Octopus Hill edition 1 - click for a bigger version Octopus Hill edition 2 - click for a bigger version Octopus Hill edition 3 - click for a bigger version Octopus Hill German Edition VON AFFEN GEBISSEN - click for a bigger version Octopus Hill Finnish Edition KUOLEMAN VIIDAKKO - click for a bigger version Octopus Hill Swedish Edition DÖDENS DJUNGEL - click for a bigger version
  • Cover Notes

Inga Brandt looked as though she belonged to the world of cameras and action, Maseratis, Martinis and rich sun-tanned men. As Morgan stepped into the departure lounge at Heathrow to take the jet to Balindi, Inga's firm, voluptuous body compacted against his...and set off a fire-bomb blaze of treachery and raw sex as Morgan moved to blast out a deadly secret in the newly-independent African country of Ruba.
Somewhere in the fragile independent stae of Ruba, one of the best agents of Britain's Secret Service had died a hideous death - lacerated by a pack of hunger-crazed baboons.
And beneath Octopus Hill, protected by the savagery of the baboons, the Chinese Communists had set up an underground headquarters from where the revolution could spread out like sinewy tentacles to embrace the whole of Africa...

The German edition cover notes don't quite sell it so well! They roughly translate as; " Inga is excitingly pretty. Her looks would belong in the world of films, luxury cars and rich men. When she meets Morgan she doesn't yet know that they will fight a battle together with grace - a battle against a superior opponent. After one of the best British Agents in Africa is hideously murdered: by Apes..."

The Swedish & Finnish edition is even more mangled by Google Translate; "In the newly-born African state of Ruba, a British agent has died a horrible death ... become torn by Baboons, mad by hunger. Secret Service sends down a new man - and get reports that there is something out in the jungle that can turn the black continent into a chaos of power and terror. "The threat must be eliminated - at all costs" is the order that is received by Mike Morgan"

  • Number Of Editions

Re-printed in the UK at least 3 times and with three different covers that we've found. The book was also sold to some European Publishers so there are three foreign versions
- German "Von Affen Gebissen" (Bitten By Apes).
- Finnish "Kuoleman Viidakko" (Dead Jungle).
- Swedish "Dodens Djungel" (Dead Jungle).

  • Marks out of 10 for Cover

 In The original red cover Michael doesn't really look that tough..in fact he looks a bit like a Thunderbird puppet (big head narrow shoulders etc) however he is firing a MASSIVE rifle, so we certainly wouldn't mess with him either way. Inga is cowering helpless in the background with Tarj comforting her and her somewhat exposed cleavage 5/10. The second edition cover is designed to match the layout of the Mission To Katuma jacket - gone is Michael's weedy Tracy Island physique and his gigantic firearm - this time he has resorted to bare knuckles! I can only assume he is about to punch a baboon. Go Michael! Again Inga is cowering helpless in the background - but Tarj is nowhere to be seen - likewise her cleavage 8/10!! The third UK paperback edition is very ape-centric. A large nasty looking baboon seems to be carrying a smaller (but equally annoyed looking) baboon in it's teeth. Michael Morgan again seems ready to punch their lights out despite the fact he more resembles that fella from "On The Buses" than a secret agent! Inga cowers at his feet in a skirt that does little to hide her modesty. 6/10. The German version (Von Affen Gebissen) features Michael Morgan in a dapper white jacket looking over a somewhat deceased-looking blond girl - who, as Stan himself pointed out, doesn't actually feature in the novel. The extra German text translates as "they follow the trail of the dead and run into an infernal ambush" 9/10. The Finnish version (Kuoleman Viidakko) is strange because Michael Morgan looks like a middle-aged Norman Wisdom! 5/10.

  • Our Review

 Michael Morgan is a member of MI6's Special Strike Group, and along with his partner Tarja Rankatcharyan (a Nepalese Ghurka) they are sent to the fictional African state of Ruba to investigate the death of one of their colleagues. The story is based around the Cold War paranoia that Communist states were infiltrating fledgling African countries struggling to get to grips with independence in the late 60's/early 70's.

Stan freely admits that the novel's location is based on the Tobacco Farm he worked on in Kenya - and the foreword of the book talks about an actual communist plot in Kenya to destabilise the country.

Michael Morgan is much as you'd expect, charismatic, sexy and a ladies man. In fact his inability to resist the lovely Swede Inga results in him cheating death, which would have brought the book to a premature close.

In the book, Stan describes Michael as a man whose looks "excited women. Tall and dark-haired, he radiated a sleek, intrinsic strength, an almost arrogant self-possession that fascinated them, sometimes angered them, not infrequently frightened them and almost ALWAYS attracted them". What a guy!

Oh and one other point to note - Michael Morgan's favourite tipple?? The ubiquitous Vodka Tonic!

Octopus Hill was actually Stan's first novel, which had previously been rejected until The Sewing Machine Man took off and suddenly Mayflower were quite happy to cash in. As a result even Stan admitted that the writing was rather flowery in places. You can certainly tell by the follow-up Michael Morgan book (Mission To Katuma) that the style changed to be more in keeping with the Tobins.

  • Rating on the MORGANOMETER
8/10 - a good honest James bond style adventure romp through a foreign country where the women are beautiful and the baddies are there to be ruthlessly disposed of!