by Jill Hedgecock, Program Coordinator Mount Diablo California Writer’s Club jillhedgecock.com Blog: http://writersotj.wordpress.com
In “Bloodhorn” (2017, CIPP, 304 pages, $10.00) by Graham Spence, main character, Chris Stone, is a war veteran trying to live a quiet life as a fisherman’s guide in Alaska with his fiancé, Debra. But his contentment is shattered when across the globe, Debra’s sister, Josie Gordon, a park warden in South Africa, is kidnapped. Josie had grown reckless while trying to identify who has poached a rhino on the game reserve where she works. Her suspicions had led her to spy on an isolated high-end safari lodge run by a notoriously corrupt hunting guide where she was captured by thugs. Upon hearing of Josie’s disappearance, Chris and Debra board a plane headed for Africa.
Chris, recognizing the extent of the danger when he discovers the depth of involvement of big game mafia, enlists a South African private detective and a former Vietnam Green Beret. Chris and his cohort pose as big game hunting enthusiasts as well as wealthy investors interested in the illegal rhino horn trade and contact Venter, the lodge owner. The ruse works. Once inside the heavily-guarded compound, they soon discover that the reclusive mastermind of the supposedly legal hunting lodge is running a corrupt business and exploiting women, essentially turning them into prostitutes once they are employed. Recognizing the need for inside help, Chris befriends one of Venter’s women who has been assigned to “entertain” Chris, promising to help her escape for inside information.
Chris soon discovers that Josie has been smuggled out of Africa on a barge headed to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. He and his men follow her to this country, where rhino horn is revered for its supposed medicinal qualities, when in fact, the material is nothing more than fingernails. Josie is rescued, but the danger is far from over. The group flees through the jungle to escape the mafia. Our unlikely heroes then return to Africa, where game rangers using traditional old-school rifles must defend themselves against the Venter’s thugs.
“Bloodhorn” is an important book about the corruption of big game hunting, particularly the exploitation of rhinos in Africa. It also pays homage to the heroes trying to save wildlife. Graham Spence is a journalist who was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in Mozambique, and lived in South Africa. His other works include “The Elephant Whisperer” and “The Last Rhino” (both co-authored with Lawrence Anthony), “Keepers of the Flame”, and “The Apocalypse Chase” (Chris Stone series Book 1).
He says of “Bloodhorn”, “It combines my love of fly-fishing and wild spaces – not only in the wilderness, but in the anarchy of the mind.” Readers who enjoyed Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series and, of course, fans of “The Last Rhino”, “The Elephant Whisperer”, and my very own “Rhino in the Room” will likely enjoy this book.