Steve Perry pens the last (to date) canon novel in the Indiana Jones series, that is set five years after The Last Crusade, and takes place in the midst of the Second World War. Indy is older now, in his forties, he is working for the OSS, and he is joined by his good friend Mac.
They’ve arrived in Haiti to do a little treasure hunting between assignments. They are searching for a black pearl known as the Heart of Darkness. They aren’t the only ones looking however, and despite being aided by a beautiful priestess, Marie, they will be hunted by Germans, the Japanese and a terrifying voodoo master.
So if there is adventure, and voodoo, and a name like the Army of the Dead, you know it’s going to be about zombies. In fact I’m starting to worry that was what the pitch meeting was… Indiana Jones meets the Walking Dead.
Anyway, Perry has a fairly solid handling on Indy, and he writes Mac pretty well, but unfortunately the story plays out simply as a long protracted chase through the jungle. In other words, the story lacks the serialized storytelling that make the films such an enjoyable adventure,
There are nods of what is to come in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and recollections of things past (including some adventures we haven’t seen or read yet), but this story would only be the first part, or the culmination of an adventure. There would be chases, fist fights, and cliffhangers beforehand, with the slow chase through the jungle sped up and used during the third act.
That is the real downfall of the book, it just lacks the Indiana Jones style of adventure that one wants when one saddles up with the man in the hat. You want to traipse from one cliffhanger to the next until it all culminates in a supernaturally tinged climax.
There are some fun moments, some bad moments, and I felt that Perry spent way too much time on his supporting characters. I don’t need lots of exposition on the German spy’s history, or the Japanese officer’s family. I don’t want to sound harsh, but I’m reading an Indiana Jones story and there are expectations. I don’t mind the fact that Perry wanted to flesh out his characters, by problem is that it took away from Indy’s adventure, because we constantly want to get back to his storyline.
Still, the adventures continue, and Indiana Jones remains my hero.