26 December 2015
Tony Park: Empty Coast
Tony Park is renowned for his adventure stories set in different parts of Africa and can be relied upon for thrilling stories set in some of the most beautiful but frequently very dangerous places in the world. This story brings back two strong characters from Park's earlier stories - Sonja Kurtz (from "The Delta"), an ex-soldier turned mercenary and Hudson Brand (from "The Hunter"), ex-CIA, now a safari guide who also moonlights in dangerous insurance investigations.
Sonja is in Vietnam on a contract to track down and kill a wealthy businessman who is involved in the illegal smuggling of financially valuable horns from endangered Rhinos into SE Asia.
At the same time, her daughter Emma, a student archeologist, is on a dig at the edge of Namibia's Etosha National Park which discovers a body that dates back to the war of liberation from South Africa in the 1980's. The body has dog tags identifying it as Hudson Brand, but Brand is alive and well living in South Africa. What she doesn't know is that the body could be a vital clue to locating a modern-day lost treasure and when the news is released other dangerous people join in the hunt.
Emma immediately sends an urgent text message to Sonja for her help in finding out what has happened. On her return to Africa after her successful mission, Sonya gets the message from her daughter, but when she gets to Namibia she finds that Emma has disappeared. Brand also finds out about the discovery and goes to Namibia as well because he knows more about the victim from his time in the civil war. Both Sonya and Brand have to face up to their own past history in Namibia and must join up to find Emma.
Once again this is an exciting and frequently page-turning adventure set mostly in the game reserves of Southern Africa. This time, the action also moves to the "Skeleton Coast" on the Atlantic seaboard of Namibia, in one of the dryest and most inhospitable deserts in the world.
I am a fan of Tony Park's work, especially as it tells me a lot about Africa, its wildlife, the environment and its frequently very violent history. This one has an especially important environmental message about the ongoing battle to prevent the unnecessary slaughter of critically endangered Rhinos for their horns.