A sudden decision to take a job in the South American rain forest only increases a young woman’s angst.
Emma Parks, who’s just finished up a stint with the Peace Corps, is depressed over the death of her closest friend. About to leave Suriname, she runs into Dr. Alice Buchanan, a biological anthropologist who offers her a job as a research assistant studying spider monkeys at Kasima National Park. Accepting even though she has no experience in the field, Emma finds herself at a remote outpost with a diverse group of people who are often at each other’s throats. She’s instantly attracted to Nick, a handsome Australian who serves as Dr. Buchanan’s second-in-command. At a party to celebrate the takeover of the park by International Wildlife Conservation, Emma meets the charismatic Jack West, who plans to kick Dr. Buchanan and her team out of the park. A romantic interlude with Nick on the riverbank turns into a desperate search when Emma jumps into the river to save West, who’s being swept away, but loses him in the rapids. When his body is found at last, it’s clear that he’s been murdered. While the authorities investigate, research goes on, and Emma is both exhilarated and frightened by her work. Deep in the forest, she faces more danger from new companions who make it hard to distinguish friend from foe. A second murder leaves Emma fighting for her life.
This debut from McClintock, who served in the Peace Corps and worked on a monkey research project, has the ring of authenticity, along with romance and a mystery that keeps you guessing.