Sonja Kurtz is a mercenary and is as beautiful and dangerous as the leopard we are introduced to at the start of this novel. She has been hired by billionaire do-gooder Julianne Clyde-Smith to take on poachers across Africa. Julianne has the money and the desire to take on criminals without the rules that governments must abide by and, to many across the world, she is seen as a saint. As the story moves on, we start to see more cracks in that façade – is Julianne really about wiping out poaching or her own business interests?
This is a fast-paced action story that also has some excellent characters and character development. Sonja Kurtz is no perfect Tomb Raider character – she is flawed, cold and logical in her professional decisions but wildly insecure, profoundly mistrustful of even her nearest and dearest and, yes, she is human and bleeds. Hudson Brand is her sometimes-maybe-who-knows partner who, while understanding her foibles, still reacts to her behaviour – in between gun battles!
The third in Park’s series featuring Kurtz is the second also featuring Hudson Brand, whose story also started in another novel, The Hunter. Other characters from Park’s novels are also weaved into this story however it is not absolutely necessary to read all of the previous novels before reading this (though it would be enormously engrossing but time-consuming, as this is Tony Park’s 14th novel).
Park has no issues taking on the hard topics as he has done here – poaching, illegal ivory trade, government corruption and criminal gangs. As a former member of the Australian Army Reserve, which included time in Afghanistan, as well as working as a journalist, there probably isn’t much that he has not seen. He and his wife developed a love for Africa and now divide their time between Sydney and South Africa.
My fabulous friend Denise introduced me to Tony Park a while ago because of my love of Wilbur Smith. She had also previously introduced me to Matthew Reilly’s action adventures. Why I dithered for a while before reading Park’s books, I will never know. Right from the start, I’ve loved them.
I am always slightly trepidatious with a new book from a beloved author. Will it be as good as part novels? If not, is it my tastes that have changed or is it just an average book? Luckily enough, I really enjoyed The Cull and spent a few hours reading that “one more page”. If you’re looking for a story full of action that also has great characters, here it is!
Reviewed by Michelle Baylis
Rating out of 10: 8
Distributed by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: September 2017