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Suzanne M. Arruda: Mark of the Lion

 

Crescent Blues Book Views New American Library (Hardcover), ISBN 0451217489

Book: Suzanne M. Arruda: Mark of the Lion
Jade del Cameron drives a Ford Model T ambulance during World War I, evacuating wounded soldiers to field hospitals on French battlefields. She experiences the horrors of war firsthand, but her adventurous spirit and uncanny knack for solving problems from mechanical failures of her ambulance to shooting poisonous snakes serve her well in a spot where few women chose to be in 1918.

When a German Fokker fires on her friend David's plane, she rushes to the crash site, pulls him from the wreckage, and cradles his head in her arms. David tells her that his father's death was suspicious and implores her to "find my brother." Filled with a new sense of purpose, Jade vows to find the brother who, under different circumstances, might have become her own.

After an unsatisfying interview with David's English mother (who claims to know of no brother) Jade travels to Africa, where David's father died. Along the way, she secures a position as a travel writer and sends reports of the mysterious continent back to her readers. In Nairobi she discovers clues to the murder of David's father and meets an assortment of locals -- from those speaking the King's English to turbaned Sikh sentries and African women selling their wares. Her trousers, short hair, and total disregard for the status quo surprise almost everyone she encounters. Jade flaunts her role an adventuress, determined to do exactly as she pleases. Witches, mysticism, greed, brutality -- nothing deters her from fulfilling David's last request.

As she follows the trails she uncovers through Africa, we go along on an exciting early 20th century safari. The first in a series of mystery adventures, this historical whodunit introduces an exotic character and tells a rollicking good story. In the end, Jade wonders "what sort of life lay ahead," and assures herself and her readers that she will travel and wander over Africa. Let's hope she continues to send back reports as exciting and fun to read as this one.

Augusta Scattergood

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