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After driving an ambulance along the front lines of World War I, she can fire a rifle with deadly precision. Still suffering trauma from the Great War, she sets off for Africa determined to fulfill a man's dying wish...never expecting to become involved in murder.Rich with romance, mystery, and adventure, Mark of the Lion introduces a fascinating new heroine and explores t After driving an ambulance along the front lines of World War I, she can fire a rifle with deadly precision. Still suffering trauma from the Great War, she sets off for Africa determined to fulfill a man's dying wish...never expecting to become involved in murder.Rich with romance, mystery, and adventure, Mark of the Lion introduces a fascinating new heroine and explores the elusive heart of a compelling and exotic world.


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After driving an ambulance along the front lines of World War I, she can fire a rifle with deadly precision. Still suffering trauma from the Great War, she sets off for Africa determined to fulfill a man's dying wish...never expecting to become involved in murder.Rich with romance, mystery, and adventure, Mark of the Lion introduces a fascinating new heroine and explores t After driving an ambulance along the front lines of World War I, she can fire a rifle with deadly precision. Still suffering trauma from the Great War, she sets off for Africa determined to fulfill a man's dying wish...never expecting to become involved in murder.Rich with romance, mystery, and adventure, Mark of the Lion introduces a fascinating new heroine and explores the elusive heart of a compelling and exotic world.

30 review for Mark of the Lion

  1. 4 out of 5

    Candi

    3.5 stars rounded up If you are looking for an adventurous heroine and a story steeped in the atmosphere of early twentieth century colonial Africa, then Suzanne Arruda’s Mark of the Lion is a satisfying choice that delivers well. On the other hand, if a mystery full of twists and turns and a mind-blowing surprise ending are your cup of tea, well then you might want to look elsewhere. There is a mystery here, but I would say this is the weak point in the novel. Jade del Cameron, however, is far f 3.5 stars rounded up If you are looking for an adventurous heroine and a story steeped in the atmosphere of early twentieth century colonial Africa, then Suzanne Arruda’s Mark of the Lion is a satisfying choice that delivers well. On the other hand, if a mystery full of twists and turns and a mind-blowing surprise ending are your cup of tea, well then you might want to look elsewhere. There is a mystery here, but I would say this is the weak point in the novel. Jade del Cameron, however, is far from weak! A young American who grew up on a ranch in New Mexico, Jade is no stranger to the hard life. She can wield a rifle as good as or better than the next guy and maneuver a steering wheel over the most rugged terrain. Having just served as an ambulance driver along the front lines of World War I, Jade needs a well-earned break. Yet, due to a promise made to a dying young man, we see her instead venturing off to Nairobi in the year 1919. Tasked with investigating a mysterious death and searching for a man only known as “Abel” – something akin to looking for a needle in a haystack given the expanse of Africa! – Jade may very well be in over her head. The setting and descriptions of the African landscape are what first drew me to this book and what ultimately appealed the most. We get a glimpse of the wildlife from afar and in some cases up close and quite personal. True to the history of these times, hunting for large game is a recreational activity sought out by the colonialists. Those that are opposed to reading about this should be warned, although Arruda does not get overly descriptive with regards to this. There is a degree of violence but not done in a manner to shock or disgust the reader. It is an unfortunate product of the place and time and is presented realistically in my opinion. Racism is another distasteful subject that is presented, but not dwelled on here. Fortunately, our heroine finds this just as contemptible as would the modern day reader. There is a supernatural element to this book as well, and that bears mention as some may or may not find this appealing. Arruda has done her research and provides some interesting details about the beliefs and superstitions of some of the native tribes of the region. Sorcery is not an element I typically seek out, but when presented in the context of this historical setting as a part of the daily life of many of the African people, I felt it was relevant even though I couldn’t buy into it personally. Overall, I enjoyed this first in the Jade del Cameron series. The mystery wasn’t very compelling and was a bit easy to solve, especially considering I rarely read mysteries and therefore am not the quickest detective in the crowd! However, the cast of characters were for the most part likeable, except for the baddies of course, and the African setting was well-drawn. There was enough adventure and danger to keep the pages turning, at least when I had the rare luxury to sit and read during the busy holiday season. I am interested in finding out what Jade is up against next and will likely continue with the second book in the series.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Werner

