Lisa's Reviews > Neanderthal

Neanderthal by John Darnton
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Aug 16, 14

bookshelves: library-book-or-loan, usa, 20thcentury
Read in January, 1997

** spoiler alert ** This was a jolly good adventure story! The plot was incredible, to say the least: the hero and heroine Matt & Susan, long-parted lovers, are lured by the CIA to the Pamirs (mountains in one of those roof-of-the-world Russian republics) to seek out a colleague who disappeared on a hunt for Neanderthals. There's a series of heart-stopping encounters with the tribe that turns out to be the most advanced because they've learned to kill, but Matt & Simon escape to live with a highly idealised Eden with a more pacific group who mourn over the death of a fish caught by Matt.
It all seems credible enough for most of the story with authentic-sounding references to Darwin and other scientists we've vaguely heard of, but credulity is stretched to the limit by the final rescue of Susan. Earlier rescues involved improbably training some of the hominids to fight so that the evil Van (a CIA stooge accompanying the expedition) can be rescued; they take the risk because religion has taught them the sanctity of life. (Too bad so many of the hominids die because he's a worthless rat). But when the hominids make a Trojan horse to rescue Susan, (because deception is the key characteristic of homo sapiens, which enabled them to triumph over the Neanderthals) - well, that's when I started skipping paragraphs because it was so silly.
Still, it would make a great movie, with beaut battle scenes, apocalyptic earthquakes and exciting flights from terror. But they'd have a bit of trouble getting it released for general viewing if they included the torture of KeeWah's victims and the haunting image of the captured Neanderthal experimented on by the CIA (hoping to get an edge on the Russians by finding the secret of their telepathic communication).
Well, I did say it was silly...
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