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Australian author Tony Park has lived in Africa, and The Hunter is his eleventh novel set in that great continent. His love for Africa’s way of life, its bush and wildlife come through the story boldly and vividly.
‘The Hunter’ is Hudson Brand, a Safari guide and sometime private investigator: it is people he hunts, and wildlife he loves. The blurb on the back cover is misleading – the story line is far more complex than it would have you believe, with counter-twists which surprise and shock, as he follows snippets of sightings to trail a woman who is the beneficiary of a possible life insurance fraud. Some sections are told from his target’s POV, and even so, the final reveal is not easily foreseen.
He himself is subject of a South African police hunt, wanted “for questioning” about murders of prostitutes in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He has to stay one step out of their reach as he continues his pursuit of the fraudster.
There are many side-lines, all threaded through and around this basic thread: Two sisters, who are victims of parental abuse, one a victim of abuse by her sister’s unfaithful and kinky husband; a brother and sister, who are burglars and thieves trying to get money for their mother’s medical costs; and two redneck brothers, one with a penchant for murder.
However, the turns and twists of these people are not the only interactions which pump life into the story. The novel is at its best when focusing on the wildlife, and on the action.
A few proofing errors have slipped through, but they will not jar most readers out of the world in which the novel takes them. The love-making scenes seem to be dropped in as an afterthought – they contribute little to the story – but I suppose the author is trying to draw in all sorts of readers.
Closure comes gracefully in a natural event, and it feels as if the author had at that point written himself into a hole, and came up with a convenience to help the characters, if not the story.
An interesting read, worthwhile for Park’s fans.
Reviewed by Lynne McAnuly-Street
by Tony Park
Published by MacMillan, 2014
Also available as an eBook