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 Fresh from their 1902 victory in the Boer War, the British, represented by High Commissioner Lord Alfred Milner, have intercepted ú800,000 headed out of Transvaal for the exiled president, Paul Kruger. But Milner is convinced that gold is only a fraction of a much larger treasure, and he orders his private political secretary and right-hand man, John Buchan, to go in search of it. Armed only with an oracular clue wrung out of a dying native--the gold is ``after the waterful''--Buchan, joined by a wily Boer named Schalk Minnaar, sets off into the bush--and straight into a boy's-adventure bonanza of confrontations, abductions, tortures, and hairbreadth escapes, alternating with stiff-upper-lip exchanges with the Huns, the kaffirs, and the occasional Iberian Portugoose racing him for Kruger's gold. Since Buchan will turn out to be the pioneering author of the Richard Hannay espionage tales (The Thirty-Nine Steps, etc.), journalist/second-novelist Jones (in his US debut) takes every opportunity to draw parallels between his own work and the Hannay saga--and to point them out in the obligatory, but hypertrophied, footnotes and editorial apparatus. The result is several hours' worth of refreshing retro exoticism, with nary a trace of political correctness, that will remind older adventure fans of Gunga Din and younger ones of Indiana Jones. Go easy on those footnotes, though, unless you're as besotted with Buchan as Jones himself.

Pub Date: Feb. 6th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-15071-7
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1996