Author: T.M. Clark
T.M. Clark is a compelling new Australian voice whose third novel is Tears of the Cheetah. This is the first time I have read Clark but it certainly won’t be the last.
Clark is an Australian author who was born in Zimbabwe and her knowledge and passion for the African continent is tangible in her writing.
Tears of the Cheetah weaves different aspects of African life into a suspenseful story of game poaching, shady business, art and animal conservation. Being a tale of suspense I don’t want to ruin any of the storylines.
Mackenzie is an American artist who has moved to South Africa to find herself and her independence, she has kept herself apart form the local community and not let anyone get too close. Mackenzie has found a new inspiration for her art and begun a series of African animals.
My favourite part of Tears of the Cheetah is the cheetahs, much of the story takes place in a cheetah rescue and conservation reserve. Here we are able to get up close and personal with the cheetahs, and reserve owner Cole. We see them as individual animals with personality, they are quite tame and are happy to be handled. Clark has beautifully described the majesty of the big cats and their skills.
Early in the story Mackenzie races the cheetahs on her bicycle as she passes every day and the description is just glorious; of the cyclist pushing herself and the cheetahs exercising. I think it’s interesting to note that it’s pointed out that Mackenzie is racing against 6 different cheetahs but she doesn’t realise they’re changing.
There are lots of different threads to this story that don’t seem related in the beginning. The story opens with a mother cheetah on the prowl, then we meet Cole and his cheetah family. Descriptions of his work with the cheetah are informative and interesting, giving us a look into the characteristics of the animals and the way they are treated to ensure they will be able to return to the wild.
I did find at times that the story seemed to get bogged down in description, what was intended to paint a vibrant picture of the markets or the people seemed superfluous. The descriptions in those instances failed to evoke the image it was trying to paint. In other circumstances, like the descriptions of Mackenzie’s art or the animals, the descriptions were spot on.
Hope is found injured in the bush after a plane crash and she remembers nothing but her name, she is rescued by Mandla who is out tracking animals. It seems that though they work for completely different operations their work may be more alike than they had thought.
maNtuli joins the narrative in chapter four, she is a well known figure in the Johannesburg underworld. We learn a little about her past and how she came to be in her current position but not where she fits into the story we are reading about Mackenzie, Cole and the cheetah.
All of the characters in Tears of the Cheetah have suffered terrible heartbreaks in their past, all of them very different but still offering a point of understanding and a common ground.
Romance is an element of the story and it is a beautiful thing to watch but it is quite subtle and slow releasing. Early on Mackenzie keeps herself completely distanced from everyone so to get to a point where she’s willing to cultivate even a friendship is quite an impressive feat.
Suspense, romance, poaching, conservation as well as some amazing scenery and majestic animals. T.M. Clark writes a compelling story that involves you in the plight of the animals and the people of South Africa. I definitely plan to seek out more by T.M. Clark in the future.
Tears of the Cheetah is book #72 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015.
We have copies of Tears of the Cheetah to giveaway to 5 of our lucky readers thanks to Morey Media and Harlequin. If you want to be one of them tell us in the comments below about the animal you would most like to see removed from the endangered list.
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