Roller coaster ride through “Green Hell”
Heinz G. Konsalik (1921-1999) was a profilic German author of manly reads, mostly in genres of war and adventure, which frequently touched the world of doctors. Heroine of Agents Love Dangerously is young, intelligent, head strong and beautiful (of course) German science woman Ellen Donhoven, privileged daughter of medicine tycoon. Ardent to prove her father that she can make it on her own, she embarks an expedition to fountainhead of Rio Juma, in the deepest heart of Amazonian rain forests, to research dart poisons of native Indians for their possible pharmaceutical purposes. She is accompanied by an international group of (male) scientists, native guide and a genius cook who knows 34 ape and 11 snake recipes. Also on board are Rudolf Forster, a brilliant and handsome, but too kind for his own good, doctor who is openly but one-sided in love with Ellen and captain José Cascal, representative of Brazilian government, who is not all that meets the eye.
Now this plays little like a B-movie plot and the approach is certainly straightforward and unsubtle. The expedition begins to fall apart almost immediately due to mysterious mishaps, which may or may not have something to do with Cascal (OK, they may). However, instead turning back to the civilization while they still can, the group puts itself in harm’s way by soldiering on to unmapped jungle of millions square kilometers wide just because they wish not look unmanly in eyes beautiful Dr. Ellen.
Even with matters of equality in her mind, Ellen apparently has no objections for this type of fool-hearty chivalry. Indeed, she is not particularly good example of “Woman of the 80’s” as she falls head over heels for an alpha male who suddenly appears out of nowhere rescue the increasingly doomed expedition. Strong-jawed American adventurer Cliff Haller, who mysteriously occupies a parachuted bungalow in middle untouched wilderness with his strikingly beautiful, and deadly jealous, half-native mistress Rita. Apparently Ellen does not mind stealing another woman’s boyfriend either.
You probably guessed that Haller is not exactly who he says he is, which comes apparent as the story proceeds towards “Town of Death”, a top-secret missile base hidden in a jungle valley. In the aftermath most of the expedition meets their demise in various violent ways and Brazilian special troops wipe out an entire village of natives, which is Konsalik’s recommendable effort to shed light into the destruction and genocide of Amazonian native tribes.
If one is not too upset by that genuinely disturbing passage in otherwise lightweight material, or the ruthless vivisection doctors Ellen and Rudolf perform on helpless jungle mammals, Agents Love Dangerously is fun and hyperbolic reading entertainment within rather streamlined 318 pages. Reader does get some insight of the unforgiving conditions in Amazonian rain forest, although the constant use of word “hell” gets repetitious, and the story paints an intriguing picture of Brazil as fascist, semi-police state and enemy of United States – back in freezing year of Cold War 1980 – which provides variety to same old Cuba and Soviet Union.