Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Elephants of Shanghai by Stephen Jared

Stephen Jared’s The Elephants of Shanghai is his third novel and a direct sequel to Jack and the Jungle Lion, a critically acclaimed New Pulp “romance of adventure.” While it’s not necessary to read Jack and the Jungle Lion first (it can read as a stand-alone tale), I would certainly recommend doing so if you are encountering Stephen Jared’s work for the first. In fact, Solstice Publishing reprints Jack and the Jungle Lion as the opening salvo in this splendid double-barreled pulp adventure. To recap that first tale, Jack and the Jungle Lion opens in Hollywood in 1937. It’s about a film actor named Jack Hunter who is cut from the same cloth as Tyrone Power, Clark Gable or Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. In route to a location shoot his plane crashes and Hunter finds himself trapped in the Amazon rainforest with animal trainer Maxine Daniels and her two children, as well as the irascible co-pilot, Clancy. Surviving is not going to be easy and Hunter needs to become the hero he’s played on screen in order to get home safely. But can he handle the role? Jack and the Jungle Lion received rave reviews. The Elephants of Shanghai takes up where Jack and the Jungle Lion left off. It’s five years later, 1942, and the world is at war. Disguised as Jack Whiskers, Hunter has infiltrated the mob where spies are as plentiful as vice. When Jack goes missing it falls to Maxine Daniels, Hunter’s lover, to track him down. The trail leads to Shanghai, and what follows is quite reminiscent of a 1930s action-melodrama that might have been based upon a pulp magazine story. The Elephants of Shanghai is every bit as entertaining as its predecessor, and then some. Stephen Jared is a fine writer; his prose crackles with witty dialogue, the action remains on full-throttle, and lovers of thrills and spills in fiction will savor every page of this immensely enjoyable book. With jewels known as “The Elephants of Shanghai” and spies, action, and a mysterious woman, this book is destined to make the years top ten lists in the New Pulp category. The cover is by Paul Shipper and the Solstice books are edited by Nik Morton.

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