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Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite
I chose to read and review Mad Mischief by Susan St. John as I have lived in Kenya and travelled to many of the places she writes about. What we think at first is the average, rich American couple going on their first privately escorted safari to both Kenya and Tanzania turns into something quite different. Sarah’s husband, Peter, is loud, overbearing and insufferable, and constantly puts his wife down with stinging and cruel remarks. He is joined in this game by Max, their knowledgeable safari guide. It becomes a battle of wits and wills, while deep in game country among the wild creatures who also battle to survive. When Sarah elects to remain in Nairobi at the end of the tour, the pace picks up as she stumbles across one interesting character after another, all of whom take her for a ride in the meanest sense.
The visual pictures Susan St. John draws in Mad Mischief are astounding. You are taken to Africa while you sit in your armchair. You can smell the kills, see the birds, and watch the elephants almost as clearly as if you were in the same vehicle as Sarah, Peter and Max. The vivid and beautiful descriptions do not end with the animals; the author describes the terrain, the game lodges, the local people, their culture and the food. But this is not a linear story; it goes back and forth between their guide’s incarceration in Nairobi, Sarah’s fraught childhood, and the present safari. It’s quite difficult to review this book without giving away any spoilers, but for me, my emotions were on a roller coaster. One minute I was cheering Sarah on, the next minute cringing at her ineptitude and cowering. She catapulted from being very brave to behaving stupidly – for example not wearing shoes in the bush despite being warned numerous times. This book is beautifully written, has depth and will stay with you long after you have finished reading it. The title only became clear to me towards the end, and if I was to explain that, it would be a spoiler! A full five stars.