by James Rollin
One of the most endearing allures of the adventure pulps was their exotic locations. Having been written in the midst of the 1930s, there were still many mysterious places remaining on the globe in those days, the use of such locales was perfect for firing the imaginations of the readers. In the intervening years, mankind, and its ever intrusive machines, spy satellites, etc.etc. has poked its nose in every dark and deep shadow of the world and thus filled in most the blank spots marked uncharted.
That there still remains a few isolated pockets of terra firma where man has never trod, at least civilized man, gives the impetus and weight to this new thriller by James Rollins.
It is set in the middle of one the world’s last, honest-to-goodness, unexplored jungles; the Brazilian Amazon. Much like Michael Crichton’s
Nathan Rand’s father disappeared on an expedition to find this lost tribe. Now, four years later, a member of that doomed party, who had only one arm, emerges from the jungle, dying, but with two arms. Very soon both American and foreign pharmaceutical companies begin making plans to re-enter that green, deadly world in hopes of discovering the ultimate fate of the lost expedition. They also seek to find the miraculous restorative secrets of the jungle people. Medicines that can regrow limbs would make drug companies ten times richer then they already are.
The guessing game inherent in any such novel is trying to figure out who will survive and who will not. The book’s finale, the revelation of the secret behind the lost valley and its wondrous healing plants is really well handled and I didn’t feel cheated at all. There’s a truly nasty, sadistic villain who has a psycho girlfriend twistedly into making shrinking heads out of the people she kills, if the rest of all this wasn’t enough to convince you, AMAZONIA is one hell of a great pulp ride. I’ll certainly be hunting up more of James Rollins work in the future.