BOOK CLUB: The Last Survivor

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Author: Tony Park
ISBN: 9781760782122

Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia

Australian author Tony Park has written another intense thriller novel.  Last Survivor is the fourth book in the series following freelance intelligence agent Sonja Kurtz.

Joanne Flack, treasurer of the Pretoria Cycad and Firearms Appreciation Society is accused of stealing a female cycad worth millions of dollars; she is on the run from her residence in South Africa and escapes to London but when she is attacked by a terrorist operation who are financing themselves through the smuggling of cycads and it makes headline news, Joanne flees back to Africa to ensure her safety. 

With a new mission at hand, the CIA contacts Sonja Kurtz to find Joanne and the terrorists who attacked her. Sonja teams up with former Fish and Wildlife Services investigator Rod Cavanagh and travels to Africa to make contact with Joanne, the moment that Sonja finds her they are attacked by a team of heavily armed killers. Sonja, Joanne and Rod flee deeper into the African wilds seeking refuge. 

The story jumps around various parts of multiple countries; South Africa, Mali and Zimbabwe in order to work out who is funding the terrorists and their interest in the cycad.  Sonja uses the Pretoria Cycad and Firearms Appreciation Society as a cover to gain access to acquire secret information they may have for her investigation and it becomes clear that someone in the Society is working for the terrorists. 

Added to the mix, Faisal the Kuwaiti Prince comes under suspicion when Joanne worked as a horticultural consultant on his private game reserve. There are several twists, turns and plot lines that will keep you fully immersed until the end, especially the shootout between Sonja and her gang facing off against the terrorists.

I love novels about Africa encapsulating history, picturesque landscape, adventure and wildlife. Whilst this novel did take a bit to get into it did conclude with a thriller ending.  If you are interested in African fauna and flora this book will be of great interest to you.

I didn’t know much about cycads before reading this novel and appreciated the learning experience involving their worth in regards to the smuggling trade.  Overall it was another compelling Tony Park novel which I highly recommend. 

Thanks to Pan Macmillan AU and Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to read and review. 

Footnote:  Cycads are 340 million years old, have outlived the dinosaurs and survived mass extinction in three global catastrophes. They are the world’s oldest seed plants and under threat from obsessive collectors. Cycads never produce flowers or fruit but rely on huge seed cones and beetles for pollination.

Many contain dangerous neurotoxins or carcinogens, along with spiky leaves sharp enough to draw blood. Just 347 species are left today. Cycads all over the world are in decline, with four species on the brink of extinction and seven species have fewer than 100 plants left in the wild.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading The Last Survivor by Tony Park. You can read their feedback in the comments below, or leave your own review!

9 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Last Survivor

  1. Thanks to Pan Macmillan AU and Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to read Last Survivor by Tony Park.

    This was the first book that I have read by Tony Park, I loved it so much that I have purchased 3 more!

    Highly recommend reading this!

  2. Thankyou Beautyandlace and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read ‘Last Survivor’ by Tony Park.
    This is a book full of action with vivid descriptions of African wildlife and scenery.
    The book commences where in Pretoria in South Africa the Cycad Society (a group mainly of pensioners) meeting is underway, and discussion revoves around a 59year old member Joanne Flack. She is missing and presumed to have absconded with over $32.000 of society funds and an extinct female Cycad Woodii.
    The Woodii was originally stolen from Joanne’s place of employment, (there she worked for a Kuwaiti prince) and then from the Cycad Society where it was placed for safe keeping after the police retreived it.
    Joanne meanwhile is involved in a terrorist attack in London where she is with family, and this leads to her return to Africa and further danger.
    The Woodii has two distinct markets in South Africa, as traditional medicine and as a good luck charm, the other is for the collector of cycads who pay big money for them in the global market.
    I really enjoyed the subtle humour in this book and the detail.
    There were many interesting and descriptive characters but short of giving away plots I’ll leave ‘Last Survivor’ for the reader of action, intrigue, and just a touch of romance to discover!

  3. An absolutely thrilling adventure in Africa with smugglers, terrorists, wild animals and the rarest of cycads. Did I mention the romantic element? That was there too.

    I really really enjoyed this read and struggled to put it down, finishing it in a three day period.

    In an interesting move, the heroes of the story were not young fit soldiers but an interesting mix of older characters with a mixed history that came in handy throughout the story.

    The plot twists and turns and had me intrigued and guessing until the end. This could definitely transition well to the big screen, and I’d line up for opening tickets.

