Hell’s Gate

Written by Michael Parker
Review by Thomas j. Howley

Hell’s Gate is set in British East Africa in 1898. The plot is quite straightforward, and would not be out of place in any “Boy’s Own” story. Reuben Cole, a settler, must rescue his son, who has been kidnapped by Piet Snyder, a renegade Dutchman. Snyder plans to give the boy to the leader of 10,000 Masai tribesmen, who, with the connivance and encouragement of the German government, plan to attack the strategically important rail camp at Nairobi. The defence of Nairobi is in the hand of Major Kingsley Webb, who commands only 250 soldiers. Include in the plot Hannah, headstrong daughter of the Reverend Audrey Bowers, who is rescued by Cole when she and her father are attacked by a group of marauding Masai. She must choose between the attraction she feels for the settler and the long- standing understanding that she has had with Major Webb. This book, like the proverbial curate’s egg, is good in parts. The battle scenes are well written, but the dialogue, while reflecting the attitudes of the time, comes across as contrived. This book had real potential, but unfortunately failed to live up to it.