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As aggressive as an avalancheÄand often with the same graceÄReilly's second pulp-fiction adventure hurtles into the Peruvian jungle, where competing factions search for a precious Incan idol, the "Spirit of the People." The U.S. Army leads the pack. Like the others, the army wants the relic because it is made out of thyrium-261, a rare material, found only in meteorites, that can be used to create a fearsome weapon of mass destruction. The idolÄa carved snarling jaguar headÄis hidden in a stone temple and guarded by a pack of fearsome rapas, huge cats that can tear the best-trained warrior limb from limb. If the rapas aren't enough, 22-foot crocodiles also lurk nearby. The army group is led by unlikely hero William Race, a linguist brought along on the journey to translate the 400-year-old manuscript revealing the location of the idol. Race and the soldiers manage to fight off the rapas and retrieve the precious statuette, only to have a latterday Nazi paramilitary group, the Stormtroopers, crash the scene and take it away. However, the Stormtroopers can't hold the idol for long. U.S. Navy Seals swoop in to grab it, then lose it to a terrorist outfit from Texas. The mad chaseÄfought on land, water and in the airÄhurtles through ancient ruins, abandoned gold mines and tribal villages. The action, punctuated by regular bursts of superhuman feats and other absurdities, careens along at a breakneck pace. Australian Reilly (Ice Station) has a gift for sustaining momentum that never lets up. His writing may be crude at points, his characters cartoonish and his humor inelegant, but his story delivers all the excitement it promises. (Jan. 19) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Pan Macmillan really ought to have published a health warning for asthmatics on the front cover of this latest mega-thriller from Matthew Reilly. It's probably the most breathless read in the history of airport fiction. The action starts within the first two pages of the prologue and doesn't let up until the end. Reilly burst onto the mass-market scene with Contest and Ice Station, and has gained a legion of followers for his improbable, daring and plot-driven yarns. Temple will satisfy Reilly fans who are looking for exotic locations, problems solved with the maximum of violence and more action than a Pat Rafter final. Indeed, there was so much action packed onto every page that I was yearning for just a couple of moments in the book when nothing much happened. Forget getting to know characters and any underlying philosophies - Temple is driven by plot and plot alone. A world-destroying gizmo can only be operated by a chunk of outer-space material known to have landed deep in the heart of Amazonia, where previously unknown six-foot-tall black cats are guarding a temple after a Spanish conquistador... get the point? Oh, I forgot the Nazis. This is wonderful escapist fantasy which satisfies easily, provided you suspend your disbelief from the bedhead. Alan Gold is an Australian novelist whose latest book, Berlin Song, is being published this month by HarperCollins. C. 1999 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

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