BOOK REViEW: The Red Sea Sharks, Hergé

Starting with a chance encounter with an old acquaintance, General Alcazar, Tintin returns to the Middle-Eastern theatre of action of Land Of Black Gold

Tintin encounters an old adversary, Müller (first encountered in The Black island), who is involved in nefarious paramilitary oil-related activities. Müller eventually kidnaps the wonderfully appalling oily little tyke Abdullah, hugely irritating much loved son of Ben Kalish Ezab, in an attempt to fuel conflict between Ezab and Sheikh Bab El Ehr. Abdullah, rather like Jolyon Wagg, or Castafiore (who has a small cameo in the adventure), is one of Hergé’s great irritating characters, and gives him the chance for some excellent character development (not only in terms of Abdullah himself, but also in the way adults react to him), alongside some good old-fashioned simple slapstick. 

So, Tintin must rescue Abdullah – not at all easy when one takes Abdullah’s mischievous temperament into account – and get to the bottom of the exploding fuel mystery, meeting new characters (Skut), old friends (General Alcazar and Senhor Oliveira da Figueira), and old adversaries (as well as Müller there’s Dawson, of Blue Lotus fame, now dealing arms, plus Rastapopoulos and Allan, now working as a team, destined to reappear in Flight 714), preventing WWIII, foiling a slave trading ring, and reuniting Abdullah with his grateful ‘papa’. All in a days work for our plucky ‘boy reporter’ hero!

Thompson and Thomson provide alot of fun in this book, sticking out like sore thumbs on board the Speedol Star, getting lost and suffering from an inability to discern between reality and mirages in the desert, and annoying everyonme from pump attendents to worshippers at a mosque along the way. This is also the adventure in which they pick up the strange hair and skin condition that recurs during Explorers On The Moon.

At this point in his career Hergé and his team are really flying, and this is an excellent adventure, jam-packed with character, wit, slapstick, action, intrigue and all-round fun. It’s superbly written, and beautifully drawn. An absolute pleasure from start to finish.

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