Only a reality TV producer and an expert safari guide can stop a terrorist attack.
Every adventure starts at the fringes of civilization. For expert safari guide Mbuno and wildlife television producer Pero Baltazar, filming in the wild of East Africa should have been a return to the adventure they always loved. This time they'd be filming soaring vultures in Northern Kenya and giant sea crocodiles in Tanzania with Mary, the daughter of the world's top television evangelist, the very reverend Jimmy Threte. But when a terrorist cell places them in the crosshairs, there is suddenly no escape, and they must put their filming aside and combine all their talents to thwart an all-out al-Shabaab terrorist attack on Jimmy Threte's Christian gathering of hundreds of thousands in Nairobi, Kenya. The problem is Pero has a secret - he's been working as a clandestine courier for the US State Department for years. If anyone finds out, it may get them all killed.
Exciting and expertly plotted, Murder on Safari is a gripping, edge-of-your-seat thriller set in the great wide-open plains of East Africa.
This author starts out writing a "Heart of Darkness" tale of the African Continent, spinning historical references to the Colonial and post-Colonial East-African epoch like an old master (Joseph Conrad or Graham Greene come to mind). I was enthralled for two hours. Then, the devolution set in. The story rapidly degenerated into unrealistic terror plots against Christian pilgrims in Nairobi, Kenya. It got real weird when the hero, a cinematographer, starts doing all sorts of heroic deeds without the essential history that make his deeds plausible. Ultimately, the story devolves into a stream of consciousness ramble about good guys (doing amazing stuff) and bad guys (doing horrendous evil). Feh! BTW…we never meet the bad guys…they are just names and planted bombs.
I truly enjoy fiction set in Africa. I have read and listened to countless novels and non-fiction retells about the "Dark Continent." However, "Murder on Safari" is in the bottom 10% on my list of recommendations.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
After listening to Peter Riva's 'The Path' a week or so ago, I was not sure what Murder on Safari had in store for me.
I must say, I enjoyed this book much more!
The story starts out slowly, setting the scene, and introducing all the important characters. However, quickly grows into one of intrigue and mystery as we travel with Pero Baltazar and his team through Africa ending in Nairobi, Kenya.
The characters are well defined and their interaction is seamless. The drama and suspense builds rapidly until the ultimate ending. Will they be successful in their quest?
The narrator R. D. Watson does a brilliant job conveying the individual characters, with the emotions realistic, and it is easy to follow the changes in character.
The narration in this, done by R. D. Watson was intense. He has a very “horror” deep and mysterious voice (which I liked a lot). The story was made more interesting with his narration voice. Quality was great — no issues at all.
This was a gripping and exciting story. You start, not sure what was going to happen — and when things start to play out you can’t believe what you are reading. I enjoy a good thriller, and I’ve read a lot of stories that usually have a setting in Africa (A lot of Bio-Thrillers begin there). But I’ve never combined to two. I’m glad I did. This book was raw and thrilling, and kept my heart racing through the night.
I like when an author can write different genres well. You would never know that Riva also wrote a Science Fiction/Technothriller book (that I just reviewed recently). After reading this, I will definitely be adding Riva to my list of “to read” authors.
I received this book from iRead Book Tours & the author for free in exchange for my honest review.
I received a free copy of the audiobook for an honest review.
Pero Baltazar is a film producer working on a nature film in Africa for a reality TV show. When one of his crew members is murdered, he covers up the murder so that there won’t be political problems and, more importantly, to insure that the family will receive insurance money. His crew leaves as soon as they can to continue with their filming schedule and so that they don’t raise suspicion while they try to solve the murder. What they find out is that there is much more than one murder to solve.
The plot was interesting once I got into the book. I like how the story progressed, although I did get bogged down in the details often. I kept finding my mind wandering. It is obvious that Peter Riva is knowledgeable about Africa and I liked learning about it, but sometimes it was a bit too much (that is a personal preference). This is the second book of Peter Riva’s that I’ve listened to and, again, I don’t know if I would have had the patience to read through it, so I’m glad I listened to the book, especially since it had an exciting ending.
