Monday, November 29, 2004

Another Review of Red Jungle by Terry D'Auray

The Agony Column is one of my favorite reads every week. What follows is an excellent review of Kent Harrington's RED JUNGLE.....

By Terry D'Auray
D-Ray knows the way! I love knowing what's next-to-come in publisher's line-ups and spend a lot of time scouring the usual sources for upcoming books, looking closely, of course, for books from my favorite authors. Mostly, when I find them (we're never talking in the singular here), they go on my "to-buy" list, along with a smile and a sense of anticipation. But some future releases, very few, generate an embarrassing salivating response where anticipation morphs into near trembling fervor. I call them "be still my heart" books, and I stumbled across one as I was reading the November issue of 'Firsts" Magazine. Right there on page 63, in the ad for Dennis McMillan Publications, is the announcement of a first edition printing of 'Red Jungle' by Kent Harrington. McMillan's website (which I check far more often that he updates it) makes no reference to this book, coming in late November. But having been on the "loved-it" side of Harrington's 'Dia de los Muertos' earlier this year, I simply can't wait to get my hands on his new one.Here's what McMillan has to say about it:"Better even than his 'Dia de los Muertos', 'Red Jungle' is, indeed, a masterpiece, in the tradition of Graham Greene's 'The Power and the Glory' and B. Traven's 'Treasure of the Sierra Madre'. It's that good. Set in modern Guatemala, Kent tells the story of Russell Cruz-Price, a lost soul who's come back to the land of his birth, on a journey to discover his own history, and also to search for the Red Jaguar – a legendary Mayan temple deity whose size alone puts it in the "priceless" category of antiquities. When he starts these quests, he has no inkling that his heart and soul will be captured by one of the ultimate sirens of modern fiction, and with her as his polestar, he navigates a course through both the strange, family-based web of landed gentry, which, because of his dead mother's position, he finds himself bizarrely welcomed into, and the brutal, death-squad-riddled social and political fabric of the still-feudal "modern" Guatemalan state, in an attempt to come to terms with what his mother's blood has bequeathed him, both intellectually and in his heart-and-gut-feelings for the country of his birth. It's a hell of a trip and beautifully written."
Interior maps by McMillan favorite artist Joseph Servello.McMillan clearly has a passion for this work – and he's a thoroughly reliable judge of noirish works of exceptional quality. Equally clear, McMillan has a strong aversion to the use of the period in his sentences.


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