Hell’s Gate: A Thriller


Sometimes you must enter hell in order to defeat evil.

In 1944, after a three hundred foot Japanese sub is found marooned and deserted, deep in the wilderness of Central Brazil, a team of Army rangers is sent to investigate. But soon they too, are among the missing. Enter Captain R.J. MacCready, a brilliant zoologist who specializes in just this type of mission: in this case to determine why the Japanese are in Brazil and to stop whatever it is they have planned. 

After teaming up with his old friend and fellow scientist, Bob Thorne—a man he thought was dead—Mac learns that German and Japanese scientists have actually arrived months earlier on a second sub. After setting up a base camp below the towering cliffs of Brazil’s Central plateau, the Axis forces have set out to construct a weapon that could change the course of WWII. Soon, though, Mac discovers yet another threat – an ancient and deadly species incensed at the arrival of the human invaders and determined to kill anyone they encounter – Axis or Allied.

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“Working within chilling scientific plausibility, this two-fisted jungle adventure swerves unexpectedly down a path of heart-pounding horror. What emerges from the darkness will haunt you long after you put the book down.” —James Cameron, director/writer/explorer

“Schutt and Finch’s debut novel Hell’s Gate has everything I love in a book: rip-roaring action, strange-but-authentic science, and characters that pop right off the page. Here is an adventure that harkens to the glory days of H. Rider Haggard and H.G. Wells. It’s a thrill ride set in the Amazon that would challenge Indiana Jones at his best. Two warnings: Do NOT miss this debut…and be prepared to read this in one sitting. I know I sure did!” —James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Seventh Plague

“I truly enjoyed Hell’s Gate. My kind of book. Bill Schutt and J.R. Finch are two of the best adventure writers to come along in a long time. They blend action and science into a read that opens the door to much, much more.”—Clive Cussler

“This one pushes the envelope to the edge and beyond, with tension and imagination that crackles from the first page. A terrific story, terrifically told. So take a walk on the perilous side, if you dare.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The 14th Colony

“Scientifically accurate, and chillingly real; Schutt and Finch amplify the many perils that come with any expedition into the unknown. I dashed through Hell’s Gate—cover to cover—with white-knuckle fear of what might be lurking on the next page. I’d be surprised if this thing weren’t made into the scariest movie anyone ever saw. It’s written cinematically, and it’s full of surprises, and with a story depth that makes it relatable on so many levels. Brace yourself, this is no ordinary thriller. —Darrin Lunde, author of The Naturalist.

Kirkus Reviews  (Starred Review)

A World War II thriller with plenty of action and suspense in a most unusual setting. In 1944, Capt. R.J. “Mac” MacCready, a tropical zoologist with a Cornell Ph.D., is sent deep into Brazil’s Amazon region to find out what a huge Japanese submarine is doing there. The I-400 is believed to have a hangar big enough to hold three floatplane bombers, and it has run aground in the mud. So Mac’s boss tells him to “find out what those Axis bastards are up to.” They’re up to a lot, as it happens. Mac guesses the sub was headed to Portão do Inferno, or Hell’s Gate (a real place). “What could possibly go wrong?” he asks himself sarcastically. Again, a lot. Think launch rails for missiles that might turn the tide on Germany’s Russian front and destroy entire American cities. Think evil Nazis and sentient vampire bats that take over parts of humans’ brains. Think giant man-eating turtles, vampire caves that have guano galore and are crawling with—well, never mind. Just think Indiana Jones. For that matter, this yarn evokes more than a few reminders of Stephen King, Joseph Conrad, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Readers will roll their eyes at the implausibility of certain details, but in a “Reality Check” after the epilogue, the authors convincingly explain themselves. For example, it won’t spoil the story to know that they revived a few species from extinction just for the telling of the tale, and they say there is historical basis for the Nazi project depicted. If this book is ever made into a movie, and it should be, it will have plenty of spectacular visuals and gross-out scenes. 3-D would be nice. Fast-moving fun for thriller readers who enjoy a bit of horror and seeing bad guys get what’s coming to them.

Publisher’s Weekly (Starred review)

Vertebrate zoologist Schutt (Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures) makes his fiction debut with an exceptional crypto-zoological thriller, coauthored with the pseudonymous Finch, a painter and cave explorer. In 1944, U.S. Army Capt. R.J. MacCready, a zoologist, travels to Brazil on a mission to investigate a Japanese submarine, large enough to transport three bombers. The vessel was abandoned by German forces deep in the jungle near Hell’s Gate, the mysterious region where Col. Percy Fawcett and his team vanished during his search for the fabled City of Z in the 1920s. Meanwhile, some strange creatures, known to the natives of the target area as chupacabra, have begun picking off German soldiers. The biological basis for the monsters is solid, and the unusual effect they have on the minds of their prey is a plausible extrapolation from known species. The authors adeptly balance science and suspense, and a detailed afterword lays out how much of the story line is based in history. Michael Crichton fans will be pleased that the ending leaves room for a sequel.


In 1944, a Japanese submarine is found abandoned in the heart of the Brazilian jungle, and a scientist is sent to obtain answers. When Captain R. J. MacCready parachutes into the site, he finds former friend and colleague Bob Thorne, who was presumed dead years earlier. Thorne lives in the jungle, has married an indigenous woman, and will prove an ally in the adventure that unfolds. MacCready, whose investigation of the sub uncovers a bold plot to end the war and guarantee an Axis victory, could develop into a fun series lead—he has a wisecrack at the ready for any occasion… Coauthors Schutt and Finch are experts in the sciences, and the scenes involving the biology behind what’s really going on in the jungle—there’s a touch of horror in the mix—are fascinating…

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