Book 2 of the Kilimanjaro Club Adventure Series takes American Stuart Mancini to the rugged mountains of China, where a friend of his late grandfather – a renowned explorer and adventurer who belonged to an exclusive, private club for world travelers – has sent out a call for help.
Eighty-year-old Parnell Sumner has been captured by a gang of outlaws who are hiding out in a neglected section of China’s Great Wall. Meanwhile, illegal trade in a drug made from the bones and organs of rare tigers has brought an unscrupulous Texas businessman to China. Hot on the Texan’s trail is a none-too-bright hitman with bizarre body modifications. He’s botched a hit the Texan hired him to make, and his solution is to kill the Texan.
The paths of all these characters, as well as Mancini’s Italian girlfriend and twin sisters with formidable fighting skills, are about to collide in a spectacular way.
The story is filled with offbeat characters and meticulous descriptions of locales ranging from glamorous to squalid. It’s set in 2000, which is why there’s no problem finding working pay phones and a villain who has an AOL dial-up internet connection in his secret lair, a replica of the flight deck of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise. Still, the occasional suspension of disbelief is required, when, for example, one of the characters is shot and mortally wounded and someone just happens to have a flask on hand containing a miraculous potion that produces instant healing.
The book starts slow, and readers may stumble over its frequent references to events that took place in Lamberson’s previous Kilimanjaro Club novel, A Grave Invitation. It’s not until Chapter 10 that things pick up and become enthralling.
Those who persevere will enjoy the story’s characters and vivid descriptions, which bring to mind the work of Lee Child (the Jack Reacher series) and J.D. Dudycha (creator of FBI Special Agent Jasper James).