    This series opener, Arruda's fiction debut, came to my notice back in 2006, from reviews in the library trade publications when it was first published. I'm delighted that I finally got to read it; it definitely didn't disappoint! It did, however, surprise me in one respect. All of the marketing for the book and series is oriented towards the mystery genre, and the review(s) I read didn't hint at any cross-genre appeal. I knew, from the cover copy, that it featured skulduggery which the African n This series opener, Arruda's fiction debut, came to my notice back in 2006, from reviews in the library trade publications when it was first published. I'm delighted that I finally got to read it; it definitely didn't disappoint! It did, however, surprise me in one respect. All of the marketing for the book and series is oriented towards the mystery genre, and the review(s) I read didn't hint at any cross-genre appeal. I knew, from the cover copy, that it featured skulduggery which the African natives attributed to sorcery; but I assumed that, as usual in the genre, this would prove to be a "Scooby-Doo" type device (maybe The Hound of the Baskervilles would furnish a more grown-up example :-) ), in which a faked supernatural disguise was unmasked as a cloak for natural crime. But as my recommendation and choice of shelves telegraphs, that's not the case here! Readers who are put off by the supernatural should be duly warned --although my wife, who initially wanted no part of an actually supernatural premise and only agreed to the choice of the book (I read it out loud to her, as our "car book") because I told her honestly that I'd be very surprised if it had any "real" supernatural elements, was hooked early and hard and didn't mind the premise, when it became clear, one bit. :-) Readers like me, for whom supernatural elements are a plus, will find that an added bonus! Arruda takes the reader on an exciting ride, from the trauma and dangers of the Western front in the closing months of World War I, to the polyglot bustle of the (unpaved) streets of 1919 Nairobi, and on to the beauty, mystery and deadly danger of the colonial African bush. These settings are evoked with a skill that's the fruit of obviously serious research (the short Author's Notes in the back of the book cite several solid primary-source books on the Africa of that day, as well as on the experiences of WWI women ambulance drivers), but that's integrated into the text without info-dumps or display for its own sake. The plot holds reader interest every minute, and the author's prose style makes for a quick read. Jade herself is a wonderful character, brave, smart, caring, tough and capable --definitely Barb's and my preferred kind of heroine! (She did not, as the Goodreads description implies, pick up her rifle skills during the war; she grew up on a New Mexico ranch, where she was used to hunting.) She's not without physical and emotional damage from the war, and has a hot temper (which she doesn't always control well); and in some respects Arruda makes her appear somewhat slow on the uptake, in not tumbling to the identity of the culprit(s) sooner. (If the book has a weakness, it's that this is too easily guessed, despite the author's attempts to mask it by not allowing Jade to suspect it; this wasn't a prohibitive flaw for either my wife or myself, though.) But she's a very easy heroine to like, admire, and root for all the way! The other characters are well-drawn and likeable (or hate-able!) as well. The colonial Africa of Arruda's literary vision is realistic (far more so than Burroughs'!), but it's more balanced than either the Africa of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, which evokes mostly its fear and menace, or of Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter, which tends to stress the grungier and more sordid aspects. Fear and menace is present here, as well as a sense of age-old mystery, but it's balanced by beauty and a feeling of invitation to adventure; and the grungy and sordid is there, as it is anywhere, but we get the feeling here that life doesn't have to focus on that unless we choose to. The wonder of the continent is captured here, at a moment in time when it was still relatively unspoiled, when the wildlife was hunted but not yet endangered, and when the native cultures weren't totally assimilated by the steamroller of modern "civilization." Arruda makes her native characters real people as well, not stick figures there to tote loads and wait on the whites (though they do some of that), and she gives us a heroine commendably free of race prejudice. (Jade has Hispanic --and possibly some Moorish-- blood herself.) We're not exposed to the full brutality that British rule sometimes entailed, as readers are in James Ngugi's A Grain of Wheat; but we get glimpses of the racism of the time (happily not shared by all the Brits here!) This is as much action-adventure fiction as it is a mystery or tale of the supernatural; and like most action adventure, it has some violence. However, none of this is graphic or dwelt on; Arruda may have one character vomit on discovering a mangled body, but she won't make the reader join in. :-) Bad language is relatively mild (and there's no obscenity) though there's a bit here and there; Jade will cuss some herself if circumstances evoke it, but she often prefers more creative, and sometimes humorous, expletives probably derived from the slang of the Southwestern frontier. There's also no sex, either explicit or implied. I'd highly recommend this book to most readers that I know. The sequel, Stalking Ivory, is already on my to-read shelf and BookMooch wishlist; and this time, I hope I don't wait eight years to read it!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christina ~ Brunette Reader

    3,5 Stars Let the itinerary be a blank slate, and let the adventure write itself. —The Traveler, London — February 1919 A nice blend of action and evocative historical setting, Mark of The Lion is an enjoyable mystery set against the backdrop of colonial Kenya. After having served as a voluntary ambulance driver along the trenches of Great War France, where she had to endure danger and loss, before returning back home to the United States Jade accepts to embark on a mission to fulfil a loved on 3,5 Stars Let the itinerary be a blank slate, and let the adventure write itself. —The Traveler, London — February 1919 A nice blend of action and evocative historical setting, Mark of The Lion is an enjoyable mystery set against the backdrop of colonial Kenya. After having served as a voluntary ambulance driver along the trenches of Great War France, where she had to endure danger and loss, before returning back home to the United States Jade accepts to embark on a mission to fulfil a loved one’s last wish, which will take her from London to Africa and on an investigation about murder and secret family ties. Written in a smooth prose and with a good sense of time and atmosphere, the book proved to be engaging as a whole. I thought the narration lost focus around the middle part, but the plot soon picked up right after and the final outcome was satisfying enough to make me want to go on with the series and see what adventures, love and self-discovery Jade will encounter next.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lolly's Library

