RETURN FARE by Jean M. Kolar


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Nothing could be hotter and more exotic than the dry season in the Cameroons. Add sex, mumbo-jumbo, incipient insanity and you have something to please and shock everybody. Here we have Bellien, a brutish young cocoa agent, lusting for the wife of a Czech trader, Monsieur Karel, and she capitulates one dusky night when husband is in the bush. Husband finds out and takes revenge -- not like a man, but like a worm -- by being dishonorable in a business deal. His wife runs away with Bellien while Karel is racing to buy return fare to Europe. When he learns of his wife's departure he guns his truck through the jungle (in such a frenzy that the motor boys must forego lunch), crashes a bridge barrier and almost drowns, barely eludes man-eating ants -- is almost gone when the good natives find him. Back at the village he hides out with a missionary and his native mistress and slowly goes berserk. The only thing that saves him is a ticket back to France. There are a few isolated passages of descriptive beauty but the characters command little sympathy. The author's theme: Africa eludes and destroys the white man; and visions like ""Baroque cumuli were gathering in the west"" and ""He stopped over the natives lying on the steps and got into his car"" -- seem to prove his point.

Publisher: Macmillan