiming to be the lone survivor of a plane crash in Mongolia in 1971. Calling himself Yang, he leaves 8 Folios detailing a deep plot against Mao Tse Tong’s chief rival in 1971. Lin Pao was purported to be on the plane when an explosive brought it down. But the plot is much thicker than what is on the surface, and Scholfield is being manipulated by the CIA, KGB, and Chinese agents. At the core of the plot is the planned assassination of China’s leader, Mao Tse Tong.
Although on first sight this has the appearance of a men’s action novel of the period, but it is more closely related to the Bourne series. Schofield studied in China’s universities in the 1950s, and speaks Chinese fluently, as well as Japanese. He is a 4th degree black belt in Kyoku-Shinkai karate, founded by the Korean, Mas Oyama. Even the cover features the beautiful Chinese agent, Tan Sui-ling. It would help draw readers’ attention. We do see Scholfield in a bit of action, but this novel is far more than what it appears.
The author was a British reporter in China, and held prisoner for over two years as a hostage in exchange for Chinese prisoners in Hong Kong. He was familiar with China and its people, and the novel has a touch of reality as we follow the plot from Britain to America, and finally to China, where the plot unfolds deep underground where Mao Tse-Tong lies weakened, waiting for death. Top notch.
Friday, April 4, 2014
James Michener wrote the novel, but his wife, Mari Yoriko Sabusawa, deserves a lot of the credit; she did the research that brought the novel to life. I was stationed in Korea in the late 1950s when marriages between American servicemen and local women were still strongly discouraged. Still, many young soldiers found the women to their liking, and it was impossible to stop marriages. The novel actually takes place in Japan in 1952, when military men could marry young Japanese girls, but not take them back to America with them. The story follows Major Gruver and one of his men, Airman Joe Kelly. Kelly marries a young Japanese girl against Major Gruver’s wishes, but he doesn’t interfere with the wedding. This causes problems with the commanding general, the father of the girl Gruver plans on marrying. It causes a rift in Gruver’s own wedding plans to the general’s daughter. After meeting a beautiful Japanese woman, he knows now what has driven young Kelly to risk his freedom.
The novel was a real treat, and captured the time perfectly. Major Gruver, the son of a 4-Star General, is on the fast track to the general ranks himself. He jeopardizes that career when he meets Hana Ogi, a beautiful Japanese dancer, and before he knows it, he’s madly in love with the actress. Both face rejections, however. He from the military, and she from her career on the stage. WWII was still in the memory of both nations, and the idea of young G.I.s marrying Japanese women was strongly discouraged on both sides.
James Michener was a veteran of that war, and spent considerable time in the region. His story reflects the attitude Americans still had for our recent enemy, and the thought of young American boys bringing home a Japanese bride was looked down upon. It was an attitude that would take years to soften, and in the meantime Japanese wives continued coming to the US. This tale is a bittersweet romance between two such couples, and how it played out. Although the novel is more detailed than the movie, I prefer the ending in the movie to the book. But no matter which way you view the story it will leave a lasting memory in your heart. Highly recommended.