    I admit, I went into this book with preconceptions, which probably increased my disappointment with it. Being such a huge fan of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series as I am, a series concerning the exploits of an adventurous Victorian woman, I had been on the lookout for another similarly-themed book or series. When I saw Arruda's book, I was excited, thinking I'd found an Amelia Peabody stand-in for those long lags between Peters' book publications. After all, it's a story of a bold America I admit, I went into this book with preconceptions, which probably increased my disappointment with it. Being such a huge fan of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series as I am, a series concerning the exploits of an adventurous Victorian woman, I had been on the lookout for another similarly-themed book or series. When I saw Arruda's book, I was excited, thinking I'd found an Amelia Peabody stand-in for those long lags between Peters' book publications. After all, it's a story of a bold American woman, Jade de Cameron, a former ambulance driver on the French front lines during WWI, who undertakes the fulfillment of a dying man's last wish, a quest which takes her to the wilds of East Africa and into the heart of darkness (ooh, such a cliché, but I had to use it). The concept is great and sounds wonderfully exciting, but the actual execution is disappointing. After the initial chapters set on the French battlefields, full of explosions and near-misses and heart-pounding action, the excitement quickly drops off and the story dissolves into a weak mystery (in which the perpetrator is quickly identified by any astute reader, leaving us to suffer through many more pointless chapters of characters running around like chickens with their heads cut off as they try to solve the murders, poorly-done "red herrings," and unnecessary breaks in the story to allow brief babbling excerpts from the villain's P.O.V., a feature which does nothing to enhance the narrative). As we wait for the mystery to be (finally) resolved, we're treated to what basically amounts to a travelogue of East Africa in the 1920's with a bland quasi-romance thrown in for good measure. Halfway through the book, with my patience worn thin and the culprit already figured out a few chapters back, I couldn't help thinking that if this were a tale of Amelia Peabody, she would've already gotten into a scuffle with some minor miscreants, been kidnapped by the Master Criminal, escaped, figured out what treasure had inspired the M.C.'s interest, and been on her way to grabbing it first, as well as had a loving quarrel or two (with the requisite romantic making-up afterwards) with Emerson (who would've been knocked on the head at least once already) and (depending on his age at the time of the story) corralled/rescued/disentangled Ramses from some sort of perilous situation. In comparison, Arruda's story had barely gotten off the ground. And while the landscapes of Africa are lovingly and lavishly detailed (the aspect in which Arruda's writing talent shines), narratives rich enough that you can hear the cough of lions in the sunset-shadowed savanna, the laugh of hyenas on the prowl in the inky night, passages where you can almost smell the earth baking under the noon sun and hear the crisp grass bending in the breeze, it almost clashes with the flatness of writing when it comes to the rest of the novel. The characters are 2-D and uninspiring, with no real purpose other than to orbit Jade and provide motives for her movements. Jade herself is rather jarring, her independent spirit coming off at times as heavy-handed and anachronistic. Again, to compare (probably unfairly), while Amelia Peabody is feisty, independent and bold, those traits are always with the context of the times in which she was born and raised and lives. So while she'll wear Bloomer's bloomers and defy certain conventions when and how they become cumbersome to her, to other rituals and mores she'll adhere fiercely and become quite shocked at the idea of doing otherwise. Jade comes off more as a woman of the 21st century plonked down in the 1920s: there's no obvious chafing from her at the constraints against women of that period, no indication that she's of her time yet slightly ahead of her time, no evidence that her independence costs her anything either socially or emotionally. She's bold and everyone simply accepts that, attributing her independence to the fact that she's American and just doesn't "get" the social niceties of the society around her, a cop out that doesn't sit well with me. I won't say this is a bad book, but I will say, in order to finish it because I was so bored, I skimmed over the last third. Otherwise, I don't think I'd been able to force myself to slog through and finish the book in a normal fashion. With a plodding storyline and a lackluster plot, I fear this book has little to recommend it. It's possible the succeeding books in the series improve, however I doubt I'll give them a try to find out.

  5. 5 out of 5

    notyourmonkey

    If I could, I would rate the descriptions of East Africa at least 3 stars, all the rest a grudging 2 stars. I wanted so much to like both this book and this heroine, both of which should have been right up my alley, but they were steadfast in their refusal to give me the slightest hook of appreciation. The mystery was patently obvious and hamhandedly presented; the text tells us the heroine is smart and clever and then has her utterly oblivious to the easily-obtained answers to the mystery. And, If I could, I would rate the descriptions of East Africa at least 3 stars, all the rest a grudging 2 stars. I wanted so much to like both this book and this heroine, both of which should have been right up my alley, but they were steadfast in their refusal to give me the slightest hook of appreciation. The mystery was patently obvious and hamhandedly presented; the text tells us the heroine is smart and clever and then has her utterly oblivious to the easily-obtained answers to the mystery. And, really, the heroine is at the root of most of the problems with this book. I can handle sketchy stock characters to flesh out a scene, but when your heroine seems to be mostly a compilation of Designated Personality Quirks (she hates tea and loves coffee, because it's less stuffy har har, we're going to tell you this at least twice in every scene where she might possibly consume a beverage!; she's anachronistically modern and egalitarian and independent, and god help us all, spunky) and a lot of telling entirely mismatched with the showing, it's hard to hang a novel on the strength ("strength") of that. This was also hurt by the imprecision of the POV, which was alternately deep in Jade's head then making descriptive, flattering commentary about her lithe figure, effortless style, and entrancing green eyes. I just. I wanted to like her so much. Former ambulance driver in World War I! An adventuress striking off as a reporter on her own to fulfill a dying request! And instead she was this slapdash amalgamation of Cool Girl (she's too practical to be interested in all that lesser girly stuff; she has no truck with fashion and her own appearance but is effortlessly beautiful and attracts all the boys while being admired by all the other girls; did we mention she likes coffee and thinks tea is silly? also she's the best shot, the best mechanic, and the bravest hunter ever) with genuinely moving, well-written moments of PTSD flashback. And let's not even get started with some of the race issues. Our independent (she's American, you see), anachronistic heroine thinks the way most of the Happy Valley set treat the local populace is kind of despicable (and she's right!), but the narrative hardly backs her up with her "and I will treat them better and no different from anyone else" prospect. The one character of color with any sort of significant onscreen presence and a personality beyond "mysterious, possibly wise, possibly crazy mystical person," is a little boy who just, like, stops showing up halfway through with scarcely a handwave, and the glaringly obvious MacGuffin has hardly any dialogue at all. (I can't really penalize them for being poorly sketched stock characters, because that's true across the board.) It's hard to believe in the heroine's protestations of equality when the author doesn't even come close. All that, though, and I may still seek out the next book in hopes that the author gets better at writing people, because gosh her writing about landscape and animals was enjoyable.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karmen

