Friday, March 31, 2017

FFB: Quintana Roo -- Gary Brander

It's funny that sometimes I have such clear memories of the exact circumstances under which I bought a book.  Back in 1984 I was visiting my hometown of Mexia, Texas, and my father and I were in the Safeway store (it's just an empty building now, closed for years).  He was probably buying cat food and using his coupons.  He liked coupons.  Anyway, there was a small paperback rack near the checkout stand, and in the rack was a copy of Quintana Roo.  It was a Gold Medal book, so naturally I had to take a look.  And after a look, I bought it.  I read most of it that weekend, and now I've read it again.

It's 1939, and a beautiful American woman comes to Vera Cruz to hire someone to search for a downed plane in Quintana Roo.  Her husband was on board the plane, and so was John Hooker's best friend.   Hooker's an American with a shady past (we never find out exactly why he's left the U.S. or what he's done), and he takes the job.  

It's an adventure in the old pulp tradition: noisy bars with slow-moving ceiling fans, jungle treks, zombies, lost tribes, a killer cayman, and a few surprises -- what's not to like?  I have to subtract points, though, because there's no quicksand.  It's all fast and fun and predictable, but I don't regret re-reading it.  Now and then something like this is just what I need.

9 comments:

Deb said...

I haven't read this book, but Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne named their daughter Quintana Roo. An odd choice to say the least.

James Reasoner said...

I read this book when it was new and loved it. Has sort of a Raiders of the Lost Ark feel to it. And I believe you and I discussed it back then, too, although in letters that we typed on typewriters, put in envelopes, stuck stamps on, and took to the post office, keeping an eye out for dinosaurs along the way.

Bill Crider said...

Yep, I remember that discussion. It was fun to pick this one up and enjoy it again. The spinner rack in the Safeway where I bought it is as rare as those dinosaurs these days.

Tom Johnson said...

I believe Gary Brander was also one of the Shayne authors for Leo Margulies. I would have to check my listing, but I'm sure he wrote for Leo.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Darn. As usual, Deb beat me to it. I've always liked it that they named their (sadly ill-fated) daughter Quintana Roo.

I'll have to add this to my endless list of books to look for.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

OK, I couldn't resist. Amazon has the Prologue Books Kindle edition for $3.99.

I bet it was more than that on that spinner rack.

Garnett Elliott said...

I remember this one. Had all the proper pulp elements, including an 'Ace' pilot character.

Rick Robinson said...

Darn, now I have to go looking. Still, it's just the sort of thing I need to read these days.

James Reasoner said...

Brandner wrote some of the Charlie Chan novellas for CHARLIE CHAN MYSTERY MAGAZINE. One of them that went unpublished when the magazine folded was rewritten (possibly by Sam Merwin Jr.) into a non-Chan story and published as a two-part serial in MSMM under Brandner's name, just like Harry Whittington's last Man From U.N.C.L.E. story "The Atomic Diamonds Affair" was rewritten into the non-U.N.C.L.E. story "The Ship of Hate" and published in MSMM. I don't recall ever hearing anything about Brandner writing Mike Shayne stories, but he certainly could have.