The Last Savanna

The Last Savanna ISBN: 9781627040082 Mandevilla Press (Earlier published by Headline Book Publishing [London] in slightly different form as The Ivory Hunters), an e-book by Mike Bond,

Plot: MacAdams is one of those long-time immigrant residents from England who could never leave Africa. His wife, Dorothy, an alcoholic and no longer able to take it, leaves for England where their two sons now reside when Mac decides to again aid the government. He joins his long-time friend Nehemiah to attempt to save the wildlife from the illegal poachers – a new breed armed with AK-47’s. On a foray they are partially successful, but he obtains a chest wound and several broken ribs when charged by a cape buffalo. It is discovered that three of the Somali poachers who escaped with ivory also had killed most of an archeological group and kidnapped a woman member, with whom he retained strong emotional ties after an earlier clandestine love attachment. In spite of his severe injuries, he decides to attempt to rescue her and the story follows in detail the ensuing chase ending as might well be expected.

Discussion: The entire tale is perhaps one of the most complete word pictures of a country/persons, this reviewer ever has read. Africa and its inhabitants are depicted simultaneously with all of the beauty, ugliness and both necessary and seemingly often unnecessary cruelty generated within its boundaries by its various life forms. An Elan gradually approaches a stream to quench its thirst. It is killed by an old lioness, who in turn suffers the same fate from a magnificent young beast, only to be killed by a native’s spear because the hide will provide enough to pay for his two boy’s schooling. Regrettably, he too is killed by a raiding Somali’s AK-47. All of this action along with accompanying thoughts interestingly and quite minutely described. The author further beautifully presents the totally engulfing hold that the continent seems to exert on some individuals. “On the equator the days pass one like the next. You come here young, marry, raise a family, die and leave no tracks. Occasionally you go “home”, to London and the Cotswold mists….. After a few weeks you wake up one day and decide to go back to Africa – the rest is just a game. Like malaria, Africa. Once bitten you can never shake it. Yet Africa is dying, taking the fever with it. Have no attachments, MacAdam knew the Maasai said: see the world as it passes, not siding with lion or gazelle. A century ago the whites came, ploughed and fenced the savanna, cut the forests, grazed their ignorant cattle where the wildebeest had roamed. They killed the warriors and made the docile ones clerks, told them we nailed God to a tree because he threatened to free us from our sins. What are sins?” the Maasai answered. God is the land, the trees, the mountains, the animals, the sky, the rivers and the rain. How do you nail this to a tree?” Now the land, the trees, the animals are gone: the whites were right – God’s not so hard to kill.

And now most of the whites had gone, too, leaving behind them a plague to finish off what they had begun …allowed the week to survive, populations to explode, the limitless savannas and jungles cut into tiny shambas where swollen families burnt and hacked the vegetation, then clung to the malnourished soil till it eroded to bedrock” and nothing is but dust. In other words, the author has provided a story that is sad but factual, full of suspense and action but with much about which to ruminate. It is well-written. Probably could have profited from judicious editing but then again such action could interfere with the ruminations to which the material could lead the contemplative reader. The more pragmatic reader probably will find too much that is too difficult to accept.

Summary: A most unusual and descriptively detailed story some readers will discover to be most intriguing.

4*    5* Intriguing for some; 3* flawed, possibly extensively, for others as described.

 

Hush Child

Hush Child, Kindle Direct Publishing, a mystical, spiritual, mystery of a somewhat allegorical nature by David Halverson.

Plot: The tenure of the story is set with a quote from Malachi 5:4-6: “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents: or else I will come and strike the earth with a curse.” The story then opens with a man whose face is marred with distinctive scars placing his hand on the prostitute’s shoulder and saying “She will be named Anna. I will return when she is eleven.” He leaves, drives his Jeep from Manhattan to a West Side high-rise apartment where he moves to his balcony and begins taking pictures with a high-powered camera of an adjacent apartment. The view is of a woman, man and young girl sitting at the breakfast table. It is the girl Mara’s 5th birthday. In the next chapter the reader finds the disgruntled teen Mara glancing at the clock and deciding to leave a restaurant because someone had not shown. She passes a vagrant who “gawps” at her and asks “Are you Mara?” and follows with “You look just like your mother.” He is late for their meeting, persuades her to return to the restaurant and he continues that his name is Judah and had been married to her mother Cora, and would explain why he had lost touch. From this point the story unfolds as we follow this man who had been incarcerated for eight years and until now had not discovered anything worth sobering up for until this daughter becomes the 25th victim of a serial kidnapper/killer. He along with Summer Durand, a street smart detective, embarks upon attempting to find her along with Summer’s own daughter who also becomes a victim. Along the way, Judah becomes a ‘born again Christian’ and the tale gradually expands to involve numerous other characters. Some are victims, others, many in high official positions, enter the story and the author additionally expounds on many factors including involvement in the moral state of existence as encountered in today’s society, a look at humanity’s future as it lies under the “Curse”, and as with perestroika in Russia, one “…cannot bring about sweeping change in government that has been long entrenched within their respective mode of operation and not bring about cataclysmic chaos and wreckage.” He then continues with details about “the Perestroika Movement that erupted within American scholarship in the year 2000.” The action continues shifting from scene to scene and includes quite graphic details of sadistically motivated anatomical destruction along with the other activity as Judah somewhat emulates Jesus and eventually a number of the secondary ‘protagonists’ proceed together “…to begin to usher in a new era, where the curse will begin to roll back.”

Discussion: The author has set forth a scathing, and quite probably true, assessment of society as it exists today. It is a story of good versus evil with the good embodied in a derelict who ‘has seen the light’ to become ‘a man of God’; the evil, a depraved, sadistic, Satan-like character. A large part of the tale is presented in a somewhat unreal (?), ethereal (?), spiritual manner and as a whole in a way that no doubt will intrigue readers with a certain mind set. Regrettably, although the thoughts behind the story are totally embraced by this reader, a somewhat more ‘disciplined’ approach would have made it more enjoyable. A caveat also must be provided for readers with respect to the inclusion of graphic anatomical destruction and also perhaps for the reader who may be ‘uncomfortable’ with religious discussions.

3* 4* Intriguing, scathing assessment of today’s society enjoyable for most; caveat(s) as explained.