Kirkus Star


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A big, brawny, brutal book already on its way to Hollywood with a high price tag, is full of many things- from sex to dark ritual, big game hunting to the dreadful violence of the Mau Mau, and along with some very untidy writing- is still charged with a strong story and some very real feeling about black and white Africa. And the whole terror of the Mau Mau, not a local brush fire but a revolt against the white man's world which had taken away old traditions without giving ""something of value"" in return, is personalized through the story of the McKenzies, the children of a successful farmer--Lisa who grows up to marry Jeff Newton. Peter who becomes a professional hunter and whose safaris take in women and whisky as well as wild animals. The return- from England- of Holly Keith, makes Peter willing to settle down, but their marriage never gets off to a fair start when the next day, Jeff and two of the children are killed, Lisa is left half dead and mutilated by Kimani- the native companion of Peter's childhood. With the epidemic spread of violence, a few white men- Peter among them- take to the hills to hunt Kikiyu instead of rhino, use conjure for conjure, torture for torture. Peter, haggard, racked, and often drunk, comes home only for a night here and there to find that Holly can no longer take the life alone on the farm with an old man, Lisa, and her surviving youngster. The marriage ended, Peter goes off alone to stalk Kimani- kills him with his own hands.... Ruark, who is perhaps under the influence of Hemingway, writes with a rugged masculinity but none of the discipline. But in spite of the undergrowth in which there is a great deal of sanguine detail, the story is not slowed down- nor gentled for more sensitive tastes. A popular potential- and the publishers will beat their own drum.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1955
ISBN: 089966816X
Publisher: Doubleday