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Should a Venezuelan mountain be stripped of its rich lode of iron ore by the powerful Proteus corporation, or set aside as an archaeological site? The struggle erupts into a boardroom battle for control of Proteus -- and then into primitive conflict in the Venezuelan jungle highly reminiscent of Pollock's Lair of the Fox (1989). Proteus chairman and CEO Sam Warrender goes charging down to Cerro Calvario, determined to stop Professor Arquimedeo Laya López from digging up any more ""broken pottery"" on the mountain, or at least to cut off Proteus funding for the dig. Entranced by an ancient flute excavated under his eyes, Sam abruptly changes his mind, though not the minds of Proteus's bottom-line crew, headed by company president D.W. Lee. Nor is D.W. swayed by his daughter Jacqueline, a budding filmmaker who joins Sam in siding with the dig -- and would obviously like to join him in closer quarters too. But Arqui's treacherous assistant FÉlix Rosales sells him out by insisting to the press that the flute was found elsewhere, a story the Venezuelan government (engorged with a recent transfusion of Proteus cash from D.W.) is only too eager to buy. Standing up for Arqui at a posh reception aboard D.W.'s yacht Kallisto, Sam is discredited by too many drinks and a too-helpful blonde; on his return stateside, the Proteus board dumps him in favor of D.W. But then FÉlix's uncle, an aging loose-cannon revolutionary, starts bombing Proteus sea traffic, including the Kallisto, and kidnaps Jacqueline, setting the stage for Sam and D.W. to bury the hatchet and team up with a pair of handpicked locals to rescue her and resolve the underlying cultural conflicts in some ways you could never imagine. John Wayne as grizzled multinational CEO, with a disconcertingly young partner as spunky and ineffectual as Maureen O'Hara. The rest of this vigorous, overslung saga is just windowdressing.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Pocket