We continue to get closer the Blog Anniversary Celebration - note the sidebar for more details about the giveaways on Sept 15-16th.
I received this book from the publisher and realized this was the latest in a series I have been meaning to read - so I jumped at the chance to review this. Today we travel to Africa in the 1920's for an adventure.
Copyright: September, 2010 (NAL Trade) 377 pgs
Series: # 6 in the Jade del Cameron Mysteries
Sensuality: Some innuendo
Mystery sub-genre: Historical Amateur Sleuth
Main Character: Jade del Cameron (aka Simba Jike), an independent women, former WWI ambulance driver now a motorcycle-riding, knife-throwing photojournalist with her pet Cheetah, Biscuit
Setting: 1921 Nairobi, Kenya (Eastern Central Africa)
Obtained book through: Publisher for an honest review
This book apparently picks up where the last one left off plus a few months. But I was able to pick up the storyline fine without reading the previous books.
The love of Jade's life is a pilot and an amateur film maker named Sam Featherstone. He had left 4 months prior to go back to the States and try to sell his film footage of Africa and his idea for a movie. Jade apparently spent the time in France visiting old battlefields and friends from during the war. While there she had a momentary vision of her dead fiancee, David, who was a casualty of the war and had died in her arms. The story picks up with her staying at Lord and Lady Dunbury's when she receives a letter with her deceased fiancee's clipped obituary notice and the words "Why did you let me die?" written in David's handwriting.
That evening after she seeks some solitude she witnesses a car pushed off a bridge by another car and she finds the man inside the partially sunk vehicle dead. This sets up two separate plots moving simultaneously as Jade continues to get packages etc from the deceased David and there are strange "accidents" happening in the surrounding area that hint at a murderer loose who is leveraging a voracious crocodile to dispose of the bodies of investors in a gold mine. Can it be David's mother who despises Jade and blames her for her son's death who is behind the letters? But what about those visions of David she seems to be having? Then there is the suspicious deaths. What a time for Sam to be in the States chasing his dream!
From his hidden vantage point, the man watched the young American woman called Simba Jike. The name fit not only because she moved with the unconscious fluidity and grace of a lioness but because she held herself with a lion's assurance as well. Only once had he ever seen her truly vulnerable, the day she stood in the deluge of rain at the train depot, watching the American leave her behind. He'd watched, too, recognizing that his opportunity had come.
A slight sound escaped his lips, half-sigh, half groan, born of desire and sorrow.
He'd heard about her and her exploits before he'd ever met her. All the colony talked about her unconventional behavior and attire, and she might have been sunned by Nairobi society but for the approval she'd received from old Lord Colridge and Lord and Lady Dunbury.
Simba Jike in her dusty tan trousers, scuffed boots, khaki shirt, and that worn-out old slouch ranch hat seemed to embody Africa more than the British women in their Paris frocks and flowered straw hats. He'd also heard of her from his lover, who told a different tale. No grudging admiration there, and that was the source of his sorrow.
He could almost feel the strength radiating out of this American, see the pent-up passion. It smoldered inside here, flaring and flashing like green fire from eyes that could be as hard as emeralds or as soft as spring moss. Eyes that inspired desire...
When he first met this Jade del Cameron he'd expected most of the stories to be exaggerations, embellished tales told by needy people longing to draw everyone's attention. Instead, he found the tales fell short of the reality, and he'd come to admire her.
That made his job all the more difficult.
He'd been ordered to break her.
I plunged into this book and found it a great read. The descriptions of Africa on the brink of becoming populated and no longer untouched are expertly portrayed. The plot is solid and, I thought, believable with some nice twists. The characters are perhaps the best part of the book. Jade is brought to life to the extent you expect to find the articles in some archive that she has written for her magazine. Jade is flawed just enough that you become her cheering squad without even realizing it. I have seen Jade compared to a female Indiana Jones, but I can also see her as a female version of Allan Quartermain. The other characters are just as vivid to make the whole a finely woven tapestry. The indigenous people are realistically and carefully drawn which I found refreshing. You get a sense for the undercurrent of tension between the original inhabitants and the British colonial rule which does play its own role in this tale.
The mystery is revealed over time as the story unfolds and just when you think there are no real surprises - BAM you get a twist that got you good. The reveal and climax are nicely intense and get your full attention. If you want to be swept away and enjoy pure escapism, this book will do the trick. I am now craving to read the five that came before this one. If you enjoy historical mysteries or a strong layered heroine, then I think you will enjoy this book as much as I did.
Nairobi in the novel grows up to be a metropolis as you will see in this video. In this story, read about it in its youth when it was less commercial and more the home of the animals and the adventurous explorer.