Field Guide Stacy McAllister leads a party of three men and a woman into the African bush on a search for an aircraft that crashed eighteen months previously and contained a fortune in uncut diamonds—diamonds stolen from the diamond mines at Kimberly in South Africa.
Stacy examines the bones of the dead pilot and discovers clues suggesting he was murdered. Other clues at the crash site lead Stacy to believe that the pilot may have been her brother—a brother she had thought to be in England.
Greed overtakes some members of the party and one of Stacy’s staff is murdered. When one of her vehicles break down, Stacy struggles against the odds to safely get the party the two hundred kilometres back to their home base without becoming a murder victim herself.
Can she discover the identity of the dead pilot? Can she return the party safely to their base without another murder, possibly her own, taking place?
Twenty metres in the lead, Gambas, the tall African Ranger, held his hand out palm down and dropped to his haunches as he stared ahead at the surrounding bush.
Following close behind him, Stacy McAllister also crouched down, her heart thudding loudly in her ears.
“Lion, Bwana Stacy,” Gambas whispered, pointing to the lion, all but hidden in the yellow grass of the African bush not more than forty metres ahead of them.
The lion’s baleful amber gaze stared unmoving ahead of him as it remained fixed on his quarry. With his body hugging the ground, he crept forward a few inches at a time. Stacy knew that when he was ready to charge his prey, his haunches would wriggle in anticipation, then he would race at full speed until he caught his quarry and buried his razor sharp claws deep in the flesh, bringing it down.
Looking along the lion’s line of sight Stacy could see a springbok antelope about seventy metres away. She was a young female that had wandered a short distance away from the herd of about twenty or so other springboks. The antelope, its attention focused on eating the dry grass, did not notice the lion waiting the opportunity to pounce.
“Steady on boy,” Stacy told the lion in a tiny whisper, although she knew he could not hear her. She slid the Mannlicher Pro African .375 Ruger from her shoulder and gently released the safety catch, just in case the lion decided that a human target was an easier option than the fleet springboks. The lion crept forward a few more paces and stopped, his body rigid with tension, his gaze flicking between the human interlopers and the antelope.
He was young, probably no more than three years old, and now banished from the pride to become a nomad until he could form a pride of his own. Perhaps his youth and eagerness to satisfy his hunger made him impatient—all too soon, he broke cover and charged the lone springbok. The animal snorted, raising the alarm among the herd, and as one, they raced off to safety, leaping high in their panic to escape being the lion’s next meal.
Within a pride, the females did most of the hunting, using skilful tactics and teamwork to provide food for the pride. Males lions preferred to ambush their prey and bring it down after a shorter rush.
The young male stopped and stared in disgust after the departed springboks. Life was hard for a lone male, and this one looked thin and hungry.
Stacy almost laughed as she interpreted the look on his face as one of amazement that he had missed his prey. With a contemptuous glance at the two people watching him, he walked disdainfully away into the thorn scrub.
The radio at Stacy’s belt broke the stillness. “Hello, Stacy, this is base. Over.”
“Hello, Themba. What’s up?” The base rarely called her when she was in the bush. It was one of her rest days, and she did not have a client with her. This meant it had to be important.
The radio crackled again. “The boss from Johannesburg has turned up. He wants you back here for a meeting, pronto.”
Her heart sank—damn it, the big ogre from Jo’burg was at the base. Why did he want a meeting? The camp and business was running profitably, so what had gone wrong? And why did he want her? It sure meant trouble for someone.