Hell's Gate by Bill Schutt and J. R. Finch

Description: When a Japanese submarine is discovered abandoned deep in the Brazilian wilderness, a smart, adventurous, and tough zoologist must derail a catastrophic plot in Hell’s Gate.

1944. As war rages in Europe and the Pacific, Army Intel makes a shocking discovery: a 300-foot Japanese sub marooned and empty, deep in the Brazilian interior. A team of Army Rangers sent to investigate has already gone missing. Now, the military sends Captain R. J. MacCready, a quick-witted, brilliant scientific jack-of-all-trades to learn why the Japanese are there—and what they’re planning.

Parachuting deep into the heart of Central Brazil, one of the most remote regions on the planet, Mac is unexpectedly reunited with his hometown friend and fellow scientist Bob Thorne. A botanist presumed dead for years, Thorne lives peacefully with Yanni, an indigenous woman who possesses mysterious and invaluable skills. Their wisdom and expertise are nothing short of lifesaving for Mac as he sets out on a trail into the unknown.

Mac makes the arduous trek into an ancient, fog-shrouded valley hidden beneath a 2000-foot plateau, where he learns of a diabolical Axis plot to destroy the United States and its allies. But the enemy isn’t the only danger in this treacherous jungle paradise. Silently creeping from the forest, an even darker force is on the prowl, attacking at night and targeting both man and beast. Mac has to uncover the source of this emerging biological crisis and foil the enemy’s plans . . . but will he be in time to save humanity from itself?

Hell’s Gate is a great new historical action (I could add about 20 more adjectives) thriller from Bill Schutt and J. R. Finch. Think Indiana Jones meets Michael Crichton. Set in 1944 as World War II is winding down in Europe, Hell’s Gate features Axis soldiers, rocket scientists, and the jungles of Brazil that swallow up Japanese submarines and Army Rangers with equal appetite. And then it gets scary. Captain R.J. “Mac” MacCready is a zoologist called in to discover what the Axis powers are up to deep in jungles of Brazil. Discovering his long-presumed dead friend Bob Thorne and his indigenous wife Yanni, Mac makes plans for Bob and Yanni to get the word out about what the Nazi’s are up to while Mac tries to get closer to the Axis base and disrupt their plans.

While Mac tries to halt the Nazi plans, something in the jungle is stalking them all. Something that the natives both fear and respect. Whether this new threat will stop the enemy or turn out to be the key in their devastating plan to destroy the United States is a terrifying question.

The authors bring a wealth of knowledge to this novel, from history to botany to zoology. This level of realism heightens the thrills. While reading, I found myself swatting at imaginary insects and listening for sounds in the night, so convincingly did I feel like I was in the jungle. The three main characters, Mac, Bob and Yanni shared an easy camaraderie and were fun to root for. The Nazi and Japanese military and scientists ran the gamut from short-sighted to chillingly evil. There were some bumps typical to a first book in a series, namely rough edges on the characters and a plot that was a little choppy moving forward from time to time. On the whole this is an exciting thriller and adventure story. It’s also going to give you a wonderful case of the creeps as you lose yourself in the jungles of Brazil, with Nazi’s on one side of you and something that goes “click click” in the night and whispers in your ear not to worry on the other side.

This is a wonderful new book with characters that set up nicely for more adventures. Sign me up! Fans of James Rollins, Matthew Reilly, Michael Crichton, and Alistair MacLean will all find something to love here. Highly recommended!

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.

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