RIALL W. NOLAN – The Treasure at Loatani Point. Dell, paperback original; 1st printing, November 1990.

   This the first book in a two-book men’s adventure series, one that I missed completely when it first came out, even though I was scouting the bookstores fairly regularly at the time, or so I thought.

   From his biographical webpage at Purdue University, Dr. Nolan received his PhD in Social Anthropology from Sussex University in the UK in 1975 and joined the faculty at Purdue University in 2003. Among the books is has written, other than this Max Donovan series he did for Dell, are some fairly basic textbooks for graduate students in anthropology. Among the many schools where he has been affiliated is the University of Papua New Guinea.

   So it’s not much of a coincidence that that’s where a good portion of Loatani Point takes place, beginning at Port Moresby — a city whose name always sends the chills of adventure up and down my spine — before heading out into what is still largely uncharted wilderness.

   The story begins and ends in San Francisco, though — or almost but not quite. Donovan is in Bangkok just finishing up an assignment when he gets a call from the San Francisco police department telling him that his partner, a fellow Viet Nam vet and POW, has just been arrested for killing a man. Max knows two things: (1) Freddie could not have done it, and (2) if convicted, he could never survive any amount of time in prison.

   Max’s investigation takes both him and a homicide detective named Sam (female) on a side trip to New Guinea, and the treasure the title tells us about. It’s a trip filled with all kinds of adventures and deadly betrayals, but as it turns out, the only way they can free Freddie from a plot only tangentially related to the treasure, is by coming back to California digging even deeper into local and statewide politics.

   Niall is a better than average writer, with a good feeling for both time and place, and the book is a step above many of the men’s adventure paperbacks at the time. Think Matt Helm and Sam Durell more than Mack Bolan — not that the latter’s adventures weren’t exactly what a lot of male readers wanted at the time — with the difference being that both Helm and Durell had government jobs, and Donovan is a freelancer.

   Or more precisely, what he calls himself is a supplier. A supplier of what, Sam asks. His reply: “Just about anything. I can either get it or tell you where to find it. I draw the line at drugs, porn or weapons. […] I supply missing people a lot of the time.”

   Max Donovan’s second outing was The Fat Lady’s Song, also from Dell the same year. This first one went down so smoothly that I went looking for the second one right after finishing this one. It didn’t take long, and it’s in the mail to me now.