Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Julie's Review: The Lioness

Author: Chris Bohjalian
Series: None
Publication Date:  May 10, 2022
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 317
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Thriller
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Intense
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: Tanzania, 1964. When Katie Barstow, A-list actress, and her new husband, David Hill, decide to bring their Hollywood friends to the Serengeti for their honeymoon, they envision giraffes gently eating leaves from the tall acacia trees, great swarms of wildebeests crossing the Mara River, and herds of zebras storming the sandy plains. Their glamorous guests—including Katie’s best friend, Carmen Tedesco, and Terrance Dutton, the celebrated Black actor who stars alongside Katie in the highly controversial film Tender Madness—will spend their days taking photos, and their evenings drinking chilled gin and tonics back at camp, as the local Tanzanian guides warm water for their baths. The wealthy Americans expect civilized adventure: fresh ice from the kerosene-powered ice maker, dinners of cooked gazelle meat, and plenty of stories to tell over lunch back on Rodeo Drive. What Katie and her glittering entourage do not expect is this: a kidnapping gone wrong, their guides bleeding out in the dirt, and a team of Russian mercenaries herding their hostages into Land Rovers, guns to their heads. As the powerful sun gives way to night, the gunmen shove them into abandoned huts and Katie Barstow, Hollywood royalty, prays for a simple thing: to see the sun rise one more time. A blistering story of fame, race, love, and death set in a world on the cusp of great change, The Lioness is a vibrant masterpiece from one of our finest storytellers.

Review: I have long been a fan of Chris Bohjalian's novels but The Lioness is very different than his other novels. This is a great combination of Historical Fiction and Thriller but a bit of old Hollywood glamour. Mr. Bohjalian always has an interesting take on societal issues and this one is no different. Are humans really that much different than the wild animals that live in the Serengeti? Would you want to die at the claws of a wild animal or by the gun of a human?

Katie Barstow and her husband, David Hill decided to take their closets friends and family on a honeymoon Safari with Katie footing the bill for everyone. Except this isn't a hunt Safari but rather a photo Safari with famed white hunter, Charlie Patton. It all starts out well enough, they enjoy the Wildebeast crossing the river and hoping to see other animals of the Serengeti. Quickly, this trip goes very wrong and they are ambushed by Russian mercenaries that take them hostage and brutally kill their guides. 

I really can't review too much more of it'll give away key elements to the story that I don't want to ruin for you. I flew through this book and enjoyed every single minute of it. It kept me guessing on the outcomes and who or what group was behind this kidnapping scheme. I will say that none of the characters are the same after this trip and for some it changes the trajectory of their careers and lives. 

Do yourself a favor and pick this latest Chris Bohjalian novel up; you won't regret it. 


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