American Jade del Cameron returns in her second mystery, following Mark of the Lion. In her first adventure, Jade, who had served as an ambulance driver in the Great War, had gone to Nairobi to find the half-brother of her dead love. Jade has stayed on in Africa, working as a writer and photographer for The Traveler. Accompanied by her good friends Beverly and Avery Dunbury, she’s on assignment, photographing elephants. Discovering a nest of elephants slaughtered and a soldier in the King’s African Rifles murdered, she suspects poachers and indeed finds suspects close to home in a safari led by her nemesis, Harry Hascombe.
As with Jade’s first outing, the charm of the book lies in its characters rather than the mystery itself. When the villain is finally revealed (and his identity telegraphed itself well before the denouement), I had lost track of who had done what to whom. Still, Arruda creates a credible (if a little too perfect) heroine in Jade and gives her several good foils in her friends, not the least of whom is Jelani, a Kikuyu boy who deals with scrapes by thinking “what would Tarzan do?” And, the plight of the elephants is certainly moving, prefiguring a concern that remains to this day. What will Jade do in her third adventure? I look forward to finding out.