Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Curt Stone #01 - The Cave of Chinese Skeletons

Author Jack Seward wrote several non-fiction books on his expertise: the culture and language of Japan. He put this knowledge to good use in a five-book Adventure series between the years 1964 and 1969 starring private investigator and spy-for-hire Curt Stone.

Stone runs Far East Investigations, a firm based in Tokyo primarily concerned with doing background checks on Japanese companies under consideration for joint ventures with their American counterparts. Stone is a former U.S. intelligence officer and all-around badass who is an expert in the Japanese culture and language (just like the author).

In his first novel, “The Cave of Chinese Skeletons,” Stone is hired by a secret U.S. Intel agency to assist them in locating a cache of hidden treasure plundered by the Japanese during WW2 and squirreled away by a group of rogue Japanese soldiers during the final days of the war. All of the soldiers who know the location of the hidden treasure are dead, but one has a college-age daughter who may add some value to the hunt. 

The main problem with this book is that it strives for too much realism and cultural accuracy. All too often, it read like a Fodor’s Guide to Japan. Somewhere in this book was an exciting and promising adventure tale, but the author was too preoccupied with teaching the reader everything we didn’t care to know about Japan that it ended up being a hard-to-finish snooze. Maybe he was able to suppress this instinct in later volumes. I may or may not ever find out. As for this one, don’t bother.