26 MAY 1939, Page 38

This book (Cape, 7s. 6d.) is Mr. Idriess's best so

far. He still uses some of the cheap stylistic tricks that marred Lasseter's Last Ride, such as using "shrug" as a verb of speech, and over-using the phrase" A man could . . ." do this, that and the other. And his dialogue does not always ring true. But his descriptions of wild life certainly do, though on a mangrove-fringed Pacific island nature is often incredibly fantastic and horrible. Years ago the author and a fellow prospector called Charlie worked a tin claim on a ten-acre island off the Cape York peninsula of Australia. Idriess intended stopping a month, but Charlie turned out to have fits of madness, and to have arranged with the captain of the relief boat not to call for them till he made a certain signal. So they lived a cat-and-dog life on different parts of the island, existing mostly on crabs and cod caught with home- made spears. A plague of sand-flies, a high tide that swamped the only fresh-water spring, Charlie's murderous attacks, and a visit by Japanese opium smugglers, added to the excitement. It all makes a most gripping story, and this, the author's second version of it (the original was his first book, and pub- lished only in Australia) deserves success.