by Denis Hughes
(available in eBook format)
Jeff Lambert told an intriguing story about a dying white man in the Congo jungle and his last words: “Chizma … people of the Sun … no white man lives to tell.” Then something about gorillas and ancient ruins. Lambert was prompted to mount an expedition.
Lambert’s party had been wiped out, except for a young woman captured by a strange tribe. Now Lambert implored Brandon to help him find her. Brandon was always ready for profitable adventure, although the ledger would forever be tainted red after this expedition.
Check out all the Rex Brandon, Jungle Hunter adventure thrillers.
Book and cover design by Rich Harvey
Produced under license from Cosmos Literary Agency
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Here we have the second in the Rex Brandon, Jungle Hunter series from Bold Venture Press, Jungle Allies. This is a 12-volume series that was published in England from 1951-52 by Curtis Warren. They were written by Denis Hughes (1917-2008) who was a prolific writer mainly of western and science-fiction works. He is largely unknown because almost nothing appeared under his name but rather under a dozen pseudonyms. This one appeared under the name Marco Garon. Full disclosure: I was sent a copy to review. This time our hero Rex, a geologist and big-game hunter, is in the Belgian Congo, returning from a successful expedition. I was surprised that he had brought along N’gambi, the tracker from the previous story. They get close to a tributary of the Congo when they make a discovery that changes their plans. Rex rescues a young man, Jeff Lambert, who is obviously in distress. He was part of an expedition that was largely wiped out by a series of unexpected events, including an elephant stampede and then being attacked by an unknown tribe. We soon get the whole story. He was part of an expedition by an anthropologist, Professor Walt C. Cochran, looking for evidence of lost civilizations in the Congo. With them was a journalist, Naomi Jensen. A dying man in the jungle has passed along a map and the phrase “Chizma… People of the Sun… no white man lives to tell.” The professor has the expedition head in the direction shown by the map, but due to various events, including a bad bridge and an elephant stampede, almost all are killed. Then when it’s just the professor, Jeff, and Naomi, they are attacked by a strange tribe that carries off Naomi and appears to have killed the professor, leaving Jeff wounded. Can Rex and N’gambi find and rescue Naomi? Especially after it seems Jeff is killed in a lion attack? Will they find this mysterious Chizma people? And who will return? This seems like many classic lost race tales set in the jungle. I guess I have to point out that this was written in the 1950s, with the attitudes of the time. They aren’t what we would have now, though certainly better than what we might have seen in the 1920s or ’30s. But you can still enjoy this work. Again, this is a short novel, and the story moves right along. The characters are rarely given any physical descriptions. I was a little surprised by the inclusion of N’gambi from the first novel, and wonder if he will become a regular character in the series. The cover art and design for this one are excellent. They were clearly trying to harken back to the Doc Savage and Tarzan paperback covers and did an excellent job. The original artwork leaves a lot to be desired, and you can see it in black and white in the back of the book. I hope they continue to do these newer covers. The plan is to get these out about every other month or so, thus it should be a couple of months before we see #3, Black Fury. I also recommend folks take a look at Bold Venture Press’s other recent reprint series, though all have been westerns. I’d like to see more action/adventure series.