Aussie Book Review: An Empty Coast by Tony Park
“A body. A cover-up. A buried secret.
Sonja Kurtz - former soldier, supposedly retired mercenary - is in Vietnam carrying out a personal revenge mission when her daughter sends a call for help.
Emma, a student archaeologist on a dig at the edge of Namibia's Etosha National Park, has discovered a body dating back to the country's liberation war of the 1980s.
The remains of the airman, identified as Hudson Brand, are a key piece of a puzzle that will reveal the location of a modern-day buried treasure - a find people will kill for.
Sonja returns to the country of her birth to find Emma, who since her call has gone missing.
Former CIA agent Hudson Brand is very much alive and is also drawn back to Namibia to finally solve a decades-old mystery whose clues are entombed in an empty corner of the desert.”
Greed, corruption and illicit trafficking combine to give you a read that is full of action, terror and the wild beauty of the African wilderness, in this case, the dry and isolated plains of Namibia and its Skeleton Coast.
Born in South-West Africa (now Namibia), Sonja Kurtz, a former soldier and now supposedly retired mercenary, finds herself having to make the uncomfortable decision of returning to her homeland after she receives a cryptic message from her daughter Emma who is currently there on an archaeological dig. Much to her dismay, shortly after her arrival, she discovers that Emma, the only thing worth living for in her life, is missing.
Unbeknownst to Sonja, her search for Emma is going to tie up with her time in Vietnam and drag her into a decades old unsolved disappearance and murder at the heart of a depraved scheme, resulting in an explosive situation in which she will find both her and Emma’s lives on the line.
Whenever I read a book set on the Continent in which my homeland resides, it elicits all sorts of emotions within me which are difficult to express to someone who hasn’t lived there. However troubled the Continent of Africa may be, there is still a strong connection between Africa and her children and this comes through fantastically in Tony Park’s writing - so much so that it’s hard to believe he wasn’t born and bred there, considering the vast knowledge he imparts to the reader through his vivid evocations of not only the countryside, its wildlife and its people, but the politics, local language, slang and customs, which are all so familiar to me.
The foundation for this novel revolves around the illegal trafficking of Rhino Horn, specifically in South Africa and its bordering countries, of which Namibia is one. An ongoing issue for many years, and one which continues to grow on a daily basis despite the efforts of both local and multi-national organisations to enforce the reduction of these illegal activities, Tony tackles the subject head on using his characters to convey the immorality and ecological drawbacks sustained by this unnecessary massacring of Africa’s wildlife, never neglecting his characters as they fight against time and circumstance.
The beauty of Africa’s wilderness, whilst at times harsh and unforgiving, is still inspiring and Tony entices his reader to connect with his realistic characters as his sub-plots all merge cohesively, giving the reader a gritty sense of realism in this complex tale of greed, corruption, deceit, power and murder told in a succinctly South African voice.
As an aside, after doing a bit of my own research I discovered that this is not the first of Tony Park’s books to feature the indomitable character of Sonja Kurtz so, if you’re one of those readers who likes to know their characters inside out, please do yourself a favour and read The Delta. Although Tony does give the reader a good feel for Sonja in the amount of back-story that he shares in this one, I felt like I wanted to know that little bit more about her.
That being said, this is thrilling action adventure from the word go as Sonja and Emma try to distinguish the good from the bad in a fight for their lives.
I wish to thank Pan MacMillan Australia for providing me with a hard copy for review.
About the Author
Tony Park has worked as a reporter, a press secretary, a PR consultant and a freelance writer. He is also a Major in the Australian Army Reserve and served in Afghanistan in 2002.
Tony and his wife divide their time between Sydney and Southern Africa where they own a home on the border of the Kruger National Park.
He is the author of eleven novels set in Africa: Far Horizon, Zambezi, African Sky, Safari, Silent Predator, Ivory, The Delta, African Dawn, Dark Heart, The Prey and The Hunter, and co-author of Part of the Pride (with Kevin Richardson), War Dogs (with Shane Bryant), The Grey Man (with John Curtis) and The Lost Battlefield of Kokoda and Walking Wounded (with Brian Freeman).
Tony is a a keen supporter of several charities concerned with wildlife and people in Africa. He is a Patron of Painted Dog Conservation Inc, a charity supporting the endangered African Painted Dog and also escorts regular safaris to Africa for his readers.
He welcomes the opportunity to talk about Africa, his travels, and his writing, and loves to hear from people who have read his books. If you'd like to connect with him, you can do so via the following links: