Friday, April 6, 2018

River of Death

“River of Death” was a late-career release for Scottish adventure writer Alistair Maclean. It was his 27th book among the fiction and non-fiction contributions. By the book's release in 1981, Maclean had made it big, writing numerous international bestsellers and a few screenplays. Unfortunately, the author would pass away just six-years later at the age of 64 (strokes fueled by alcohol abuse).

Instead of frigid Arctic Circle atmosphere, “River of Death” is set in the scorching jungles of South America. This exotic adventure is prefaced with a peek at Germany's downfall in 1945. Two Nazi SS officers, Manteuffel and Spaatz, are stealing a fortune in Grecian treasure from peaceful monks. After loading the goods and burning the temples, Manteuffel leaves Spaatz high and dry, escaping in a submarine with the riches to parts unknown. Spaatz swears vengeance on the traitor.


Fast-forward twenty years and a multimillionaire named Smith hires an adventurer named Hamilton to escort him to the famed Lost City deep in the Brazilian rain forest. There's a host of last names beginning with H that really keeps the confusion at an all-time high – Hamilton, Hiller, Haller and Heffner. It's uncanny. Essentially, we all know who Smith really is and the reader would be a fool to think the Lost City holds anything other than Manteuffel, monkeys and monk money. Maclean isn't fooling anyone. The adventure includes cannibal tribes, an anaconda attack and a rip-roar ride on high-speed rapids. While all of this sounds exciting, it's as flat as Taylor Swift's chest. The obvious reveal and fizzled finale left me closing the book and pondering how to recoup four hours. “River of Death” is the river of boredom.