Friday, July 14, 2017

Forgotten Books: Ki-Gor--and the Paradise That Time Forgot - John Peter Drummond

KI-GOR—AND THE PARADISE THAT TIME FORGOT, from the Fall 1940 issue of JUNGLE STORIES, seems to mark the arrival of yet another new writer behind the John Peter Drummond house-name, especially during the first half of the novel, which is more low-key and realistic than the volumes that have come before. Ki-Gor and Helene come across an expedition led by three Americans: a brutal, alcoholic doctor; his meek, long-suffering wife; and an equally meek anthropologist who is the couple's friend. They're supposed to be in Africa to hunt gorillas, but really the wife and friend are trying to force the doctor to dry out from his booze binges. This domestic drama is a decidedly odd fit for a jungle adventure story.

Then part of the way through, everything lurches sideways and this becomes a lost race yarn, and one with a fairly interesting and plausible basis, too. Naturally, Ki-Gor, Helene, and the bickering Americans get trapped in the hidden valley where the lost race lives and wind up in danger. Then another abrupt shift in the plot and danger from another source rears its head. This story gets a little schizophrenic after a while.

There's no Tembo George, no Bantu tribesmen. Ki-Gor's sidekick is a pygmy named Ngeeso, and he's a pretty good character. Ki-Gor and Helene now live on an island in the middle of a river, something I don't remember from previous stories. But overall, KI-GOR—AND THE PARADISE THAT TIME FORGOT is well-written other than not being able to make up its mind what sort of story it's going to be. It has just enough going for it to be readable and entertaining, in a very minor way. At the very least, it's an improvement over the previous novel in the series.

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