KAGO by Christopher Wood


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A rough-and-tumble adventure set in the remote mountains of Papua New Guinea, by the author of A Dove Against Death (1983) and other action novels. High in the rugged limestone mountains on the border with Indonesia live the Neri tribe and Ruth Blackthorn, a determined British ethnologist who is taking detailed notes on brutal tribal customs, and who's made friends with a single Neri youth, Situmi. Situmi leads her into a hallowed mountain cave where she discovers a find she relishes for its anthropological significance rather than its monetary worth: the preserved remains of tribal ancestors who gorged on large diamonds before lying down to die. Meanwhile, back in Australia, former rugby player Rod Murray gets word that his beloved brother Bruce has died on a speculating adventure in this same remote area. But when his coffin arrives, strangers try to steal it, and after a car chase, the coffin breaks open to reveal not Bruce but some leathery remains--one of the Neri ancestors. Bruce, it turns out, has also discovered the mountain cache and stumbled, near death, out of the mountains into Indonesian territory, bearing the corpse and its swallowed diamonds, thereby alerting a whole passel of unsavory types that there's a fortune to be made in these remote hills. Rod makes the dangerous trek into the mountains on foot, in search of Bruce. And a helicopter brings in Rutger, a mercenary in the hire of an Australian mobster, and his pretty companion Koll, plus a handful of Indonesian marines--all in pursuit of the diamonds. Tribal war is brewing meanwhile between the Neri and the nearby Tanyei; when Rod is found by the Neri and brought along on the war party as a sort of mascot, he and Situmi become friends, get captured and narrowly escape. Miss Blackthorn then teams up with Rod and Situmi and, after a brutal gun battle, they prevent the Marines from absconding with the diamond-laden ancestors. As Rod, Situmi, Miss Blackthorn and Koll (who's fallen in love-at-first-sight with Rod) try to get to safety, they must for a delegation of adversaries--including Rutger in a helicopter, an assortment of cannibalistic tribes, the Australian mobster who pretends to be a friend, and a hungry crocodile. Wood achieves a density of violence, a cinematic fast pace and little else in this vigorous shoot-'em-up fantasy.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1986
Publisher: Henry Holt