The usual bright, brash liveliness
--Kirkus Bookshop Service
The Red Tassel
The action in The Red Tassel, David Dodges third and final Al Colby adventure, takes place high in the Bolivian Andes. Colby is hired by the beautiful, red-headed Pancha Porter, who is making her first visit to Bolivia, to investigate a series of mysterious thefts and accidents at her lead and silver mine in San Martín Coquellache (altitude 17,000 feet). The mine was left to her by her father and is managed by an American named Simon Braillard. Braillard suspects that the accidents are actually sabotage and that the village witch doctor, Yatiri, is behind them.
Upon their arrival at the mine, Al and Pancha meet Braillard, his beautiful wife Lili and skinny son Carl, along with the mines chief employees. The thefts continue, including a daring nighttime raid on the mines llama herd. Just as Colby is beginning to unravel the relationships between Yatiri and the mine workers (everyone in the village is related and Braillards chief assistants are direct descendants of the witch doctor), Braillard winds up with a knife in his back and a red borla -- a woven ear tassel for a llama, used as a mark of ownership -- in his hand. Now he has to uncover the rest of Yatiris secrets before he and Pancha meet the same fate.
They say your sex impulses are inhibited at high altitudes, something to do with the effect of decreased air pressure on blood pressure. Mine werent. I would have had to be as high as the moon not to appreciate Pancha Porter at a distance of one foot. It wasnt an aroused social conscience that made me want to tell her I would stand on my head and juggle Indians with my feet if she asked me to. It was her nearness, the pleading look in her blue eyes, and, most of all, her mouth. Nobodys boss had a right to leave a mouth like that so close to an employee. It was just the color of her hair, like a flame.
I felt myself going overboard. My palms began to sweat. A gunshot saved me.
The Red Tassel, Chapter 8
The Madwoman (La loca)
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