Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reviews from the 86th Floor: Book Reviews by Barry Reese

Written by Max McCoy
Bantam Books (1996, reissued 2008)
ISBN 978-0-553-56193-7

As a huge Indy fan, I've collected all the novels over the years and will periodically take them out for a spin. My favorites are the ones written by Rob MacGregor but this is the best of the Max McCoy ones. It does continue threads from previous McCoy books and some elements are obviously to be continued from here but for the most part, it's a nice done-in-one and you won't suffer too much from jumping into this one if you're unfamiliar with the literary Indy.

In this story, Indy is contacted by a beautiful nun who tells him that her father has gone missing in Outer Mongolia. In her possession is a horn that appears to have come from a recently deceased triceratops. Indy, our lovely missionary and a rugged explorer named Granger set off in search of both the missing professor and the possibly living dinosaurs. Along the way, there's a breathtaking action sequence in the American Museum of Natural History, a visit to a valley lost to time, Indy's first meeting with Rene Belloq and the possibility that Indy is the reincarnation of Marco Polo.

My only real complaint is that the novel sometimes skips weeks in between chapters -- as a result, the first half of the book chugs along at a steady pace and the second half feels like it's jumping around through what should have been an even bigger adventure. It makes me wonder if there was an editorial decision to trim the novel to fit into a specific page count.

McCoy has been very vocal that a number of his attempts to write the books for adults were shot down by the editors but I still feel this one captures the feel of the Raiders of the Lost Ark Indy very well and it was a blast to revisit it. The MacGregor novels are set earlier in Indy's timeline so this one is probably a nice one to pick up if you're new to the literary trail since the presentation of Indy is very consistent with what we see in the first film. If you enjoy it, go back to the beginning of the novels and see what you've been missing -- both the MacGregor and the McCoy runs are worthwhile and even the Martin Caidin books have their moments.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.