Hell’s Gate (Review)

Hell’s Gate (Review)

ill Schutt, an author and Zoologist, has created a very Indiana Jonesy hero with his Captain R. J. MacCready, a special operative in World War Two who is sent in when special forces have failed. If you like your action mysterious, hot and kinda on the weird side, you’ll love his writing. His Hell’s Gate was one I picked up on disk to listen on a long vacation drive. I enjoyed it but my wife drifted off to look at passing scenery. That’s kinda how it always plays with Crichton-esh books.

Anyway, this one has an interesting concept. Two German submarines (long supersubs) have rendezvoused off the Brazilian coast – the allies only know this fact because one of them has run aground way up in the headwaters of an Amazonian jungle. What’s it doing up there? A special forces op with ten men goes totally missing. Whats going on?

It turns out that this is a unified operation by the Germans and Japanese. At their hidden secret base, the Germans are providing two rocket planes, craft that can go sub-orbital to anywhere in the world to drop a payload. And the Japanese? They are providing the enhanced biological weapons that they were working on during the war in Manchuria. Laying down launch rails on the old roads of a lost Amazonian city, plan to lay waste to the allies, using a special bacteria created by a specifies of large vampire bats, semi-sentient, who dwell in the cliffs near this site.

See. Kinda like Indian Jones.

So there are evil Nazi commanders and unsympathetic Japanese doctors and a likable couple (a disgraced scientist and his native wife who speaks fluent Brookinese), and monsters and lots of bugs and giant turtles and I don’t know what else. It is, I’d have to say, a very busy book.

If I only had one complaint, it’s that it took a while to wind down. After the total chaotic kill-fest that destroys the base and sees one rocketplane get away (I’ll not spoil where it goes, but it does make an appearance in the first chapter of the book), there was a long, long chapter telling about the hero’s return to normal life, his good deeds, his museum work, all that. To me, it went on a bit too long (like an hour on the disk).

So yes, if Nazi-fighting, two-fisted zoologists are  your thing, you might want to check this one out. Or get it on audio for a long, long drive.