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Friday, 14 February 2014

FFB - Hell's Gate

Friday's Forgotten Book today is Hell's Gate by Michael Parker

Originally published by Robert Hale in 2007, it is now released as a paperback by Acclaimed Books. It deserves a wide readership.

Set in British East Africa in 1898, this is a tremendous adventure story inspired by historical events. Widower Reuben Cole is a farmer in the Rift Valley area and is hunting with his twelve-year-old son David. Neither is aware that they’re being watched by Dutchman Snyder, who is planning something which will yield him power and money.

In the nearby railway camp of Nairobi, the chief administrator to the Railway Company and Major Webb of the British East Africa Rifles are talking politics. Despite the unseasonal rain, the railway construction is progressing, and they hope to link up Mombasa with Uganda, ‘the jewel of Africa’. But there are rumours that a Masai chief has joined forces with the Germans to attack and undermine British interests.

The damnable continual rain was threatening to fill Lake Naivasha to capacity and if that happened, the overflow would course down through the funnel of Hell’s Gate and swamp Reuben’s farmland. He left his son at home and set out to seek out any options for diverting the possible down-rush of water. His farm was attacked by a party of Masai and his son and his friend’s children were taken away, to be sold into slavery. As Reuben sets out on his son’s trail - a journey that might also decide the future of this land - his fate becomes entwined with Reverend Bowers and his daughter Hannah and Major Webb, who is in love with Hannah.

Webb’s contingent of 200 soldiers and fifty volunteers is pitted against the massed warriors of 10,000 Masai led by the evil Snyder. At stake are not only their lives, but the railway and Britain’s presence in East Africa.

There’s plenty of action and believable romance too. Parker effectively conjures up impressive images of the land and the people. While an attempted rape and some fighting scenes are quite graphic, this is still a good old-fashioned and exciting adventure yarn which I’d recommend to both sexes. Hannah’s world is turned upside down when Reuben dramatically enters her life; she finds her feelings torn in two. You care about her fate, and also that of Reuben, his son, her father, the gruff but heroic Sergeant and even love-torn Webb.
Get past the politics of the early pages – essential to set the scene - and you won’t want to put the book down.

This was my review of the 2007 hardback. I especially like the new cover.
Michael Parker's bio (from Goodreads):
Brought up in London. Attended Sir Walter St. John's Grammar School for boys in Battersea until the family moved to Portsmouth in 1954. Continued education at Southern Grammar. Left school with no qualifications and started work as a Junior deigner at Twilfits (Corset/Brassiere manufacturer). Left after one year and joined the Merhcant Navy as a Steward. Two years later married Pat, my teenage sweetheart and went to work on a building site. Three months later I joined the RAF as an electrician. Left 16 years later on a redundancy package and worked in a food factory for a couple of years. Left and worked in the Middle East for a year. Then back to another food manufacturer (Mars) for 17 years until early retirement in 1996. Moved out to Spain with Pat in 1997. We have four sons and ten grandchildren.

I have written all my adult life with moderate success. My first novel, NORTH SLOPE was published by Macmillan in 1980. My second, SHADOW OF THE WOLF in 1984 by Robert Hale. My third, HELL'S GATE was published in 2007 by Robert Hale followed by THE EAGLE'S COVENANT (2007) and THE DEVIL'S TRINITY in 2008. This was followed by THE THIRD SECRET,in 2009 and then A COVERT WAR in 2010. My latest novel, THE BOY FROM BERLIN was released in December 2011, and has now been picked up by Harlequin who have purchased (leased) the paperback rights for North America and Canada.

I have also teamed up with Acclaimed Books Ltd., and have published NORTH SLOPE in paperback and in Kindle. Also A COVERT war is now available in both formats. Later this year I will publish The Third Secret, but will give it the title: ROSELLI'S GOLD. Please look up these books; you won't be disappointed.

He is currently being treated for Lymphoma and facing this with stoicism, while continuing to write. Our prayers go to you and your wife Pat at this time, Michael.

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