HIGH ADVENTURE by Donald E. Westlake


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Screwball adventure farce set against Mayan Indians and fake temples in Belize (formerly British Honduras), with the farce generally downplayed in favor of characterization. Fat, glossy, life-gobbling Innocent St. Michael, a high official in Belize, has sold pot-runner Kirby Galway a backwoods tract which he assures him will be sheer heaven as a cattle ranch. Kirby discovers that his ranch is an overgrown swamp during the rainy season, and smooth-baked clay the other six months. So he sets himself up in a scare for peddling newly made ""ancient"" temple artifacts to U.S. museums and other gringo patsies, and even has a friendly Mayan tribe build a phony temple in a hillside for him as the cherry on the illusion. Helping him are Manny Cruz--a small-time Spanish/ Indian whom Kirby supplies with a Cuisinart, gasoline-powered generator, two composting toilets, a washing machine, TV, Betamax, three air conditioners, lamps and so on--and a Mayan tribe led by two fluently English. speaking Indians, Tommy and Luz. Then down from Greenwich Village come two handholding supercamp gays, Gerry and Alan, pretending to be antiques dealers--but they're really outriders for a Trend magazine expos on fake artifacts. Gerry and Alan are a riot observed with terrible exactitude, and easily steal the show. Also down from the States is Valerie Greene, an archaeologist whose UCLA computer has told her that a lost Mayan site must be locatable exactly on the site where Kirby has set up his mock temple. Valerie escapes being murdered in the bush and hides out with Kirby's Indians, who revere her as Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Meanwhile, Guatemalan guerrillas skirmish the nearby border. Upshot: mix well and pour out a typical Westlake cocktail--with-joint, no more memorable than any other cocktail or joint, but whose tone is halfway between a chuckle and a giggle, with some ""high"" comic backgrounds.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1985
Publisher: Mysterious Press--dist. by Farrar, Straus & Giroux