  4. Although Park is an Australian, his fast moving stories are largely set overseas. Following that pattern, this novel largely takes place in Africa. A fast moving plot and believable characters make for an absorbing reading experience.

    At first sight, the plot seems a little unlikely, but give Park a chapter or two: he’ll have you fully engaged and completely believing it. Joanne Flack is a member of the Pretoria Cycad And Firearms Appreciation Society. A harmless enough hobby for a bunch of elderly men and women? Once Joanne steals a rare Cycad plant worth millions, nothing is harmless. Terrorists, gun battles, obscenely rich Sheiks, and international operations are suddenly the order of the day.

    My eyebrows raised when I read the blurb on this book, which refers to terrorists chasing Joanne to try to retrieve the Cycad. But Park provides solid background, and it quickly becomes credible that terrorists would go to such lengths for a plant.

    One of the American investigators sent to look into the theft of the Cycad is Rod Cavanagh. Decades earlier, Joanne was caught up in one of his investigations. In many ways a professional triumph, it left the personal situation between Joanne and Rod fraught and unresolved. They have no choice but to work together, but the lingering distrust between them does not make this easy.

    I really enjoyed the characterisation in “Last Survivor”. Apart from Joanne and Rod, there’s Sonja Kurtz, an operative with well honed skills who’s also starting to feel her age. These three characters, in particular, are complex and easy to empathise with. Their different backgrounds and their relationships are well portrayed.

    I also enjoyed the other members of the Pretoria Cycad and Firearms Appreciation Society. All getting older, all unwilling to give up, but otherwise very distinct characters. Older people can be a lot of fun – they generally know who they are, and that certainty infuses their interactions and clashes (rather than the self doubt that younger people may show). Park handles these characters well, and they’re no less vivid or vital to the plot than the focus characters.

    This is an excellent thriller. It delivers an original plot that doesn’t strain credibility; well described action scenes; strong characters; and the enjoyment of seeing older characters take on action roles that are usually reserved for characters 20 – or even 30 – years younger.

    I unreservedly recommend this to thriller readers – you won’t be disappointed.

  5. Tony Park’s Last survivor is a ripping read full of colourful characters, smuggling, terrorism, guns, money and rare prehistoric plants! Predominantly set in Africa, spectacular scenery abounds, along with reference to various civil unrest and wars, and other political and social issues. But by far my favorite part of the book are the somewhat unlikely motley crew of the Pretoria Cycad and Firearms Appreciation Society. I would highly recommend Last Survivor and will be looking for more Tony Park books! Thanks to Beauty and Lace for introducing me to his work.

  6. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the offer to review Last Survivor by Tony Park. I had not read any of Tony Park books before but will definitely be reading them in the future.

    Last Survivor is about a rare African cycad plant, the worlds most valuable plant that is known to be extinct and has been discovered and stolen. Joanne Flack who is a broke widow is top of the list for the crime and is on the run. She has been hiding out in London where she foiled a terrorist attempt killing of a gunman.

    CIA contractor Sonja Kurtz who is a former mercenary has found a link between the missing cycad and the terrorist who tried to kill Joanne. Joanne’s former lover and retired U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Department special agent Rod Cavanagh.

    This book is high action from the beginning and totally gripping. I highly recommend it to everyone who loves action.

  7. Thank you Beauty and Lace, Pan Macmillan Australia and Tony Park to read this thrilling novel “Last Survivor”.
    When reading the blurb I was hesitant that the storyline of a Cycad Appreciation Society and the CIA would cross paths but Park did a wonderful job of hooking the reader in to his fast paced, exciting novel from Chapter 1.
    As previously mentioned by others I enjoyed learning about the precious Cycads but also the snippets that Park gave me into the world of power/money/ trade in illicit goods used to fund sometimes undercover military operations.
    I enjoyed the diversity of characters throughout and the way Park also delved into the way their previous histories shaped their actions today and confess to guessing incorrectly the traitor among them.

    I would highly recommend Last Survivor by Tony Park.

  8. This is the first book by Tony Park I’ve read and I’ve since passed the book to my Mum.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and haven’t travelled so much as I felt I did with this book, who knew a plant could so expensive and valuable.
    Even though the book went to different countries it was very easy to follow and understand what was going on not many authors can do that.
    I highly recommend reading Last Survivor

  9. Thank you to Beauty and lace for selecting me to review this book.
    I dont want to give much away….
    Very well written descriptive book, fast-paced, a little confrontational at times. Thoroughly enjoyed and will recommend. Will read more of Tony Parks books

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