A WEST QUARTET by Morris West


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Four mostly pulpy adventures--none published before in US hardcover--by the bestselling author of The Devil's Advocate and Shoes of the Fisherman. First and best is The Naked Country (written under the ""Michael East"" pseudonym), a densely sketched morality adventure in which Lance Dillon, 37, takes a belated crack at being a smalltime Australian rancher. . . and comes upon a bunch of husky, naked myalls (Stone Age blacks) killing his sole, prize bull. Insane with anger, he rides at them with a bullwhip, gets speared through the back of his shoulder and rides off half-dead. Mundaru, the myall leader, knows he must track down Dillon and kill him quickly to avoid police and white justice. The tracking, and Dillon's evasion by foot, is well handled, as are the mind of Mundaru (forever fearful of psychic forces who may be observing him from ""the dreamtime"") and the redemption of Dillon's adulterous wife. The other tales, however, are less distinctive. Gallows on the Sand is straight adventure: widower history-lecturer Renn Lundigan goes to Australia's Great Barrier Reef to seek a sunken galleon loaded with gold coins--followed by malicious gambler Manny Mannix; Renn finds naturalist Patricia Mitchell near death from a stonefish bite, saves her, locates the wreck. . . but Manny shows up, takes over, kills Renn's sidekick Johnny Akimoto, then is himself killed by Renn. The Concubine (an N.A.L. 1975 paperback) features out-of-work oil man Mike McCreary in Djakarta--who gets a lucrative contract to drill for oil on remote Karang Sharo from wealthy speculator Rubensohn; but when Rubensohn gives his beautiful mistress Lisette to the Sultan of Karang as a concubine, McCreary arranges her escape the very night that oil comes in and a volcano blows its top. And Kundu is a poor man's Heart of Darkness in New Guinea with a former Nazi doctor in a new life as a coffee plantation owner who steals the semen of a native sorcerer and tries to become the Red God of the tribe. . . but is killed during the big Pig Sacrifice. So: only one worthwhile piece out of four, but that one is almost worth the price of admission.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1981
Publisher: Morrow