Elephant-poaching, gunrunning and romantic derring-do in Africa, 1920.
Plucky Jade del Cameron (Mark of the Lion, 2006), on assignment for The Traveler, leaves the English expats decked out in evening wear in Nairobi to photograph herds of elephants in the Northern Territory. Her first sighting is ghastly. Not only have the elephants been butchered for their ivory tusks by poachers, but a new recruit from the Protectorate’s Africa Rifle patrol has also been slaughtered. It’s the work of Abyssinian raiders or a bloody reprisal by a warring tribal faction, says Capt. Smythe of the patrol that ventures to the site. Jade blames Harry Hascombe, her would-be lover, who’s leading a safari of gun-toting, squabbling, lust-crazed Germans through the bush. Poisoned arrows are shot at Jade; her 12-year-old pal Jelani, responsible for babysitting Harry’s pet cheetah Biscuit, is ambushed; and limping ex-pilot Sam Featherstone swoops in—to film the elephants? Or to court Jade? Following old elephant trails pointed out by mysterious, ubiquitous guide Boguli, Jade, aka Simba Jike (“lioness” in Swahili), discovers a cache of Mauser rifles and more butchered pachyderms, then learns a trio is missing from the German safari. Are they in the poachers’ sights? The slave-traders’? Jade does her best to find out, but vengeance will belong to Boguli.
It’s hard to respect a heroine who swears by yelling, “Sweet Millard Fillmore on a tightrope!” The poaching/elephant lore, however, is unimpeachable.