REVIEW: The Mongolian Death Worm: On the Hunt in the Gobi Desert: Or, How I Found the Worst Bathroom on Earth and Learned to Love Cheese Flavored Vodka by Pat Spain

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Pat Spain is not a very good dancer. Nor is he a person used to wearing bikini briefs, or wrestling in front of hundreds of nomads and an international TV audience. He is certainly not a person you would expect to find wearing said bikini briefs while dancing in front of said audience, but here we are: On the Hunt in the Gobi Desert. Pat and a National Geographic film crew are searching for the truth behind stories of the Mongolian Death Worm, and to crack this legend Pat will have to wrestle a giant while risking indecent exposure, brave the worlds’ most disgusting long-drop bathroom, eat and drink toxic ‘delicacies’, wrangle a very jumpy electric eel and testy spitting cobra, avoid the temptation to smuggle archeological artifacts and deal with bed-bug and camel-tick infestations while they traverse the least densely populated country in the world, Mongolia.

Dear Mr. Spain, 

After you kindly commented on my review of your book “A Bulletproof Ground Sloth,” and checked into this book’s digital availability, I meant to jump right in it when I got my hands on it. I truly did. But my reviewing schedule can turn into a wicked bitch sometimes (and it’s all my fault as I do this to myself) and this is the first break I’ve allowed myself in months. So … Death Worm it is!

Anyone who has read any of your books will recognize the intro about how you got into “herping,” developed your own animal discovery travel show, and then began working for National Geographic on this series on cryptids. Then the real fun starts as you and your crew head off to wherever in the world you need to go in order to investigate whatever cryptid you’re after. Here it’s Mongolia and, like you when you first began planning this episode, I know so very little about Mongolia. Thank you for taking me through parts of it, introducing me to the Naadam Festival and the wrestling. Yep, I’ve now looked up images of traditionally attired Mongolian wrestlers and those pants are tight. The Mongolian people sound as if they’re amazing hosts, proud of their country and their traditions. 

You did warn about the chapter that focuses on … well, the less savory aspects of the trip. Camel spit, ticks, and the long-drop pit latrine from hell. But I guess if everyone has to face the pit of despair you all came out stronger for it? I would have paid to see the song fueled, vodka drinking dinner. I’ll skip chasing after camel spiders though. As for the long expired condiments and room temp bacon – what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. 

That was an in depth dive into what animals might have inspired the attributes of a Mongolian Death Worm (and that is so a great metal band name). The explanations that might account for what has been said of them make sense especially that Mongolians generally won’t go looking for or poke at anything that might kill them. No, “Hold my cheese flavored vodka and watch this.” So it’s easy to understand that strange stories can build and develop about unknown creatures that it’s thought best to stay away from. I enjoyed this one a lot and am now sad as I realize I only have one book in the series left unread! B+    


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 25 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there’s no TSTL characters and is currently reading more fantasy and SciFi.

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