R.D. Watson was a good narrator once I got used to his voice. He did a good job at the different voices and voicing their emotions.
Pero Baltazar is a wildlife film producer and this time he is working in northern Kenya, specifically trying to film large raptors and carrion birds. His local expert guide and friend of multiple decades, Mbuno, thinks there may be trouble brewing in the area. When the film crew loses a man in suspicious circumstances, they need to make some decisions and then a hasty exit. Trouble follows them into Tanzania where they are filming large crocodiles with world-renowned crocodile expert Mary. She also happens to be the daughter of a top TV evangelist, Jimmy Threte, and it looks like a terrorist organization may be targeting one or both of them.
This was a pretty interesting book for several reasons. We have the whole setting, which was done pretty well. The author didn’t gloss over the cultural differences, the good, or the bad. Then there is the wildlife, which my inner biologist thrilled to hear about. The characters, for the most part, were multi-dimensional and interesting. The plot, while it slowed in a few places, was well thought out and there were some surprises tossed in there.
The setting was multi-layered and complex. We have a lot of cultures and some interesting history that has shaped both Kenya and Tanzania. While we see the entire story through the eyes of Pero, he has filmed in these two countries before over the last few decades and has friends and pseudo-enemies (or at least, people he has to bribe upon sight) in the area. He’s not ignorant of the local languages and customs, but nor is he an expert. He relies heavily on his good friend Mbuno, who is the expert. that friendship and trust becomes pretty important during the story. Mbuno gives us a look into local culture while also still being able to relate to it. He’s a tracker as well as having contacts in nearly every city, town, and village. More than once, his abilities keep the crew alive.
Obviously, Pero and Mbuno are the stars of this book. I felt the most connected to these two. The author also did a good job of making side characters personable or, at least, memorable. Plenty of characters had both good and bad traits. For instance, a lot of folks expect or even demand bribes and yet that is how things work. Normally, I would put bribery in the bad category, but several characters rely on this type of transaction in order to get things done. It was very interesting to see how that worked in practice.
Our first female character, a vehicle rental business owner, doesn’t make an appearance until perhaps 1/4 of the way into the book. She was a minor character, even if she had lots of personality. Then finally we get Mary well into the book, perhaps as much as 1/3 of the way. She has a great personality and gets a scene or two to show us readers her biology expertise. There’s a few more female characters here and there, all minor. The ones who get to talk are written well and so I don’t know why the author is so shy in using female characters. Additionally, Mary is the only character through out the book that shows some skin, unless you count Pero’s comedic medical issue at the very end. Also, the women cry, need comforting, and occasionally faint. So, yes, in general they are interesting and well written, and yet the author still sometimes falls back on cliches.
The plot held my attention for most of the book. We start off basically on a safari with a knowledgeable film crew and I simply enjoyed soaking in the atmosphere. Then we have the mysterious death that sets off all the other events. We learn very early on that Pero has historically done very small jobs for interested governments – such as dropping off notes or making note of whether or not a certain political figure stayed at the same hotel as himself. In this tale, Pero’s role and, hence, his contacts will come into the big picture. This kind of spy stuff was a nice added touch to the plot and it totally worked with the terrorist plot that takes over the second half of the book. There were some twists and turns I didn’t see coming and those were exciting problems to see the crew take on and conquer.
So my one complaint with the plot is that sometimes it got too into the details and sometimes the dialogue repeated the same concepts again and again. I can see how the author was trying to bring in some reality, and sometimes that worked very much in his favor, but sometimes it went a little over and my mind would drift as the characters rehashed the same thing they had been rehashing for the last 10 minutes. Still, the book over all is worth these little bumps for the thrill of the ride. The ending was a wonderful nail-biting last hour and left me feeling very satisfied.
