A Book Spy Review: ‘Hell’s Gate’ by Bill Schutt and J.R. Finch

Hell's GateIt’s 1944, and an abandoned Japanese submarine is found deep in the Brazillian wilderness. The question is, what the heck is it doing there? That’s what the United States Army wants to find out, and why they sent a team of Rangers to bring home answers. Instead, the soldiers they sent go missing.

Now, desperate for more clues, Captain R.J. MacCready is tasked with navigating his way through Central Brazil as he investigates the situation. 

MacCready, who goes by “Mac,” isn’t completely alone, though. He meets up with a long-lost friend of his, a mysterious character named Bob Thorne, who has a somewhat checkered past and has long been thought dead, and Bob’s partner, Yanni. Together, the three of them embark on a journey into the unknown. 

Mac eventually finds something and starts getting the answers the Army desires. However, more questions arise, and soon a bigger threat is detected that could lead to mass destruction–the target being America. 

Mac finds himself racing against the clock in a thick jungle setting that he’s not familiar with. And then, with the odds already stacked against him, another enemy presents itself, making the entire situation even worse–and twice as dangerous. 

Saying this book is hard to put down just doesn’t do it justice. That’d be like saying Oreos are hard to stop eating after just one cookie. In reality, both are nearly impossible! 

My thoughts 

The best parts of this book, in my opinion, are the descriptions of the various exotic locations. One scene, in particular, involving a breathtakingly beautiful (and eerie) fog-covered portion of land deep below a 2,000-foot plateau, literally gave me goosebumps. I seriously want to go there, but I’d be terrified to check it out. Trust me, it’s a conundrum other readers will soon understand for themselves.

Mac is a fantastic character, similar to the likes of Indiana Jones, except that he’s a zoologist and not an archaeologist. Personally, I’ve never read a book that stars a zoologist until now, but it lends itself nicely to the story and makes MacCready a distinct, unique, and memorable character. He’s also smart, funny and daring–all of which works extremely well in the jungle setting that Hell’s Gate takes place in.

The secondary characters are also compelling and either very likable or incredibly unlikable–depending on what the authors were going for. They do a great job at both and especially excel at detailing descriptions that put the reader in the jungle along with Mac, Thorne, and Yanni. 

The book is driven by suspense, but also contains a fair bit of violence. Veteran readers of this genre will hardly notice, others may get a little squeamish or turned-off. Personally, it didn’t bother me–then again, I have a pretty high tolerance for bloodshed… as long as it’s fictional! 

Hell’s Gate has a little bit of something for everyone and should appeal to a wide and diverse audience. Whether you love adventure novels or spy thrillers, this book has what you’re looking for. The story is engaging early on, hooking the reader and holding their attention until the blistering end. I found it to be a very enjoyable read, and a true page-turner set during World War II. 

Thrilling and suspenseful, with a touch of creepy and a dash of terrifying, Hell’s Gate is a fun read with an original plot and a unique cast of characters. 

Book Details

Authors: Bill Schutt and J.R. Finch

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

Publisher: William Marrow 

Release Date: June 7, 2016 (Order now!)


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