THE FEVER TREE by Richard Mason


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Intrigue, espionage and romance in an unsavory blend provide the ingredients for this novel of an English adventurer who has aligned himself with the Communists in a life that palls when not confronted by dangerous missions. It is difficult to believe in him, impossible to admire him, questionable as to whether one can even care what happens to him. He has been sent to India to get his orders; these orders are to inspire a young and untried Communist, never an agent, to undertake the murder of the innocent young King of Nepal. Birkett, the Englishman does some stupid things; he allows himself to indulge in a promiscuous sex life, and even is on the verge of involvement with the wife of a diplomat (whom he later suspects of playing a dual role of counter-espionage, with himself as target). Then Birkett meets Lakshmi, a lovely Indian girl, married and unhappy, and they ""discover"" true love together in a mounting- though erratic-spiral of sexual expression. When Birkett's assignment goes sour on him- and he begins to reassess his values, the threat of exposure forces them to escape- together. And they cross the roof of the continent, compassing incredible difficulties, only to be captured for a visa infringement. And there they part, Lakshmi to return reluctantly, to bear Birkett's child; Birkett to die of a bayonet wound, clutching the body of a tiny bird he had inadvertently brought to its death. It is not the kind of writing or plotting one can take too seriously. A comedown after Suz Wong.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1962
Publisher: World