Picks and Pans Review: River of Death
by Alistair Maclean
Near the end of World War II a couple of Nazi officers remove a chest of ancient gold coins from a Greek monastery. Then, as the Third Reich falls, one of the Nazis double-crosses the other and escapes with the gold to South America. Years later an adventurer who is "tall, broad-shouldered, powerfully built and 40 years of age" goes in pursuit. There is a beautiful Israeli agent after the Nazi too, and a couple of Greeks who want the priceless coins returned. The Nazi treasure theme has been nearly mined out, and this is a familiar chase novel, across jungles and into an ancient lost city. Most readers will feel they have made this trip before. Maclean, the author of The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra and other violent adventure novels, seems to be straining for jauntiness, and the dialogue is often stilted and silly: One character says, "The good Nazi is the one who has stopped breathing." River of Death is nowhere near the author's best. (Doubleday, $14.95)
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