British business tycoon Julianne Clyde-Smith will do anything to save Africa’s endangered wildlife, including setting up an elite anti-poaching squad. Hiring Sonja Kurtz to head up the covert strike force, Julianne gives the former mercenary whatever she needs to take down Africa’s poaching kingpins. As the body count rises, it becomes harder for Sonja and her team to stay under the radar.
When her former flame, safari guide and private investigator Hudson Brand, is hired to investigate the death of an alleged poacher, Sonja is forced to ask herself if Julianne’s wildlife crusade has gone too far.
As the investigation deepens it becomes increasingly apparent that a shadowy underworld syndicate known as the Scorpions are pulling the strings behind Africa’s poaching epidemic. Just as Julianne is intent on wiping out poaching so, too, are the Scorpions concentrating on taking out the women who stand in their way...
One of the big problems in the war on poaching in Africa, just like in many other armed conflicts, is that even though the good guys often know where the bad guys are, they can’t get to them.
Many (though by not means all) of the poachers who kill rhinos in South Africa’s Kruger National Park come from across the border in neighbouring Mozambique.
The South African authorities know the villages where the poachers live (and where the kingpins live in relative splendour and drive expensive 4x4s), but they are not allowed to cross the border into another country to attack or arrest them.
Imagine, then, if there was a billionaire businesswoman who was so dedicated to conserving wildlife and eradicating poaching that she was prepared to bankroll a covert unit of mercenaries to find the poachers and their bosses, put them under surveillance, and arrest them the moment they crossed the border.
And what better person to head up such a unit than my very own kick-ass former mercenary, the fierce Sonja Kurtz.
That was the idea behind ‘The Cull’.
While in the Serengeti National Park in ‘The Cull’, Hudson and Sonja watch a lioness try to catch a Thompson’s gazelle. Here’s the real thing happening in the same place mentioned in the book
The businesswoman, Julianne Clyde-Smith, doesn’t exactly set up a hit squad, but it’s not hard to see how an international military surveillance and reconnaissance squad could morph into a vigilante operation.
As far as possible I write my novels on location – that is, wherever I happen to be in Africa (or elsewhere) when writing is where I set the action on that particular day.
Writing ‘The Cull’ coincided with plans my wife and I and a couple of good friends had to do a long road trip from South Africa to Tanzania. So, it’s no surprise that Sonja and her dogs of war, and love-interest Hudson Brand, find themselves in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania.
I had a lot of fun on the trip and even more writing this book. I visited some incredible places and had some amazing experiences, including seeing about 4,000 wildebeest and zebra cross the Mara River in the Serengeti National Park. Hudson and Sonja witness the same spectacle – I was so moved by what I saw that I wrote it into the book as soon as I had seen it.
There’s a scene in ‘The Cull’ where Sonja and Hudson witness the great wildebeest migration crossing the Mara River. I was lucky enough to see this while writing ‘The Cull’.
In ‘The Cull’ Hudson is living in a friend’s house in a private nature reserve on the edge of the Kruger Park called Hippo Rock. That isn’t a real place, but it bears an uncanny resemblance to the place where I have a house in South Africa.
Read ‘The Cull’ carefully and you’ll find some great places to camp and pick up some helpful hints for an overland safari.
The characters in The Cull say at a lodge inspired by this place, the charming Lakeshore Lodge on the edge of beautiful Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania
Hudson and Sonja enjoy a beer and a little ‘down’ time in the sand here at the Blue Canoe camp in Tanzania at the northern end of Lake Niassa (the body of water also known as Lake Malawi, just across the border).
Yes, Avon Skin So Soft spray on moisturiser really is the best repellent for pesky testse flies (and it leaves your skin feeling so soft).
Come on safari with me and kick a bit of imaginary ass in ‘The Cull’.
Here I am being interviewed on SABC TV about ’The Cull’