"Macpherson's Elephant," written by Edward Ostrosky and published in 2018 is set in the north of South Africa on the border of Mozambique. The area's become famous for the elephants of Tembe Elephant Park and community involvement in sustainable conservation. However, this Book was set in the days before the spa and lodges offered tourists sundowner drinks around the pool. It's set in the days of Frelimo and Renamo who fought each other in Mozambique after the Portuguese left.

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Macpherson Elephant tells the real story of the poaching crisis in Africa

Border patrols, armed conflict, relentless poaching of animals and delicate politics all contributed to the difficulty of protecting the elephants in the area.

Edward Ostrosky, Vietnam and Rhodesian war veteran turned game warden, managed the reserve and nearby Ndumu. The fight for wildlife is far from the imaginings of many people who assume game rangers flit about watching animals and sipping wine in the sunset. For those who enjoy a story about armed combat, and those who want to know more about what it means to be on the frontline of the poaching war, this book is well worth the read.

Something indefinable in the book

The trouble with book reviews comes when the writer tries to explain the story without spoiling the ending for those who haven't yet read it. So, this is a review of the character depth, the writing style and something almost indefinable that emerges as the book grows. And grow, it does. Edward chose to base the book on events that happened but clearly says in the introduction that it's a novel.

But no writer is able to truly hide their inner soul from readers. There's something to take away from "Macpherson's Elephant" that I hope others will find. Perhaps it's because I married a veteran soldier and game ranger, that I recognize it, but the spirit of what drives people to serve wildlife is beautifully illustrated in the novel.

Most people enjoy a trip into the wilderness, in search of nature, of serenity and inner peace. Like so many of those who work in the wilderness, game rangers often have a sense of God. There are things in the wild that appeal to some deeply primal need for spirituality and this book manages to highlight that despite the death, blood, exhaustion, and danger the job brings. Then there's the elephant itself and its relationship with rangers, scouts, and poachers. How can a man know what an elephant is thinking? Well, it seems Edward does and he makes it believable.

Characters and depth

Character depth is well constructed, especially in the way the junior scouts and Zulu people interact with each other and the main character.

Meet the armed rebels, the thugs, the opportunists and the superstitious. They are well crafted and presented so that even non-Africans get a feel for the characters who lived through those times. If there is criticism, it's in the character of Macpherson's wife, Anne. So much more could have been done to explore her deeper nature. The story outline explains that "Battling poachers, night ambushes, contact with AK-wielding poachers and epic hunts, take a toll on Macpherson and his marriage while his sense of duty sends him on one last hunt." Anne could have used a bit more crafting, but she still remains a believable and relevant character.

Setting the scene took some time. This is not a book that takes the reader straight into a tense adrenalin rush. The approach is understandable, as Edward Ostrosky has American roots and knows that readers foreign to Africa need to have a picture painted in words to fully understand the background. The words masterfully weave a mental image and his way with words does indeed paint pictures, smells and sounds. It's the type of book that draws the reader in as it progresses. By the middle of it, it becomes impossible to put down. As the tension builds, you share the dark, the cold, the stark danger and the disturbing thread that gets woven between uSathane (Satan) the elephant, and the main character Macpherson.

Masterful ending to Macpherson's Elephant

Just when you think the book has ended, it hasn't. Just when you think you know the secrets of Macpherson's mind, you discover that you don't. There's a sense of new beginnings at the end of the book yet also possibilities more of the same dangerous dance, where nothing changes. This is the type of masterful ending that the likes of Stephen King manage. It wouldn't be a big surprise if this book ends up in film. "Macpherson's Elephant" is available on Amazon and you may preview some of it on Scribd.