Saturday 11 May 2013

Review: The Adventures of Jehannum Smith by Gordon MacCreagh

The Adventures of Jehannum Smith by Gordon MacCreagh
This is a collection of six stories (including one serial) published by Black Dog Books. The stories were originally written by Gordon MacCreagh for Argosy magazine from 1919-1920. It also has a comprehensive 31 page biography of the author by Tom Roberts, with 10 photos of the author and other illustrations. Tom Roberts makes a very plausible case for MacCreagh as the original Indiana Jones.

“Jehannum” Smith, the hero of these stories, is a white superman (“he wasn’t more than a decent six feet or so by some two and a half wide.”) who proves the supremacy of the white race again and again. His trustworthy Madrasi servant, Poonoswami, keeps him fuelled with ginger biscuits and whisky.

The stories are:

“Jehnannum” Smith – The first adventure has Smith being persuaded to free a temple dancing girl from the temple so that she can be exhibited in the States. He gets into the temple, fights the priests, confronts a holy ape and escapes with the dancing girl, leaving a trail of destruction behind.

Durga the Unapproachable – This story is set in Calcutta during the season of Durga Puja. Smith takes a bet to steal an idol of the goddess Durga.

Worshippers of Boondi – Smith goes up against a cult of devil worshippers who practise human sacrifice. The cult has kidnapped a white child, the son of the district police superintendent, who does not get along with Smith.

Tact and some Diplomacy – Smith is requested to get a timber concession from a rajah of Bengal. Smith, with his usual “tact and diplomacy”,  persuades the rajah to give the British the concession.

Naked men of Naga – Smith runs up against romance in the jungle while defending an American scientist and his daughter from a tribe of Nagas, who have been hired by a spy in the service of the Japanese to prevent the scientist from breaking their camphor monopoly.

These yarns have plenty of local colour, humor and well written action that seem to be made for the movies. If you're a fan of pulp action, you should definitely check this out. To purchase, click here.


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