Title: The Cull
Author: Tony Park
Published: September 26th 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Action, Adventure, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
A heart-racing thriller from the master of adventure!
One mission … countless enemies.
Former mercenary Sonja Kurtz is hired by business tycoon Julianne Clyde-Smith to head an elite squad. Their aim: to take down Africa’s top poaching kingpins and stop at nothing to save its endangered wildlife.
But as the body count rises, it becomes harder for Sonja to stay under the radar and she is targeted by an underworld syndicate known as The Scorpions.
When her love interest, safari guide and private investigator Hudson Brand, is employed to look into the death of an alleged poacher at the hands of Sonja’s team, she is forced to ask herself if Julianne’s crusade has gone too far.
From South Africa’s Kruger National Park to the Serengeti of Tanzania, Sonja realises she is fighting a war on numerous fronts, against enemies known and unknown.
So who can Sonja really trust?
The Cull marks author Tony Park’s fourteenth novel, after releasing thirteen previous African based action adventure fiction novels. There is no doubt Tony Park is a prolific and popular author. Until now, Park’s novels have escaped my attention, despite being highly recommended to me. The Cull marks my first taste of Tony Park’s work. I was wholly impressed by Park’s ability to weave a thrilling fiction tale around such contentious issues faced by mighty Africa today.
The Cull focuses on the operations of a superior anti poaching squad. Sonja Kurtz, a mercenary in a former time, is selected by business tycoon Julianne Clyde-Smith to oversee this exclusive squad. She has a specific plan for this special squad in mind. She wants the squad to eliminate Africa’s dangerous and greedy poaching commanders in chief. Julianne is on a mission, determined to protect Africa’s majestic and endangered wildlife in any way she can. The work is deadly and dangerous. When a major new threat emerges, via a mob called The Scorpions, it is a matter of life and death as survival tactics are employed to save Africa’s precious fauna. Anti poaching leader Sonja Kurtz’s life gets complicated further by the appearance of Hudson Brand, a private investigator and love interest who encroaches on Sonja’s mission. Hudson’s examination into the death of a poacher, which is believed to be the fault of Sonja’s squad, signals a perilous reminder for Sonja. She grapples with the decision of continuing Julianne’s relentless but lethal campaign, especially when her own life and the lives of her team are under increasing threat. The Cull is a risky, high-octane adventure tale that looks at the question of trust and how far you are willing to go to protect the things you believe in.
Prior to reading The Cull I completed a little bit of pre reading investigative work. I was concerned that being a newcomer to Tony Park’s work, I wouldn’t have the grounding to undergo a comprehensive read of this new novel, especially as this latest novel features a returning character, Sonja Kurtz, from The Delta and The Empty Coast. I was reassured by a huge fan of Park’s work that I would be able to read each of Park’s books, including The Cull, as a standalone novel. The reassurance was warranted and I am glad I took the advice. So I plunged into my first Tony Park novel and my overall impression was I enjoyed the reading experience very much.
The Cull is a pulse pounding read, perfect for those who enjoy fiction based novels that lean strongly on action and adventure. The plot featured in The Cull is layered, with plenty of sub plots that ensure the book remains interesting. It is able to draw you in from the first page and does not let go until the last page is turned. The tone of the novel and Park’s writing style is engaging. The pace was set at a steady flow throughout. Most of all, The Cull provides the reader with a crucial critique of the issues that are the very fabric of Africa’s way of life, in the form of an intriguing and well told thriller.
The Cull is a book filled with a rich and colourful cast of characters. Lead protagonist Sonja Kurtz is a full-bodied character. I liked how she moved the events of the novel. Those new to the character of Sonja, who is a returning player in Park’s books, will find there is enough back story provided by Park to connect with this character. I greatly admired Sonja’s tenacity, fearless nature and determination to carry out the task that was assigned to her, despite the obvious threats to her life. Sonja is paired well against protagonist and private investigator Hudson Brand. Their interactions provide a source of sizzling sexual tension, which was a welcome offset from the strong emphasis on action and thrills in the novel. Rounding up the character set in The Cull are an ideal combination of heroes and villains that add much substance to this novel.
I cannot go any further in this review without highlighting the aspect of the novel I appreciated the most and the component that literally drives the events of the novel, the wildlife. Park’s descriptions and passages relating to the protection from poaching of the varied protected animals of Africa blew me away. It was a true visual feast, I felt like I was on a safari holiday in Africa, from the comfort of my own armchair! The passages related to the vital protection work of preserving these magnificent creatures and the risks involved in saving these precious animals from destruction was moving indeed. I appreciated Park’s first hand knowledge of Africa’s fauna and his passion for these animals really shines through in his writing.
What I also appreciated about The Cull was Park’s vivid portrayal of the book’s setting. The prose lends to descriptions of the landscape that is best described as harsh, unforgiving but equally breathtaking. Author Tony Park includes two detailed maps at the opening of the novel, immediately providing the reader with a direct picture of where the book’s central action is set. For me, this assisted greatly in providing a comprehensive picture of the location of The Cull. The Cull is a novel firmly rooted in a strong air of authenticity, especially in providing the reader with an understanding of the landscape, people, customs, culture, political tensions and corruption that exists in Africa. All in all, The Cull is a stunning and realistic testament to the locale in which it is set.
Reading The Cull was a nail-biting, on the edge of your seat thrill ride. I enjoyed the experience of being whisked away to the wilderness of Africa and gaining an awareness of the perilous but important work of anti poaching. I now feel I have a better view of how vital this action is to preserving Africa’s precious cargo, its unique wildlife. Fans new and established will no doubt be pleased with Tony Park’s latest offering, it is an awe-inspiring read.
The Cull by Tony Park was published on September 26th 2017 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Cull, Tony Park, visit here.
*I wish to thank Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.