I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Ivory Ghost by Caitlin O'Connell
Genres: Crime, Mystery
Published by Alibi, Random House Pages: 240
In a blockbuster debut thriller brimming with majestic wildlife, village politics, and international intrigue, a chilling quadruple homicide raises the stakes in the battle to save Africa’s elephants.
Still grieving over the tragic death of her fiancé, American wildlife biologist Catherine Sohon leaves South Africa and drives to a remote outpost in northeast Namibia, where she plans to face off against the shadowy forces of corruption and relentless human greed in the fight against elephant poaching. Undercover as a census pilot tracking the local elephant population, she’ll really be collecting evidence on the ruthless ivory traffickers.
But before she even reaches her destination, Catherine stumbles onto a scene of horrifying carnage: three people shot dead in their car, and a fourth nearby—with his brain removed. The slaughter appears to be the handiwork of a Zambian smuggler known as “the witchdoctor,” a figure reviled by activists and poachers alike. Forced to play nice with local officials, Catherine finds herself drawn to the prickly but charismatic Jon Baggs, head of the Ministry of Conservation, whose blustery exterior belies his deep investment in the poaching wars.
Torn between her developing feelings and her unofficial investigation, she takes to the air, only to be grounded by a vicious turf war between competing factions of a black-market operation that reaches far beyond the borders of Africa. With the mortality rate—both human and animal—skyrocketing, Catherine races to intercept a valuable shipment. Now she’s flying blind, and a cunning killer is on the move.
White dust settled like a fresh layer of snow on the gray bushes lining an infinite stretch of unpaved road.
What I thought of this book
This was a debut novel from this author and I thought she did very well. I could definitely tell that she knows her way around Africa, elephants and poaching. That being said some times I thought it was a bit to much and slowed the pace a bit. I really felt like I went on a safari through parts of Africa right from my couch as I read this book which was really fun because I haven’t ever been there and probably won’t ever go there, so that was cool.
Catherine took a new job to sort of forget a bit of her past. Her fiance was killed and she just needs a new start. She takes a pretty dangerous job going to a remote outpost in northeast Namibia. First thing that happens to her is her car breaks down and she finds some dead bodies. Not a great way to start a new adventure.
Poaching of elephants for their ivory is a horrid thing and something that is going on a lot where Catherine is and she is going to do her best to stop it. Meanwhile she is really there to be a pilot and take census of the elephants and record mortality rates but she gets herself wrapped up in the illegal ivory trade and a lot of danger.
Jon Baggs, head of the Ministry of Conservation and Catherine knock heads right from the start. He yells and yells and is very mean. He eventually lightens up a bit, but he really just doesn’t like someone else coming in and trying to do his job.
Jon eventually becomes a love interest in the novel and to be honest I just didn’t feel it. He was so brash one moment and then the next moment he is hanging out with her like he never yelled at her. Even by the end of the novel I still wasn’t really feeling the connection that I would want between main characters.
The story has a lot of great secondary characters and there are clues along the way to help you try and figure out who it might have been that was on the wrong end of the ivory trade. Sometimes though you think it is a couple of other people but in the end I was pretty sure I was right about who it was and I was. 🙂
Over all I enjoy it even though I thought it was a bit slow in places. For those of you who cringed at the thought of reading a book about poaching, there was a little bit about it but I didn’t find it to be to graphic. I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good mystery and a trip to Africa all rolled up in one.