The first-person narrative is told by Terry O'Malley, an adventuresome newspaper reporter that globe-trots for sensational stories. While back in his office in New York, a Major Rattray walks in and introduces himself as an officer in King's African Rifles, a British Colonial Auxiliary force. With a letter of explanation, Rattray explains to O'Malley that his fiancé went to work for a man named Lipscomb Hope, a scientist that focuses on breeding different types of animals together – like pythons and crocodiles. In letters that she writes to Rattray, she happily advises him that she will continue to work for Hope and that she will need to postpone their wedding arrangement. But it is just a front. Beneath the stamps on each envelope is a small hand-written message urging Rattray to come rescue her from the hideous experiments and the psychotic Hope. She's in real danger.
Rattray and O'Malley immediately form a plan to go to the Bahamas and rescue the young woman from the dastardly Hope. In doing so, they hire a pilot and yacht captain that can navigate the scientist's well-placed fortified encampment in Nassau. The foursome discuss the base's defenses, including robot machines that spit lead from watchtowers and hideous mutant pythons that patrol the churning waters leading into the base's spacious lagoon.
It is obvious that Smith's writing is heavily influenced by H.G. Wells' 1896 novel The Island of Doctor Moreau. But, the high-adventure adrenaline remains the same as my prior Smith reading of “Pirate's Lair”. While not a revenge yarn, this is still a hard-hitting violent affair as the group battle the monsters, bomb the camp, and ultimately attempt to rescue the vulnerable beauty in distress. Aside from some racist things that were unfortunately a product of the time, this story was just so easy to read and enjoy. It's a simple formula, but Smith seems to excel when he allows himself very little to work with. The old adage of “keep it simple stupid” works just as well in 2023 as it did in 1937. The Island Monster is a recommended read for adventure fans.