Captive by Tony Park
Tony Park specialises in action-packed thrillers set in Africa, and he often examines the problem of poaching and animal conservation in Africa. Captive is no exception. This time Australian lawyer, Kerry Maxwell, flies into South Africa to volunteer at a wildlife orphanage by veterinarian Graham Baird. Kerry is a wide-eyed, eager but naïve volunteer. Graham is a jaded and drunken South African vet, and while he is brilliant at caring for animals, he is cynical about how they can ever stop the poaching, given all the complexities and opposing factions, even amongst the charities.
Kerry arrives in South Africa to discover that Graham is in jail in Mozambique following a shootout with elephant poachers. In the gunfight he killed the brother of corrupt politician and king poacher, Fidel Costa. Fidel demands revenge, but this puts Kerry in extreme danger when she arrives in Mozambique to free Graham. Attacked and kidnapped, Kerry soon learns the complex and bitter truths about the war on poaching.
Captive is a thrilling book, made more gripping as it deals head-on with the war on poaching – because a war it is, and there are many unscrupulous characters involved. But what made the novel more interesting was the well-meaning charities and their different viewpoints on animal conservation. At times it seemed there was almost as much conflict between them than there was on the ground with the poachers and the teams fighting them.
Kerry and Graham are both well-written characters – one young and naïve, the other older and jaded, and their evolving relationship gave the book an emotional heart, especially finding out Graham’s backstory and how it made him the man he is today.
If you like writer’s such as Wilbur Smith, definitely try reading books by Tony Park. He captures the beauty, complexity and danger of Africa, with thrilling novels based on reality.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Macmillan, RRP $34.99