The second installment of Winther’s (The Jaguar Dances, 2010) thriller series sees an African vacation take a dangerous turn for an American couple trying to restore their marriage.
An African safari might be just the ticket to get Allison Warner’s life back on track. She’s struggling to recover from the death of her teenage son a year ago, as her husband Burke grows increasingly distant, finding solace in his law practice. The couple embark on an exciting safari along with a rather diverse and bizarre group of tourists; one in particular, handsome Englishman Jeremy Hoskins, makes Allison feel a way she has no business feeling as a married woman. She throws herself recklessly into the safari, soaking in breathtaking landscapes and exotic animals. But it soon becomes apparent that fellow tourists the Kirkpatricks are engaged in something more sinister than sightseeing. Allison and Burke, along with a ragtag gang of travelers, turn amateur detectives as they investigate the Kirkpatricks’ suspicious suitcases, bizarre midnight meetings and erratic behavior. While traveling through the Serengeti en route to their next destination, the unthinkable happens: The tour van is hijacked and the group is kidnapped. Now they must fight for their survival. Winther certainly knows how to keep the pace moving; there’s no shortage of tension as Allison and friends land in one dangerous spot after another. Winther’s well-done descriptions of Africa create a lush, vibrant setting. But the abrupt change in point of view halfway through the novel—from Allison to Burke—is jarring; it would have been better to incorporate both points of view throughout the entire work. Some parts of this story ring strikingly untrue, especially those concerning 10-year-old Trish, who behaves more like a mature teenager and is included in the group’s dangerous sleuthing activities despite her young age. Still, it’s Allison’s metamorphosis from sheltered housewife to courageous woman that truly centers this tale. Her desire to save her marriage, coupled with the lure of the forbidden, will resonate with readers and keep them cheering for her to the novel’s end.
A superb thriller with enough action and suspense to keep readers well-satisfied.