A lioness will kill to protect her own. The thrilling new adventure by Tony Park.
Ex-mercenary Sonja Kurtz is out for revenge after her daughter Emma is assaulted by an abalone poacher while on a beachside holiday near Cape Town.
When the poacher is murdered, Sonja is targeted by a violent local gangster and must flee the country.
As Sonja leaves a trail of destruction in her wake – from the threatened wilderness of Zimbabwe to the treacherous beaches of northern Mozambique – a concerned Emma must find the courage to rescue her mother.
But is Sonja a cold-blooded killer? Or is there a darker conspiracy taking place in southern Africa’s underworld – one that will change their lives forever?
The illegal trade in endangered wildlife and natural resources goes way beyond big, iconic species such as rhinos and elephants.
In the past (in 'Last Survivor') I wrote about the trade in endangered plants – cycads – and over the years I've had several people suggest that I tackle the problem of abalone poaching.
Abalone, the shellfish, is prized as a delicacy in certain countries and this fuels a massive, and lucrative, illegal market. While South Africa (a prime source of abalone) has a legal market, with quotas for harvesting, it's been estimated that 35 times as much illegal abalone is shipping out of the country than legally sourced product.
How does it get out, you might ask?
Bizarrely, it is legal to export abalone from neighbouring Zimbabwe, even though it is a landlocked country. Illegal abalone from South Africa is smuggled by road into Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, where it is then shipped overseas. Hong Kong is a major market.
The story gets murkier. In my research I discovered that Chinese Triads and the 'numbers' gangs from the Cape Flats, near Cape Town, are major players in this trade. The Asian gang-lords supply the materials to make methamphetamine, known locally in South Africa as 'Tik', to the local gangsters in exchange for abalone. This fuels a major crime and social problem in The Cape.
I travelled to Cape Town, and to Silver Sands beach (a lovely spot), where the book's opening scenes take place. The more bizarre scenes in the book, such as poachers going about their business in the open, not caring about any laws or law enforcement, are true.
Who better to get in amongst this sinister trade than my very own Sonja Kurtz.
Like me, Sonja is not getting any younger. She's a little creaky in the joints and a little cranky, and wary, as she tries to come to terms with the fact that she may be falling in love again, with her on-again, off-again boyfriend Hudson Brand.
Sonja gets involved when a poacher assaults her daughter, Emma. I've had a few readers wanting to know if Emma will play a bigger role in the Sonja books and she is now well and truly stepping up in 'The Pride'.
This time it's Sonja who's in trouble, and Emma, a chip off the old breech block (that's an army joke) has to join the fray. And who is that mysterious stranger who's following both of them around southern Africa?
I hope you enjoy Sonja and Emma's latest adventure, which takes them to Cape Town, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and learn a little about yet another threat to our precious environment.