When I grow up I want to be part of a group like the Pretoria Cycad and Firearms Appreciation Society!! They are the coolest bunch of ‘oldies’ I’ve ever heard of and nobody would ever try to mess with them! Joanne Flack happens to be a member of this group, and they also just so happen to have a very rare cycad in their care – an female Encephalartos Woodii (pronounced ‘Woodi-eye’) – the very last of its kind to exist. Quite coincidentally the cycad, along with all of the Society’s savings, disappears at exactly the same time as Joanne does, so it’s automatically assumed that she’s the culprit.
It seems that everyone is after this cycad! Joanne is attacked by a jihadist on the streets of London, but unfortunately when she turns the tables things go drastically wrong and she ends up drawing unwanted attention to herself. The CIA hires the services of no-nonsense Sonja Kurtz to go and find her.
There’s an intricately layered story here involving modern-day crime: terrorism, smuggling, arms (the gun and missile type), Islamic training camps, poaching and corruption. I live in South Africa and it all felt very close to home; slightly too close for comfort and very, very real! Tony Park is known for his extensive knowledge of the African continent and in Last Survivor he displays this with outstanding skill. Combining this with his gift for characterisation, it all makes for a thrilling, well-paced read.
Last Survivor has great appeal. Sonja Kurtz is Kickass! Wow, she’s impressive and takes no prisoners! And Park has created the most fabulous band of pensioners that I can’t wait to see again in future books. But he’s also made a plant sound extremely interesting. I found the descriptions of the Cycad world quite fascinating and what initially sounded quite boring, ended up with much more appeal and I gained a deeper understanding of their importance.
Many thanks to Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for inviting me along on the tour and to Pan Macmillan for my copy of the book.
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Tony Park was born in 1964 and grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. He has worked as a newspaper reporter in Australia and the UK, a press secretary, a PR consultant and a freelance writer. He also served 34 years in the Australian Army Reserve, including six months in Afghanistan in 2002. Tony and his wife, Nicola, divide their time equally between Australia and southern Africa.
He is the author of eighteen thriller novels set in Africa, with more on the way. His latest novel, Last Survivor, was the number one bestelling adult fiction title in South Africa.