    jade is a fantastic character. look forward to having her more fleshed out in the future books. The story takes place after Jade served as an ambulance driver in WW1 France. She undertakes a journey to fulfill her boyfriend David's last request to locate his brother. A brother that his father sired while in East Africa. Her journey, coupled with an introduction by a rather high ranking member of the British aristocracy, opens her world to what is now Kenya and its environs. Characters: Harry Hascom jade is a fantastic character. look forward to having her more fleshed out in the future books. The story takes place after Jade served as an ambulance driver in WW1 France. She undertakes a journey to fulfill her boyfriend David's last request to locate his brother. A brother that his father sired while in East Africa. Her journey, coupled with an introduction by a rather high ranking member of the British aristocracy, opens her world to what is now Kenya and its environs. Characters: Harry Hascome, Roger Foster, Pili (David's brother by Ethiopian woman) and Jenali (porter at Nairobi hotel). Biscuit, Harry's pet cheetah.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Now this was a Ripping Yarn, something I haven't read for a while. A quest, a doughty female heroine, adventure in Africa in the aftermath of WWI (remember The African Queen? The war touched Africa too, as Germany, England, and France all had colonies there). And, a touch of the supernatural.It might not do to enquire too closely into the believability of everything in the story. Just enjoy. Highly recommended, I'll be reading more of this series. Now this was a Ripping Yarn, something I haven't read for a while. A quest, a doughty female heroine, adventure in Africa in the aftermath of WWI (remember The African Queen? The war touched Africa too, as Germany, England, and France all had colonies there). And, a touch of the supernatural.It might not do to enquire too closely into the believability of everything in the story. Just enjoy. Highly recommended, I'll be reading more of this series.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ria the Wannabe Librarian

    4.5 🌟!!! This was a delightful murder mystery set in Africa. Fans of Rhys Bowen's Lady Georgiana mystery series + Elizabeth Peter's Crocodile on a Sandbank series will like this riveting historical mystery featuring plenty of action and suspense as well as a strong female character lead. Definitely continuing on with this series. Highly recommend! 4.5 🌟!!! This was a delightful murder mystery set in Africa. Fans of Rhys Bowen's Lady Georgiana mystery series + Elizabeth Peter's Crocodile on a Sandbank series will like this riveting historical mystery featuring plenty of action and suspense as well as a strong female character lead. Definitely continuing on with this series. Highly recommend!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Renae

    Flat "mystery" with underdeveloped characters, an unsatisfying and unexplained paranormal twist, and complete lack of awareness when depicting the impact of colonialism on East Africa. Flat "mystery" with underdeveloped characters, an unsatisfying and unexplained paranormal twist, and complete lack of awareness when depicting the impact of colonialism on East Africa.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Belva Shelor

    GOOD read. Indiana Jones jas nothing on Jade. The setting was Nairobi, cant wait to see it in person.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jadaloves

    This book really surprised me. I have to be truthful and tell you I only really bought it because I wanted to read a mystery and the heroine’s name was Jade. My name is Jade so my vanity was definitely at play in my choice of book here! As I began reading I had my doubts as to whether or not I would really enjoy this book. As I had been discovering and loving historicals though, I thought I’d give it a try even though the period is not what I’m used to. I’m glad I stuck with it. I will say this b This book really surprised me. I have to be truthful and tell you I only really bought it because I wanted to read a mystery and the heroine’s name was Jade. My name is Jade so my vanity was definitely at play in my choice of book here! As I began reading I had my doubts as to whether or not I would really enjoy this book. As I had been discovering and loving historicals though, I thought I’d give it a try even though the period is not what I’m used to. I’m glad I stuck with it. I will say this book started off very slowly. The heroine as an ambulance worker during the war was pretty brilliant to me. I love that she had a great purpose outside of her own wants and comfort zone. But the story kind of dragged in the beginning. From almost the beginning we know what her mission is; to find her recently deceased friend’s lost brother, and discover how his father died as the circumstances were suspicious. So when she gets to Nairobi, I’m expecting her to just jump right into her assignment since she is so driven by her friend’s last wish. But she meets some locals and gets familiar with the area and the people before anything really starts happening. I will say the author does almost immediatley start playing up the back story that will eventually tie into everything. And strange things do begin to happen to and around Jade but to me it doesn’t seem as if she is actively looking for clues to Gil Worthy’s death or the loction of his other son. There are many opportunities to ask questions and inquire about things that she just lets slip by or she’s not as firm or persistant as she could be. Especially considering she’s from the West. But when her friends Beverly and Avery arrive, things finally seem to pick up and Jade begins to slowly uncover the mystery surrounding Gil Worthy and his lost son. Once they go on their Safari things really begin to start happening and that’s when I finally found myself really engrossed in the book. But unfortunately the Safari starts when more than half the book is done. I would have like to get to all the action a bit sooner, or at least have a bit more in the first half. But as slow as the first half began is how fast the second half picked up and it did not disappoint. With several animal attacks, the uncovering of the identity of Gil’s surviving son, and the discovery of the ‘map of rings’, Jade thinks she has it all figured out until the true intentions of her traveling companions surface. Fueled by David’s last dying wish and an uncanny will to survive, Jade finally learns the truth of Gil’s second son and discovers a murderer in their midst. Overall it was a great story and I recommend reading it if you like mysteries and period pieces. Jade del Cameron is a great heroine with great personality. She’s very likeable and definitely believable. Great story, pick it up! I’ll defintely be getting the other books in this series.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan Ferguson

    Read the second book of this series because this one wasn't yet available as ebook (which it now is). That was intriguing enough to make me want to read this one to see what went before. Just finished first chapter and I'm hooked.... Jade del Cameron is an ambulance driver for the French in the war. She is often teased for liking the Model T ambulances, but she could fix them and find parts for them when she needed to. She is an excellent driver and a crack shot because she grew up on her parents Read the second book of this series because this one wasn't yet available as ebook (which it now is). That was intriguing enough to make me want to read this one to see what went before. Just finished first chapter and I'm hooked.... Jade del Cameron is an ambulance driver for the French in the war. She is often teased for liking the Model T ambulances, but she could fix them and find parts for them when she needed to. She is an excellent driver and a crack shot because she grew up on her parents ranch in New Mexico and was quite independent, managing in the remote areas of the ranch on her own - killing predators and dealing with other things that came up. Jade had turned down a proposal of marriage from David Worthy, a pilot, who swore to win her with his feats of daring. One of these caused his plane to crash near the hospital. With his dying words, he asked Jade to find his brother and that his father's death was suspicious. No one knew he had a brother. When Jade returns to London, she visits his mother who declares that such was not the case - no brother, nothing suspicious about his father's death in Africa. She takes a solicitor's card from the silver tray of people who called on his mother - and finds out something very different from the solicitor. Feeling that she owes David, Jade goes to Africa. Being so independent she has little patience for the customs among the colonials and begins to impress that fact upon them, by killing a dangerous "witch" hyena and punching a drunken fellow at the club. It helps that her best friend, Bev, has married an English duke who has insisted she have letters of introduction - which impress many of the people she meets. She acquires several allies among the population because of her spirit and courage. She is paying her way through Africa by working for a travel journal and writing an article for publication. There are several (quite a few) obstacles thrown in her way in the effort to discover David's younger brother and she eventually figures out what is going on. There are also episodes of drug smuggling, witches, and prospecting. The most serious encounters are caused by the "witch" and his animal familiars. But she has received protection from the shaman of the village she protects by killing the hyena. The headings of the chapters are brief descriptions of Africa that supposedly appear in her article, showing the love she has developed for the country. Now, I shall have to reread the second book and read the rest of the series -- and so it goes.....

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Jade del Cameron is an American woman attached to a British ambulance corps serving in France during WWI. One night as she's transporting injured soldiers from the front to the evac hospital, she sees an air fight in progress and recognizes the plane's marking as belonging to her RAF pilot friend David. David's plane crashes and she is able to be with him in the final moments. As a dying request, he removes a ring from his finger and gives it to Jade with instructions to find his brother. After Jade del Cameron is an American woman attached to a British ambulance corps serving in France during WWI. One night as she's transporting injured soldiers from the front to the evac hospital, she sees an air fight in progress and recognizes the plane's marking as belonging to her RAF pilot friend David. David's plane crashes and she is able to be with him in the final moments. As a dying request, he removes a ring from his finger and gives it to Jade with instructions to find his brother. After the war, she begins investigating and learns that the brother was illegimate and that the father died mysteriously while searching for this son. Jade uses her job with a travel magazine as cover and travels to British East Africa (now Kenya) to try to fulfill David's request. I'd happened upon this and thought it sounded really good. Since I was going to be on travel for most of a week, I took this along figuring it would last me the trip which it did but only because of limited time to read. There's a bunch of history in here; from the credits at the end, it sounds like Arruda did her research to hold true to the period - both during the war and in the colony. The story is fast paced and certainly kept my attention. My only negative comment is the extent of witchcraft in this, but it is an integral part of the storyline. A couple nights, I had some reallty strange dreams after reading and feel that my mind had been opened up to the witchcraft which directed those dreams. I could make some comparisons from this to the Maisie Dobbs series: women who served during WWI who go on to investigation after the war, while dealing with war memories. The difference is that Maisie's profession is investigation, while Jade is doing it to fulfill a friend's request. I'm glad this is a series; I'm looking forward to reading the other books and seeing how Jade's character develops further. This one certainly ended with a possibility to go in a number of directions.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Out of SF/F mode for a while, and jumping over into mystery/vaguely paranormal, I have just finished off Suzanne Arruda's first Jade del Cameron novel, Mark of the Lion. Jade has just survived a stint as an ambulance driver in WWI France, and has promised the pilot she loved to carry out his dying wish: to go to Africa and finding his long-lost, heretofore unknown brother. Complicating the matter is a mysterious laibon who has been sending beasts he controls to carry out attacks around the count Out of SF/F mode for a while, and jumping over into mystery/vaguely paranormal, I have just finished off Suzanne Arruda's first Jade del Cameron novel, Mark of the Lion. Jade has just survived a stint as an ambulance driver in WWI France, and has promised the pilot she loved to carry out his dying wish: to go to Africa and finding his long-lost, heretofore unknown brother. Complicating the matter is a mysterious laibon who has been sending beasts he controls to carry out attacks around the countryside--and who soon targets Jade herself. And there is of course a love interest, the rancher Harry Hascombe, who may well be of dubious motivations himself--yet who is percolating Jade's interest despite her still mourning her lost David. I've got a few stylistic quibbles with the book, along the lines of "I really didn't need you to tell me four or five times throughout the initial stretch of the story that Jade has short black hair and that Harry is powerfully built, y'know". The ending fell a little flat for me--though I will also give it credit for making me uncertain about the eventual identities of pertinent characters until they were finally revealed. I'll also admit that it gave me a bit of a twinge to see otherwise great characters going on safari to shoot random creatures for purely trophy purposes, too--though that was hardly out of character for a bunch of Europeans in Africa just after WWI. And I will say that the overall atmosphere of the setting is very evocative in Arruda's hands, especially the descriptions of Mount Kilimanjaro. Moreover, there is a promise of a complex relationship to build between Jade and Harry, as this book ends on a very uncertain note with him--and the next one, which I'd actually bought first, brings in a rival for her affections. I'll be reading that one next. For this one, four stars.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Set in 1919, immediately after WWI, this first book in a series introduces Jade Del Cameron, an American from New Mexico who drove ambulances in France during the war. The last request of a dying soldier leads her to British East Africa to search for his long-lost brother and investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding his father's death. The strength of the novel is the atmosphere and setting. Colonial Africa is brought to life convincingly. The heroine, like many in historical fiction Set in 1919, immediately after WWI, this first book in a series introduces Jade Del Cameron, an American from New Mexico who drove ambulances in France during the war. The last request of a dying soldier leads her to British East Africa to search for his long-lost brother and investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding his father's death. The strength of the novel is the atmosphere and setting. Colonial Africa is brought to life convincingly. The heroine, like many in historical fiction, is very modern and unconventional, passed off as a result of being American and from the West. Many of the characters are delightful. The mystery, however, was weak from the beginning. Easily predicted, with the reader having too much knowledge and the heroine slow to catch on. That being said, it was quick, fun reading and I'm going to seek out the next book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    NebulousGloom (FK)

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The premise was really excellent - an American woman who drives an ambulance at the front in WWI witnesses tries to honor her beau's dying request to find his lost brother in Africa. The story got a bit draggy in places, but all in all told a good - if predictable - story. I expected about half of the ending, and honestly at this point a white witch doctor is pretty much a scooby doo ending. Unfortunately, the author also used the much hated "interruption technique", in which a character has imp The premise was really excellent - an American woman who drives an ambulance at the front in WWI witnesses tries to honor her beau's dying request to find his lost brother in Africa. The story got a bit draggy in places, but all in all told a good - if predictable - story. I expected about half of the ending, and honestly at this point a white witch doctor is pretty much a scooby doo ending. Unfortunately, the author also used the much hated "interruption technique", in which a character has important information but is interrupted mid-sentence. At least in this story the bit of information probably seemed trivial to the speaker, but still that trick sucks.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Found this at the library and took a chance. Enjoyed it enough to be willing to read more but wasn't entirely "blown away." The setting is fun--post WW1 East Africa--with lots of wildlife, colonial idiosyncrasies and cultural flavor; the heroine was kinda cool, but sometimes felt a little too "much" for her time setting (shades of Lara Croft without the gadgets, jumpsuits or artifacts) but enjoyable enough. There's an element of fantasy/magic with a powerful witch-doctor as the enemy and that's Found this at the library and took a chance. Enjoyed it enough to be willing to read more but wasn't entirely "blown away." The setting is fun--post WW1 East Africa--with lots of wildlife, colonial idiosyncrasies and cultural flavor; the heroine was kinda cool, but sometimes felt a little too "much" for her time setting (shades of Lara Croft without the gadgets, jumpsuits or artifacts) but enjoyable enough. There's an element of fantasy/magic with a powerful witch-doctor as the enemy and that's intriguing. Could've used a little more emotional depth but hey, it was a fun read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    dfenn78

    This book is a murder mystery set in Africa after WWI. Jade Del Carmen is a fearless female hunter/photographer, don't mess with me kind of lady who stumbles into a tale of murder and ancient, tribal witchcraft. This book is a murder mystery set in Africa after WWI. Jade Del Carmen is a fearless female hunter/photographer, don't mess with me kind of lady who stumbles into a tale of murder and ancient, tribal witchcraft.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Deb Atwood

    The author did a good job of immersing the reader in the sights and sounds of the post WWI era. The MC is feisty and brave. And the safari stuff was interesting--how they carted china and crystal out to the savanna. I felt bad about the shooting of animals as trophies though.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Fareeha

    What an amazing read! I’m so very glad that I stumbled on this series as being an ardent life-long fan of Africa, this book breathed life into all my mental images of it. Beautifully written often lyrical at times, superbly describing its settings that I could actually hear the sounds and smell the smells; it transported me so completely into its 1920s colonial world, that I often forgot that it’s actually a murder mystery. Jade is a fantastic protagonist in the vein of everlasting heroic indepe What an amazing read! I’m so very glad that I stumbled on this series as being an ardent life-long fan of Africa, this book breathed life into all my mental images of it. Beautifully written often lyrical at times, superbly describing its settings that I could actually hear the sounds and smell the smells; it transported me so completely into its 1920s colonial world, that I often forgot that it’s actually a murder mystery. Jade is a fantastic protagonist in the vein of everlasting heroic independent characters with a strong internal compass. Her strengths and attitude are perfect for the African setting. References to famous characters like Patterson, Blixens, doesn’t come off as random name-drops but are part of the setting. Tsavo and it’s lions (Patterson’s account and subsequent movie have been favorite since I was young); this book is a book after my own heart by just how it has handled Africa. As for the mystery part, it’s charm of combining the mystery of African beliefs and its adventurous setting for a murder makes for an engrossing read. The answer is apparent eventually and some scenarios seem a tad far fetched but I wouldn’t have not read this book even if it’s mystery was nothing. Loved it and plan on continuing the series!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    The descriptions of Africa were amazing, made you feel like you were right there. You were hearing, smelling, and seeing the same things Jade was. This part is why I'm giving the book 4 stars. The mystery was intriguing but seemed secondary to Jade's storyline, but it worked. She is going about her life while she solves a mystery and it was enjoyable. There were some technical issues when the author talked about guns. She seems to know what guns were used and whipped those names out without a pr The descriptions of Africa were amazing, made you feel like you were right there. You were hearing, smelling, and seeing the same things Jade was. This part is why I'm giving the book 4 stars. The mystery was intriguing but seemed secondary to Jade's storyline, but it worked. She is going about her life while she solves a mystery and it was enjoyable. There were some technical issues when the author talked about guns. She seems to know what guns were used and whipped those names out without a problem, yet pistols have grips, not handles, saddles don't have holsters, they have scabbards. I don't know if she chose those words for and audience that doesn't know about guns or if she didn't know. If it is the former, I'm highly disappointed, and author should never write down to an audience, they should respect us enough to assume intelligence. I do appreciate the author not shying away from guns and hunting in this anti gun climate. However, to those that are uncomfortable, you need to know that all of this is a minor part of the story and it should not keep you from reading the book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Judy Hall

    Jade Del Cameron, raised on a ranch in the Southeastern United States, volunteers to drive an ambulance in France during World War 1. One particularly hard day, she watches her friend, and maybe someday something more, David, crash his plane. As she hold him while he is dying, he asks her to find his brother. The problem is, he doesn't have one. When the war is over, she reaches out to David's mother, who doesn't want to have anything to do with her and to David's lawyer, who would be thrilled i Jade Del Cameron, raised on a ranch in the Southeastern United States, volunteers to drive an ambulance in France during World War 1. One particularly hard day, she watches her friend, and maybe someday something more, David, crash his plane. As she hold him while he is dying, he asks her to find his brother. The problem is, he doesn't have one. When the war is over, she reaches out to David's mother, who doesn't want to have anything to do with her and to David's lawyer, who would be thrilled if she would help look for the missing heir in Africa. not to mention, looking into the mysterious death of David's father. Making her way to Nairobi, she becomes involved with the local British population as she goes looking for answers. I had read in a review, that the opening scenes were harrowing, but I didn't find them that difficult, which is what resulted in only 3 stars. As she got to Africa, the book got better and better and I truly enjoyed it. I think I may enjoy reading more.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nichole Carrier

