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Reviewed by Tom Gauthier for Readers' Favorite
Tusker is a stimulating journey through exotic places with equally exotic characters leading the way. Protagonist Sam Jardine carries the mantle of an amalgam of Cotton Malone, James Bond, and Scot Harvath to new and intriguing levels as he confronts antagonists who define the term "depths of depravity". From boardrooms of England to the wilderness of Southwest Africa, and from the search for a rare earth mineral to the rescue of a rare breed of elephants, Sam Jardine takes us on a perilous and captivating journey that tweaks your every emotion.
The anthropomorphizing of the Makolo elephants is a masterstroke, believable and integral to the enveloping subplot. The characters are as deep and complex as any you'll find. The complex love interest, Freja, a guide through emotional conflict, and the near-magical antics of the puckish African, Tennis Wina, keep Sam on a quest that even he didn't know existed at first, but soon reaches hypersonic speed. Equally complex is the evil Schenck, in juxtaposition to Freja, Sam, and the tribes. All this is under the hovering veil of the saga of the now ancient Hélène Sondheim who ultimately holds the answers Sam seeks. But you must wait until the end … as a good book always requires.
Christopher Hepworth deserves all the accolades he's received for his writing if Tusker is an example. The brilliant storytelling that can weave such widely varied time periods, geography, cultures, and characters into a coherent and deliciously entertaining tale is the epitome of the novelist's skills. While bombs, bullets, and bombastic behavior abound, they are quietly overshadowed by the tenderness, tenacity, and talent of the emotionally engaging cast of characters. Good writers draw on life experiences to underwrite authenticity in plots, and Hepworth is no exception. Growing up in Zambia is reflected in the sights, smells, swirling dust, and animal roars of Africa that encompass the readers of Tusker. For non-stop action, engaging characters, complex relationships, Chinese Communist plotters, a neo-Nazi evil cult, and ruthless elephant hunters bent on killing the soul of the Makolo tribe, Tusker offers unsurpassed brilliant writing from Christopher Hepworth. My thanks to Christopher for this brilliant experience, and my highest praise for his story of Tusker.