Tepui won First Place
in the 2004 Adult Genre Novel competition
of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association

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John Oehler

Tepui Summary

In 1559, forty-nine Spaniards exploring a tributary of the Orinoco River reached a sheer-sided, cloud-capped mountain called Tepui Zupay.  When they tried to climb it, all but six of them were slaughtered by Amazons.  Or so claimed Friar Sylvestre, the expedition’s chronicler.  But Sylvestre made many bizarre claims: rivers of blood, plants that lead to gold.

Jerry Pace, a burn-scarred botanist struggling for tenure at UCLA, thinks the friar was high on mushrooms.  Jerry’s best friend, the historian who has just acquired Sylvestre’s journal, disagrees.  He plans to retrace the expedition’s footsteps, and wants Jerry to come with him.  Jerry refuses, until he spots a stain between the journal’s pages — a stain left by a plant that died out with the dinosaurs.  He has to find that plant.  And when the patron who funded the journal’s purchase sends a seductive blond to accompany them, Jerry’s interest heats up even higher.

But the Venezuelan wilderness does not forgive intruders.  Their canoe capsizes, they lose their gear, a deranged Dutchman vows to slit their throats.  And their trip has just begun.  Battered and broken, they reach a remote Catholic orphanage, where the old prioress warns of death awaiting any who would venture farther.  But an exotic Indian girl leads them on, through piranha-infested rivers and jungles teaming with poisonous plants, to Tepui Zupay — the forbidden mountain no outsider has set eyes on since the Spaniards met their doom.

Tepui Reviews


“Tepui is a cracking good story. and while it is somewhat reminiscent of Jurassic Park it is refreshingly original. The writing is crisp, the characters are compelling, the plot engaging, and the historic and scientific details are fascinating, without being overbearing. The story drew me in from the very first paragraph. It is a book I could recommend to my published friends, and my writing students.”
— Robert Vaughan, bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize nominee, and 1998 inductee into the Writers Hall of Fame

“For sheer brilliance of ideas, John Oehler stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Dan Brown. Oehler’s writing is powerful and meticulous, his characters compassionate, enticing, and sexy. His supporting characters surprise the reader time and again. Look no further than Tepui for a riveting page-turner.”
— Chris Rogers, bestselling author of Bitch Factor, Chill Factor, and Rage Factor

“Tepui is an action-packed, intelligent, and cutting edge story. I loved it.”
— Robyn Conley-Weaver, bestselling author of What Really Matters To Me: A Guided Journal