Title: Cry of the Firebird
Author: T.M. Clark
Published: November 18th 2019
Publisher: Mira – AU
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller
Rating: 4.5 stars
In the badlands of Africa, a resourceful doctor fights to save her patients’ lives. Australian thriller writer T.M. Clark returns with a vivid, action-packed adventure in the tradition of Wilbur Smith.
South African-born Doctor Lily Winters, a consultant with the World Health Organization, has been in the thick of some of the worst humanitarian disasters across the globe. But when she’s posted back to South Africa following the suspicious death of an ex-colleague, she faces the biggest medical mystery she’s ever seen.
The resettled San community of Platfontein is exhibiting a higher-than-average HIV infection rate, and their people are dying. The cases Lily takes over are baffling and despite her best efforts the medicine doesn’t seem to be helping.
To save this unique community, Lily and a policeman from the Kalahari, Piet Kleinman, join forces to trace the origins of the epidemic and uncover the truth. Their search drags them into the dangerous world of a corrupt industry driven by profit while the authorities meant to protect their community turn a blind eye. In a race against time Lily and Piet will put not only their careers but their lives on the line…
‘The San language does not have a word for the flamingo. Their wings remind me of fire at sunset, so for my story, they will be known as the firebird.’
With five successful adult contemporary fiction novels already under her belt, T.M. Clark makes a triumphant return with her latest medical thriller, Cry of the Firebird. The dramatic and eye catching cover will draw you in immediately, with a sprawling flock of flamingos basking in all their glory. Beneath the striking cover is a tale of love, determination and personal crusades. Cry of the Firebird exposes the deep and cutting underbelly of Africa’s healthcare, pharmaceuticals and system of law. A story told with a rich grain of truth, Cry of the Firebird will leave a strong and lasting impression on your mind.
Cry of the Firebird features dedicated doctor, Lily Winters, a woman who has tirelessly worked for the World Health Organisation during her lengthy career. Lily has witnessed crisis after crisis during her time as a consultant, but nothing will prepare her for the emotional journey back to South Africa. It is a posting that Lily takes with a sense of trepidation, following the shock death of a former colleague. When Lily sets to work in her new challenging position, she is faced with one of the most complex and heartbreaking medical based mysteries she has ever encountered. This medical conundrum centres on the HIV epidemic, which is rampant in the San community of Platfontein. Unfortunately, despite medication being available to these people, the infection rate soars and the death rate spikes. Lily feels compelled to do all she can to save these people and she gains the help of a Kalahari policeman, Piet Kleinman in her crusade. What arises from her efforts is a dangerous line of corruption, greed and cover ups. This shapes up to be the fight of this doctor’s life, can Lily save the San community?
Cry of the Firebird is T.M Clark’s most challenging and personal piece of work, to date. This is a story told with great knowledge, realistic insight and personal passion. It is a novel that I was hard pressed to put down once I selected it to read, everything had to be cast aside. While reading this book I was completely immersed in Africa’s landscape, the plight of the San community and Lily Winter’s personal mission.
Cry of the Firebird is a rich and multi layered story, with a number of narrative pockets, exploring a bevy of contrasted themes. T.M. Clark doesn’t set any limits in her latest book. She bravely takes on the medical world, pharmaceuticals and the law. Clark also exposes the plight of a suffering community, dealing with the HIV epidemic. There are offshoots of greed, corruption, extortion, dislocation, conservation, degenerative illness and culture references within the pages of T.M Clark’s sixth novel. Painted with a great deal of suspense, intrigue, action and adventure, this story will leave you a little breathless and consciously aware of the issues at hand. These issues will both upset and astound you, but T.M. Clark injects a sense of hope within these heartbreaking themes.
The heroine of T.M. Clark’s new tale, Lily Winters, was a character I immediately warmed to. The treasured relationship between Lily and her talented violinist husband Quintin, is defined by the mantra, ‘til death do us part’ and gently reminds the reader of true love and loyalty. I loved the Lily and Quinton sequences, they were life affirming and heartening. Independent of Quintin, Lily is a woman I greatly admired. Her passion for her field, her knowledge, her unconditional sense of justice and her willingness to rise to such an immense challenge inspired me. Supporting Lily along the way is the formidable Kalahari Bushman and man of the law, Piet. This protagonist added plenty of colour to Cry of the Firebird and his accompanying back story definitely enthralls the reader. Together, these two make a good team and I appreciated the way both characters battled it out for the greater good.
Gently woven within the narrative is a sub thread involving the firebirds of the Kimberley region in which this book is set. We are introduced to a flock that reside in the locale focus of the story. There is a focus on a female firebird and her baby, who is saved from death and later set back into the wild. These touching and provocative sequences give the reader a very good insight into the behaviour of the flamingo and it certainly helped to increase my own working knowledge of this majestic creature. Supplementing this aspect of the narrative are a set of spellbinding landscape and fauna sequences, which helps us to see that Africa is truly blessed with such an amazing landscape.
When you come to the close of Cry of the Firebird you may want to reflect on the tough journey undertaken. There is an informative glossary, along with a fact vs fiction segment and a cultural sensitivity note. T.M. Clark has covered all bases. I felt changed by the experience of reading this novel, it seemed to open my eyes to a completely different world. Cry of the Firebird comes with a big endorsement from this reader and I highly recommend it to all readers.
Cry of the Firebird by T.M. Clark was published on 18th November 2019 by Mira – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Cry of the Firebird, T.M. Clark, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Cry of the Firebird is book #152 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge