What is this about?: Sonja Kurtz is a former mercenary, now working for an anti-poaching unit when everything goes wrong on a mission. She then finds herself working for a billionaire who truly hopes to bring about change in Africa with respect to poaching with her money, influence and people like Sonja. However, things get complicated very quickly…
What else is this about?: This may be the third in the Sonja Kurtz series, but I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything, to be honest. It’s very much set in the present, in Sonja coming to terms with changes in her life from the first two books.
One mission … countless enemies.
Former mercenary Sonja Kurtz is hired by business tycoon Julianne Clyde-Smith to head an elite squad. Their aim: to take down Africa’s top poaching kingpins and stop at nothing to save its endangered wildlife.
But as the body count rises, it becomes harder for Sonja to stay under the radar and she is targeted by an underworld syndicate known as The Scorpions.
When her love interest, safari guide and private investigator Hudson Brand, is employed to look into the death of an alleged poacher at the hands of Sonja’s team, she is forced to ask herself if Julianne’s crusade has gone too far.
From South Africa’s Kruger National Park to the Serengeti of Tanzania, Sonja realises she is fighting a war on numerous fronts, against enemies known and unknown.
So who can Sonja really trust?
The Cull is not my usual cup of tea, but I could not help be drawn in by a story of a female mercenary taking on poachers. We meet Sonja while is she working for a team based on the Black Mambas, a real-life female anti-poaching unit in South Africa, before things go very wrong on a mission, and she finds herself working for a Julianne Clyde-Smith, a billionaire determined to bring about real change to Africa in terms of poaching.
To describe her as bad ass is a bit of an understatement I think. She takes no bullshit, not even from billionaires that employ her, and is ruthless when it comes to her job, whatever it may be. She is loyal to her team and those that follow her, but she guards herself, building walls around herself.
That would be the bits from the other books I was talking about up above — yes, Sonja is coming to terms with the grief from events in the previous books, but I think the story is very much set in the present, with the characters around her more relevant.
In particular, her relationship with Hudson is filled with tension, from her reluctance to allow herself to admit she loves him. Their relationship is frustrating because it’s clear she’s sabotaging herself and her relationship with Hudson. It made her easy to relate to, to be honest.
Another part to Sonja I enjoyed is her working with Tema, a member of her team. She takes Tema under her wing, but before I get too much into this, I feel this heading is apt at this point in my review:
The women in The Cull
Sure, there are male characters who play an important part of this book, but really it’s the women that stick out to me — good or bad. Tema for instance, is a former maid who under Sonja’s command evolves into a trusted part of her team, and takes on ever more complicated tasks for Sonja –– of the undercover sort. I loved her evolution, and her determination to work with Sonja taking on poachers.
Julianne is determined and ruthless in her own way that extends beyond poaching, which grows the plot into something else more complicated and terrifying for Sonja. She is a marvellously complicated character, but I also found myself sympathising with her, cheering her on before going shaking my head at what she does next.
Rosie, a journalist, may play a smaller part in the narrative but she too left an impression. on me
I know, I know, I should have probably brought this up sooner. Tony Park illuminates poaching in a way I did not expect with this story, never letting up on the pacing of what is a complicated action adventure story set in Africa. There are scenes that reminded me of The Lion King, which is on my mind because the casting for that was just released — look, it’s an out of left field comparison, but this is me we’re talking about. It all makes sense in my head.
I don’t get hunting, I don’t get why someone needs to go out into the wild and shoot an animal for fun or money. We’ve corrupted so much in our world, I do wonder if we’ll ever be able to come back from the havoc we’ve created. Yes, this book left me contemplative in a way I didn’t expect. But that’s Tony Park for you!