    This book has the makings for a fantastic series. Everything starts with a kick ass heroine who isn't afraid to speak her mind or act on her instincts, plus she has the skills to back it all up! Jade is a former WW1 ambulance driver who now finds herself thrown into colonial Africa solving a multitude of mysteries. Being the first book in the series, there were several characters to introduce and that became confusing. It got better as the core group developed, but there were times where I could This book has the makings for a fantastic series. Everything starts with a kick ass heroine who isn't afraid to speak her mind or act on her instincts, plus she has the skills to back it all up! Jade is a former WW1 ambulance driver who now finds herself thrown into colonial Africa solving a multitude of mysteries. Being the first book in the series, there were several characters to introduce and that became confusing. It got better as the core group developed, but there were times where I couldn't figure out who was who and needed to make a little cheat sheet. The plot was thought out well and executed brilliantly. Overall, the book read a little slow, but then again I would attribute that to the fact that it's the first in the series and a lot of things needed to be set up. I'll definitely continue reading the series and I look forward to seeing what else Jade can uncover.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Jade del Cameron was an ambulance driver during World War I. Her fiance, David Worthy, was a pilot who was killed when his plane crashed. When Jade reached his crash site, David placed a ring on her hand and asked, with his dying breath, to locate his brother. Jade reaches out to his mother but Mrs. Worthy informed her that David was an only child. Jade travels to Africa to search for the answer at the request of Mr. Worthy's lawyers and meets an array of amazing characters. She goes on a safari Jade del Cameron was an ambulance driver during World War I. Her fiance, David Worthy, was a pilot who was killed when his plane crashed. When Jade reached his crash site, David placed a ring on her hand and asked, with his dying breath, to locate his brother. Jade reaches out to his mother but Mrs. Worthy informed her that David was an only child. Jade travels to Africa to search for the answer at the request of Mr. Worthy's lawyers and meets an array of amazing characters. She goes on a safari with the new acquaintances and soon discovers that there is someone or something that doesn't want her to find the answers she seeks. This is a good series and this is the first installment. Jade is a character that is unique and fearless. A very good read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Beaumont

    Fun protagonist and very nice setting. Other than the slightly superfluous descriptions of everyone (yes, I get it, Jade’s eyes are green like the emeralds and Beverly’s hair is gold like the sun), the book was very fun! It also in general didn’t leave racism and sexism unchecked, which makes it miles better than most “accurate historical fiction.” Also, I can usually tell I’ll like a protagonist pretty well when the comments whine that she’s (always a woman, of course) is “anachronistically mode Fun protagonist and very nice setting. Other than the slightly superfluous descriptions of everyone (yes, I get it, Jade’s eyes are green like the emeralds and Beverly’s hair is gold like the sun), the book was very fun! It also in general didn’t leave racism and sexism unchecked, which makes it miles better than most “accurate historical fiction.” Also, I can usually tell I’ll like a protagonist pretty well when the comments whine that she’s (always a woman, of course) is “anachronistically modern,” meaning she’s not a fainting damsel and can do things without a man and (god forbid) has strong opinions. Women and other minorities have ALWAYS been strong and smart and wanted equality - it just wasn’t always legal to write about it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sara G

    This was a decent historical, set in British East Africa right after WWI. Our heroine, Jade, is a former ambulance driver in France during the war, and she finds herself in Africa trying to fulfill her beloved's dying wish, that she find his brother. Of course, nothing's ever that simple in a mystery book. I liked the setting a lot but the mystery was way too easy to figure out, and Jade's character was pretty boring and two dimensional to me. I probably won't continue the series, but I really, This was a decent historical, set in British East Africa right after WWI. Our heroine, Jade, is a former ambulance driver in France during the war, and she finds herself in Africa trying to fulfill her beloved's dying wish, that she find his brother. Of course, nothing's ever that simple in a mystery book. I liked the setting a lot but the mystery was way too easy to figure out, and Jade's character was pretty boring and two dimensional to me. I probably won't continue the series, but I really, really enjoyed this author's depiction of Africa, and the inclusion of the Blixens was cute.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jek

    Not very likable main character, I didn’t connect with her, felt like she was trying too hard at many points and she didn’t feel real. Some of the secondary characters were better developed and I enjoyed them. Witty at times but easy to figure out the plot so there was no mystery. Also repeats a few blatant points which leaves my intelligence feeling insulted and annoyed at the main character for rehashing things she’s already said multiple times. The idea/premise was great, just not the book fo Not very likable main character, I didn’t connect with her, felt like she was trying too hard at many points and she didn’t feel real. Some of the secondary characters were better developed and I enjoyed them. Witty at times but easy to figure out the plot so there was no mystery. Also repeats a few blatant points which leaves my intelligence feeling insulted and annoyed at the main character for rehashing things she’s already said multiple times. The idea/premise was great, just not the book for me.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    It's been a long time since I've given up on a book, but I just couldn't handle this one. The beginning was engaging, but it then turned dark and uncomfortable and icky and unbearable. Arruda's writing is good; that wasn't the problem for me. I guess it was the gore. I usually love "between the wars" mysteries with strong female leads, but this one didn't have it. Maybe I'll try again in the future or with a later installment in the series. May you have better luck. It's been a long time since I've given up on a book, but I just couldn't handle this one. The beginning was engaging, but it then turned dark and uncomfortable and icky and unbearable. Arruda's writing is good; that wasn't the problem for me. I guess it was the gore. I usually love "between the wars" mysteries with strong female leads, but this one didn't have it. Maybe I'll try again in the future or with a later installment in the series. May you have better luck.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    Another author introduced to my through my mystery book club. I would love to visit the Kenya from decades ago. I was a little put off at first by the witch-that-controls-animals plotline, but the suspense and mystery, along with the wonderful Jade character, pulled me in. Will definitely read more of this author/series.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jehnie

    Not finished. This book reads like a 1980s Epcot Center version of characters. They are much too caricatured and stereotyped to be realistic. The world has changed since this was published and it shows.

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