I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author (via the blog tour company iRead Book tours) in exchange for an honest review.
Narration: R. D. Watson did a pretty darn good job. He had to pull off a lot of different accents – which he did quite well. His female voices were also believable. During times of excitement, stress, or sadness, he imbued the scenes with emotion. Nicely done!
Would you try another book from Peter Riva and/or R. D. Watson?
Would you be willing to try another book from Peter Riva? Why or why not?
What three words best describe R. D. Watson’s performance?
A good narrator
Could you see Murder on Safari being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?
Any additional comments?
I got the audio version of this book. Which by the way narrator, R.D. Watson is really good. I have listened to some narrators that have a monotone voice that could put you to sleep, no matter how good or bad the book is written. Then there are other narrators that being the story to life. This is what Mr. Watson did for this book. To be honest, while I liked listening to this book, if I had been reading it I might have given up on it. There were points that even while listening to Mr. Watson reading the story that I felt it droned on and the story slowed down and lost some of the excitement and action. Yet again, it was for Mr. Watson that I did stick with listening to this book. Well this reason and I did feel that Mr. Riva could tell a good story. He made East Africa come alive. It was like I was instantly transported to East Africa and could see the movie of this book playing out in my head. While I may not have loved this book I would check out other books by Mr. Riva and also listen to more audio books narrated by Mr. Watson.
Pero Baltazar is a wildlife producer accustomed to working with a close knit TV crew. Mbuno is a long time friend and an expert Safari guide. This trip the crew starts by filming the star, Simon, hang-gliding under the curious gaze of soaring vultures. The filming is good until Simon suffers an ‘accident’. Pero and Mbuno realize that the scene shows more than expected. The two crew land rovers end up fleeing an armed caravan that Pero believes is terrorist related. Pero, who has, for years, quietly and secretly worked with an old college friend at the US State Department, calls in his suspicions.
Pero is determined to find Simon's killer but he keeps the show moving along. The crew picks up Mary, the daughter of a top, highly respected and loved, televangelist, Jimmy Threte. Mary specializes in crocodiles and the team has a program to film her with giant sea crocs in Tanzania. As they move along in their program they dodge a bombing and other threats causing Pero to think fast and keep changing travel plans. Bit by bit clues are revealed that indicate a major terrorist attack is in the works and that Pero's crew has been targeted for getting in the way. Pero is promoted to the position of a field agent out of necessity – there being no other asset near enough to help control the investigation. Pero is distressed at bringing danger to his friends who have a surprising reaction to discovering his secret connections.
Parts of the setting in the story are amazingly beautiful and exotic. Other scenes portray the harsh reality of poverty, divided classes and distinct cultural differences. It took me a little bit to get into the story and the narrator, but after the first hour or so, the mystery and danger really pulled me in. The story is told from Pero's view and he shares background of the country and his friends that adds depth to the story. The second half of the book is amazing as Pero and his friends share clues and work out the details of a multi-tiered attack with a few surprising conspirators. Pero and another friend are the only ones on hand to face down the main threat in an exciting and dangerous aerial fight! Pero and Mbuno are especially wonderful characters, supported by a handful of interesting side characters.
This is a really well plotted thriller and the wildlife details are a wonderful background. I would like to read more suspense by Mr. Riva and wouldn't mind revisiting some of these characters. I highly recommend this book to readers who love a mystery with strong characters and lots of danger and clues to work through.
Audio Notes: I have to admit it took me just under an hour to get accustomed to the narration by R. D. Watson. Once I became more engaged in the story I appreciated the narration. Watson does a good job with most of the accents although the females and American accents are a bit exaggerated. Still, the narration brought the main characters alive, adding to the intensity and intrigue as well as the emotional elements of the story. I recommend the audio to those who like to listen instead of reading – just make sure you push through the first hour or so and then buckle up and enjoy the ride.
My Rating 4.5. I received this title for an honest review through iRead Book Tours.