Book review: Return to The Lost World by Steve Barlow & Steve Skidmore

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Air battles, ambushes, lethal assassins, kidnappings, smuggling and dinosaur attacks...are you out of breath already?

You will be when you turn the last page of a brilliant all-action story from the pens of two former teachers who know just how to keep a boy happy.

Return to The Lost World introduces Luke Challenger, an exciting teenage hero who is more than a match for the much-loved Biggles.

Constantly in mortal danger, Luke does what every teen dreams of...he has ‘ripping’ adventures which involve taking to the skies in gliders and hot air balloons, rowing through the Brazilian rainforest and entering a lost world of terrifying dinosaurs.

Along the way, he encounters a German pilot with murder on his mind, native tribesmen with poison darts and a mysterious cult who will kill anybody who gets in their way.

If you haven’t already guessed, Conan Doyle’s The Lost World was the inspiration for Barlow and Skidmore’s cliff-hanging thriller which has the added dimension of being set in the dark and shadowy 1930s when the world was teetering on the verge of another war.

Fourteen-year-old Luke’s crippled father owns Challenger Industries, one of Britain’s biggest plane manufacturers and currently taking part in Top Secret work for the government.

Luke’s best friend, and partner in a series of madcap escapades, is his hot-tempered cousin Nick Malone and their latest mission is to find Luke’s palaeontologist mother Harriet who has gone missing in South America.

Harriet is trying to track down the Lost World discovered by Luke’s grandfather years ago and described in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s now famous book.

But a ruthless and unprincipled organisation called the Sons of Destiny has its own agenda on that distant and long-forgotten plateau in Brazil and a traitor back in England is masterminding their dastardly deeds.

Luke and Nick, plus their new friend Mercedes da Silva, daughter of their mother’s guide, are going to face both human and animal varieties of snakes when they set out across those dangerous jungles...

With the dinosaur dilemmas of Jurassic Park, the espionage excitement of James Bond and the thrills and spills of Indiana Jones, Return to The Lost World is guaranteed to put the fun back into reading.

(Usborne, paperback, £5.99)