Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mystery Book Review: Predators by Frederick Ramsay

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Predators by Frederick Ramsay. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Predators by Frederick Ramsay

by
Non-series

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-684-0 (1590586840)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-684-6 (9781590586846)
Publication Date: December 2009
List Price: $24.95

Review: The absorbing accounts of an aging CEO and an aging lion are creatively juxtaposed in Predators, a stand-alone novel by Frederick J. Ramsay.

Leo Painter is the chief executive officer of Earth Global, a natural resources company. Though suffering from a weak heart and ready to retire, he's asked by the State Department to travel to Botswana to consult with the local government to negotiate mineral rights. Painter, together with executives from his company and his wife and stepson, arrive in Botswana but Painter isn't sure this trip is in the best interests of the company or his family. Separately, Sekoa, a lion, has been displaced as the alpha male in his tribe because of an AIDS-like virus. Weakened, and only able to hunt for small animals, he is hounded by hyenas that sense his imminent demise.

Common to both Painter and Sekoa is Mpoo Kgopa Sanderson, a game ranger who is looked down upon by the men of her village because she is a woman doing a man's job. It is her responsibility to investigate the death of Painter's attorney. He is found dead in the bush, with the head of Sekoa (also dead) on his chest. The authorities want to label the death a lion kill, but Sanderson knows otherwise: he was killed by a spear through the chest. The prime suspect seems to be Bobby, Painter's stepson, who not only holds a substantial amount of company stock but seems anxious to take control of his family's company. When it comes to kill or be killed, there is not much distinction between the laws of the jungle and the laws of the boardroom.

Ramsay is clearly drawing a parallel between Painter and Sekoa, both of whom (which) know they must eventually (and sooner than they might choose) cede control of their respective empires to a new generation, and would like to do so gracefully but don't trust those that follow in their footsteps. Yet the story is told in such a way that is doesn't seem like the obvious parable it is. Predators is really quite riveting, a murder mystery set in an exotic land peopled with a diverse cast of characters and motives as old as humanity itself. A word or two or advice to potential readers: set aside plenty of time to enjoy Predators, as once started, it will be hard to put down.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Predators and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Leo Painter is the CEO of Earth Global, a large energy, mining, and real-estate development firm. He and his party of company executives are traveling in Botswana to consult with the government about accessing their extractable resources.

Sekoa is a male lion who shares with his bipedal enemies the misfortune of being the bearer of HIV/AIDS. Weakened by the disease, he loses his place as the alpha male in his pride and now, dying and harassed by a pack of hyenas, seeks only a place to rest in peace.

Painter, pursued by his own "hyenas", only wishes to find a last resting place where he can further his dream: to build a resort/casino on Botswana's Chobe River.

Their paths cross with tragic consequences as police, a plucky woman game warden, and myriad local authorities, hoteliers, and tribesmen vie over what happened and to whom.

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