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A Cafe on the Nile (1998)

by Bartle Bull

Series: Anton Rider (2)

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1626123,438 (3.89)101
A cast of adventurers take part in the Abyssinian War. They include an Italian flying ace seeking glory, an English safari hunter who wants to recuperate his wife from the flying ace, a German who stole Italian war booty, two American lady twins and a dwarf. By the author of The White Rhino Hotel.
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    The Mamur Zapt and the Donkey-Vous by Michael Pearce (danhammang)
    danhammang: If you're looking for another fun period piece set in Egypt try The Mamur Zapt mysteries by Michael Pearce. The setting is a few decades earlier during British 'Protectorate' of Egypt. '...They came to help but haven't gone away...'
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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
The great fun of this read is the wealth of material about the period - mid-1930s, the geography, the geology, history and equipage of this particular moment. I found I needed to exercise some restraint on my ongoing eagerness to set the book down so I could look for more information, or even better, more images about what was unfolding in the plot. If you enjoy learning about locales and history as you read this would be a good choice. ( )
  danhammang | Sep 2, 2019 |
Packed shock-full of adventure, this novel definitely falls into the 'thumping good read' category and I was thrilled to revisit some characters I had grown fond of on discovery in the first book in the Anton Rider trilogy, The White Rhino Hotel. I would definitely recommend new readers start with that first book, but in a cinch, one could just as well pick up from here if one were, say, stuck somewhere with only this book on hand for some reason; I could wish a much worse fate upon anyone, trust me.

All the action takes place in 1935 on the African continent, mostly in Cairo, Egypt and in Abyssinia, as Ethiopia was mostly referred to back then. The novel begins on a luxurious café barge permanently moored on the bank of the Nile in central Cairo, where most of the actors in the drama that is about to unfold are present at a special event. Owned by the Goan dwarf Olivio Fonseca Alavedo, whom we'd met in the first novel, and who's ambition is as large as his features are small; the pleasure seeking Olivio has made a fortune with his unfailing business instincts and now has plans which include his friends to enlarge his fortune exponentially, as he buys up fertile land along the Nile, but as he does so he attracts some dangerous enemies.

Meanwhile, his old friend Anton Rider's business running Safari hunts for rich tourists has all but dried up, no thanks to the ongoing Great Depression, but he's finally secured some rich American clients: a pair of twin Kentucky heiresses and the artist fiancé of one of the very sexy Mills girls, who are not above dressing alike and (Bernadette being the engaged one) claiming to be Harriet while looking for a good time. Ready for any kind of adventure, they insist on being taken to Ethiopia for the incomparable sights and unique wildlife, even though Fascist Italy has been showing signs of an imminent invasion, or what to the modern reader is to become the second Italo-Ethiopian war. They get their money's worth as far as showing their mettle and prove to be tough cookies indeed.

Anton's estranged wife Gwenn has taken up medicine studies in Cairo, as well an Italian lover, the Colonel Lorenzo Grimaldi, who just happens to be the leader of the Italian air squadron. He is on his way to Ethiopia to, among other things, launch poison gas on the natives, though of course his lady friend isn't to know this, though she has more than strong suspicions that war is coming. Therefore, Gwenn on her side is determined to join up with the Red Cross in Ethiopia and use her medical studies, combined with her nursing experience from the first war to help the victims of casualties which her lover insists won't take exist since he denies there is to be an invasion to begin with. They are dancing a dangerous dance as Lorenzo has been putting her and her children up at his house and paying all their expenses, including the children's schooling, yet with this looming war he is not above making some heartless decisions while claiming to still care for her. It goes without saying that when Anton and Grimaldi briefly come face-to-face, the two men are bound to become archenemies.

Another of Anton's old friends, Ernst von Decken, has decided he will steal a cache of Italian silver coins and will eventually attract the savage attention of Grimaldi for his efforts. All these players make their separate way to Abyssinia toward their individual or group adventures, all of which involve plenty of danger, sex, and violence with just the right amount of daring and thrills, though lives aren't spared and plenty is sacrificed along the way. Olivio for his part remains on the Cairene home front to host a German specialist in dwarfism and fight off his murderous enemies with the help of his ever-loyal giant Nubian servant Tariq, while the other characters in this drama all somehow cross paths in Ethiopia during a horrible war, during which, among other things, Gwenn's Red Cross station is attacked and gassed by the Italian air forces, and the Mills twins capture some of the mustard gas attacks on film, and then have to run for their lives, while Grimaldi and his men hound them down, intent to kill them and destroy the film to ensure word doesn't get out on the international front that poison gas has been used and bring on sanctions for Italy. Bartle Bull has done his research well, though he's changed some dates, locations and details which he reveals in the closing pages. Among other things, his descriptions of the nature and wildlife which Anton Rider and his American clients encounter along the way proved to be especially rewarding as I kept the iPad nearby and looked up the many creatures and trees and plants until then unfamiliar to me, making me feel like I was on a nature discovery show. Thrills and chills provided as an extra bonus!

The pace is unrelenting and though I reluctantly had to put the book down because of sheer fatigue at night, I couldn't wait to get back to it as part of my nightly routine for a few days and was sorry when this riveting adventure was all over. Thankfully there's one more book in the trilogy to look forward to. ( )
2 vote Smiler69 | Aug 19, 2014 |
A Café on the Nile by Bartle Bull is a rollicking adventure story filled with colourful characters in the exotic settings of Cairo and Ethiopia. The second in his African Trilogy, we are reconnected to many familiar characters from the first book. The timing is now 1935 and Cairo a city that mixes people from many nationalities and political standpoints. Anton Rider has just arrived to pick up his newest clients for a safari and also to visit his sons and estranged wife, Gwen, who are living in Cairo while Gwen trains to be a doctor. The place to meet in Cairo is the Cataract Café, which is run by none other than Olivio Alevado, the extremely clever dwarf. Still incredibly loyal to his friends he has plans to make them all rich.

Broader in scope than The White Rhino Hotel, with it’s backdrop of war as the Italians invade Ethiopia, A Café on the Nile is much more action driven than the first book. Following several plotlines, the story twists and turns continuously. As the reader is drawn into the book, the action gears up and by the end of the book we are left breathless from these daring exploits.

Completely entertaining this rip-roaring yarn has romance, excitement, adventure and violence to spare. I thoroughly enjoyed my tine with this book and look forward to completing the trilogy. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Sep 27, 2012 |
In this exciting follow-up to White Rhino Hotel, we return to Africa, just at the brink of World War II, with the Italian army advancing and getting ready to pounce, like a crazed jaguar. Anton Rider, the great hunter, is back, along with Olivio, the crafty and business-minded dwarf, who owns and operates the exotic “Café” of the title.
This is a rousing adventure, packed with action, history, sex and war, a nifty cross between “Casablanca” and “Indiana Jones”. The author has had a long time obsession with Africa and it shows in every vivid sentence. This is the 2nd book in a trilogy and I look forward to the next one. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote msf59 | Sep 25, 2011 |
Great adventure, great skullduggery, and great romance all rolled into one book. Heroic heroes and nasty villains abound. And don't forget the scenery and the great descriptions of the people and the wildlife of the Ethiopian Highlands. If exotic settings and thrilling action is your cup of tea, this is the book for you. All of this makes for an unbeatable combination. Reading this book is better than watching an Indiana Jones or James Bond movie. Best of all the great characters that the author created in White Rhino Hotel are back and better, and worse than ever. They are older and changed, as well as changing, and learning and growing as people and characters.

The time is 1935 and the setting is Cairo, Egypt and the Ethiopian Highlands. Olivio Alevado owns and operates the Cataract Cafe, a floating restaurant that is one of the watering holes of the expatriate community living in Cairo at the time. Olivio fights his battles of intrigue and skullduggery with nefarious villains who want to deny him access to lands and riches because he is who he is. At the same time Anton Rider is leading a safari of two rich American women (who naturally are beautiful and succumb to the charms of the dashing hunter) that has gotten caught in the crossfire between the Ethiopians and the Italians at the beginning of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. To complicate matters Rider's wife, Gwen, has left him to attend medical school in Cairo, where she then volunteers for the Red Cross that is sending teams to Ethiopia. Of course her path crosses that of her husband and the romance is renewed, much to the dismay of the safari sisters. The novel toggles back and forth between the two story lines - Olivio's and Rider's.. Probably the novel is overly romantic, sentimental, and filled with improbable action, but oh-my-god! what a ride. ( )
  benitastrnad | Jun 20, 2011 |
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A cast of adventurers take part in the Abyssinian War. They include an Italian flying ace seeking glory, an English safari hunter who wants to recuperate his wife from the flying ace, a German who stole Italian war booty, two American lady twins and a dwarf. By the author of The White Rhino Hotel.

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