If you love wild animals, lush African settings and quirky characters, then join the hunt for an elusive predator!
Kenya, 2016. At a summit on poaching, the keynote address is homicide. Community vet and skilled sleuth ‘Mama Rose’ Hardie is passionate about saving elephants. But things turn sour when a world-renowned conservationist is found brutally stabbed to death.
With the authorities tied up in Nairobi, Rose sets out to bring the killer in herself. But with multiple suspects all hiding secrets and scandalous truths surrounding the victim, the culprit may be too slippery for the aged amateur detective to handle.
Can Rose trap the murderer before she becomes an endangered species?
Tusk Justice is the second book in the thrilling Kenya Kanga Mystery series. If you like Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, with a twist of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, then you’ll adore Victoria Tait’s adventurous whodunit.
Buy Tusk Justice and track down a beastly killer today!
“Once I started it I couldn’t put it down… Tusk Justice is a great piece of writing.” Barnes and Noble Reviewer ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
“I recommend TUSK JUSTICE to cozy mystery readers, especially those that… like a mystery set in a new, exotic, still rural setting.” BookBub Reviewer ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
“Victoria Tait’s “Tusk Justice”… gathers together classical “whodunnit” elements with very actual African issues… A real delight for both mystery and African related themes fans.” BookBub Reviewer ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
“So beautifully written you feel like you are there. Gripping story and relatable characters, so much fun to read. 5 star all the way!” Goodreads Reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Exert – Chapter 2
Rose stood on a bank of red volcanic soil, crumbly underfoot and interspersed with rocks and waxy green-leafed gum tree saplings. Her curly white hair was wild and dusty, and her lined face was etched with worry. She heard a cacophony of cries: a noise guaranteed to alarm the calf, she thought.
“Mama Rose, they find it.” The head ranger, in his forest green shirt, trousers and peaked cap, bounced up and down excitedly on the balls of his feet.
“Tell them to be quiet,” Rose admonished. “They’ll scare the elephant. I won’t be able to treat any injuries with adrenaline pumping through its body. And the noise will hardly assist a safe and calm rescue.”
The ranger whistled and the noise subsided. Peaked-capped heads appeared from behind various thorn bushes. As the ranger strode down the bank towards his men, Thabiti reached for his phone.
“Ow!” exclaimed Thabiti and sucked the tip of his finger. He had stabbed it on the common spike-thorn bush which hid its slender spikes behind a screen of cream petals.
The small elephant appeared from behind a yellow-flowered maumanda bush, swaying on its feet. Thabiti started recording the scene with his phone. Rose guessed the elephant to be nine months old, although it looked malnourished. It would have been dependent on its now dead mother for milk… and protection. A broken arrow shaft protruded from its belly.
Rose cupped her hands and shouted down to the head ranger. “Don’t shoot a tranquilliser dart. A blanket thrown over its head should suffice. It’s very weak. And I need it lying on its right side so I can remove that arrow and treat the wound.”
The rangers formed a loose circle, about twenty metres in diameter, around the elephant. Those on the slope opposite Rose’s vantage point moved forward, herding the tottering elephant towards flatter ground at the base of the elephant corridor. When it stumbled down the slope into an area clear of thorn bushes, two rangers unceremoniously threw a blanket over its head and wrestled it to the ground. It barely moved, but another two rangers still secured its legs to prevent it escaping or injuring someone.
Thabiti ran down the slope to film close-up shots of the rescue. Rose collected her large green medical bag and followed him. She shouted to three rangers, now standing around watching the proceedings, to collect the buckets and containers of water.
Rose examined the calf’s wound and the abscess forming beneath its thick skin. She didn’t think any major organs had been damaged, which was a relief.
“Poison arrow, like the ones that killed its mother,” the head ranger spat. Despite Mount Kenya National Park being protected, and designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, poachers still infiltrated it. They were a constant frustration to the Mount Kenya Trust Rangers.
“It’s a young male.” Rose cut an incision in the calf’s skin beside the arrow and stood back as greyish pus and sand bust forth, dislodging the arrow in its lava flow.
Rose wiped her cheek with the top of her sleeve. “Thabiti, can someone else film? I need your help and some water pouring.” A young ranger, in his teens, took the phone and warily continued filming. Thabiti tipped the contents of the jerrycan into a yellow plastic bucket.
“I’ll hold the flap of skin open,” said Rose, doing so with her latex-gloved hands. “Pour the water into the wound to flush out any more pus and debris.” They repeated the procedure until Rose nodded in satisfaction.
Rose stood, arching her back to ease the stiffness. “Can you pour more water into the bucket?” she asked Thabiti. She searched her bag and extracted two bottles. “An antibiotic and antiseptic solution.” She poured povidone-iodine and a dash of potassium permanganate into the bucket, which turned the water a light purple.
Returning to the prostrate elephant, she opened the damaged flap of skin with her gloved hand. “Pour in the liquid,” she directed Thabiti. She swilled the mixture inside the wound and over the surrounding skin. They flushed it with more water until Rose was content the wound was clean.
From a white plastic tub, she gouged out handfuls of green clay, smearing it around and inside the wound. The rangers bent forward to view her work. “Why do you cover it in mud?” one asked.
“This clay is a natural remedy which fights infection and speeds up the healing process. It’s also easy to apply and keep in place.”
The ranger poked the contents of the tub with his finger, but quickly removed it as his colleagues laughed. It helped release the tension in the group. Rose sat back on her knees and patted the elephant.
“Ready.” She looked at Thabiti. “Can you find the pickup driver?” Standing, she addressed the rangers. “Right, men, we need to move the elephant onto that large green tarpaulin so you can carry him to the vehicle.”
The rangers set about their work excitedly, although not particularly gently. Thabiti assisted the pickup driver, signalling and manoeuvring him around the largest stones and bushes as he reversed towards the group. They lowered the tailgate and, with cries and grunts, the rangers lifted the small but heavy baby elephant off the ground and deposited it in the back of the pickup. Two rangers volunteered to accompany the calf and climbed in beside it. Rose arranged a shuka blanket over its body as a forlorn elephant eye opened.
The initial idea behind Tusk Justice was the first Giants Club Summit: a forum convened by the charity, Space for Giants, to protect African Elephants.
It was held at the Mount Kenya Safari Club outside Nanyuki, in April 2016. The aim of the summit was to bring together heads of state, senior business leads and leading conservationists to secure a future for elephants, and the habitats they rely on.
I was involved in the Summit in a very small way: I catered at an outreach day at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. I’ve been extremely lucky to see many elephants in the wild in Kenya.
I also visited the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi which rescues, cares for and rehabilitates orphan elephants.