Monday 9 November 2020


By Louis Masterson
Corgi, 1972
Original published in 1967

Morgan Kane was on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico. He’d been ordered to sail to Yucatan and bring back a team of geologists who’d become involved in a spot of bother. A piece of cake, thought Kane, who was enjoying the voyage. But when Bahama Jack Delaney, a buccaneering adventurer, came on board with his story of massacre, arson, and terrorism on the peninsula, Kane began to think again. The geologists, said Delaney, were in a highly dangerous position, eighty miles inland, surrounded by bloodthirsty Indians. Kane knew there was nothing for it but to go in and get them out…

With a messy ending to his last assignment, Kane is sent far away whilst his superiors try to save his job as a U.S. Marshal. Kane might enjoy life at sea but the jungle is something else, something he is not comfortable with. It’s not just geologists he has to save, he also finds himself escorting nuns and a padre. Finding them is fairly easy but getting out again with them is another story as the Uxmals want to kill them all. 

The jungle scenes are extremely well described. You can feel the heat, hear the insects and screams of vicious animals. Kane is out of his depth and his fear is palpable. These kinds of emotions I’ve always thought are one of the strengths of Louis Masterson’s writing. Also, the feelings of nausea Kane experiences every time he has to kill come over strongly.

Even though this book is part of a western series it’s easy to forget this and imagine you’re reading a jungle adventure, a gripping tale packed with many exciting, tense, action scenes. As Kane’s party gets whittled down one by one, you’ll soon be wondering how many will make it to safety.

When the survivors make it make to the ship, Masterson has a surprising twist waiting in store. An ending that ties the book up neatly and brutally.

Perhaps not one of the best Kane books for me as I prefer those set in the more traditional landscapes of the American West, but it still provided a couple of hours of great entertainment.

Louis Masterson is a pseudonym for Norwegian author Kjell Hallbing.

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