About the Book:
Joanne Flack is on the run – suspected of stealing a rare African plant thought to be extinct and worth millions of dollars.
Sonja Kurtz is hired by the CIA to hunt down Joanne and find the link between the missing plant and a terrorist group hiding out in South Africa.
Joanne is a member of the Pretoria Cycad and Firearms Appreciation Society who take it upon themselves to track down the plant … and the traitor in their midst who is willing to kill for it.
High action and tense from the get-go, Last Survivor is the type of thriller I usually worry I won’t keep up with – too much happening to too many characters, but I see now why Tony Park is in the top shelf of his genre. He writes in an engaging manner, the story clipping along at a fast pace but with the essentials all woven in tightly so that the amateur thrill seeker (ie. Me) can follow along and settle in for the duration. Because I’m going to be honest, what I know about guns, terrorism, poaching, and international smuggling rings could easily fit on a thimble. But Tony Park has made allowances for this and the end result is a writing style that entertains and imparts useful information at the same time.
‘That was the thing about Africa – and life – Sonja mused. One minute everything was peace, love and happiness, and the next second people were dying.’
I really love novels about Africa. I’m quite a fan of Australian author T.M. Clark, whose stories are a blend of African adventure and crime with a bit of romantic suspense thrown in. What T.M. Clark and Tony Park have in common is that they both have extensive lived experience of Africa and this shows in their work. Africa is a character itself, with all of the beauty and heartache, a paradox of a place that is forever changing. I particularly loved that about this novel, the intimacy with Africa, the honest reality, and the sheer affection Tony has for this place coming off the page in waves. I had a such a firm sense of place whilst reading which was a real treat, to be honest.
‘That’s the problem with elephants… Endangered or near-extinct across most of Africa where they’re persecuted, and causing a problem through over-breeding where they’re protected.’
The story that unfolds in Last Survivor is quite layered and utterly gripping. The characters were all a lot tougher than I’m used to but they seemed authentic in a way that conveyed the places they were from and the living they’d done – and they were all older and wiser; no freshly hatched glamorous assassins around here! I was a bit stunned by the extent of poaching and its links to terrorism as a means to finance weapons and further destruction. It’s quite depressing to be honest, to contemplate the capitalist nature of terrorism because it gives me this sense of hopelessness, that it can’t ever be quashed or eliminated. I didn’t know much about the extent of civil war throughout Africa either, my knowledge only going so far as a few key events that have been covered by international media. But it’s not until you read novels like this, ones written by people who live in Africa, that you can appreciate how horrifying life has been for Africans, betrayed by their governments, tortured by insurgents and rebel forces, torn apart and forced to flee. The corruption is extensive, as is the misconception passed on from international news feeds. No matter the genre, it’s the manner in which the novel conveys the bigger picture, and in this, Tony Park excels.
For someone who only dabbles in thrillers and action adventure, it’s no small thing to announce that Tony Park is now on my must-read list. Fortunately, I have at least one other of his already on my shelf, but more will soon be joining it.
Thanks is extended to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of Last Survivor for review.
About the Author:
Tony Park was born in 1964 and grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, a press secretary, a PR consultant and a freelance writer. He also served 34 years in the Australian Army Reserve, including six months as a public affairs officer in Afghanistan in 2002. He and his wife, Nicola, divide their time equally between Australia and southern Africa. He is the author of seventeen other African novels.
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia
Released 30th June 2020