Game Drive, by Marie Moore: Villains in the Veldt

game_driveGame Drive ($13.95, 222 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-961-9), is a cozy mystery by Marie Moore about a New York-based travel agent on a research trip for her agency who suspects foul play after a colleague is killed in a tragic accident. Game Drive is the second book in a series featuring amateur sleuth Sidney Marsh. This time Sidney’s travels take her to Cape Town, South Africa, and a private game lodge near the Kruger National Park.

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Both Shore Excursion and Game Drive have been specially chosen for inclusion on Holland America and Seabourn Cruise Lines onboard libraries.

“Marie Moore has scored another triumph with GAME DRIVE. Excellent!! It will keep the reader glued from the first page to the surprising ending.”

–Shelley Glodowski, MBR (Midwest Book Review) Bookwatch

“Moore’s safari mystery proves that humans are more dangerous than wild animals! Compelling and well-written.”

—Sarah Wisseman, author of the Lisa Donahue Archaeological Mysteries

“In Game Drive, I was impressed with how well Marie Moore introduced so many characters and defined them well enough that I didn’t have to keep flipping back to their introduction to see who they were. This is something that always impresses me. I can truly say that visiting Africa through Marie’s eyes was a delight and joy.”

Molly Weston, Editor of InSinc, The Journal of Sisters in Crime, and Meritorious Mysteries

“Talk about a real page turner. I couldn’t put it down, such a great adventure and mystery!”  Read more …

–Paula Mitchell, Community Bookstop

“With a vividly picturesque landscape as the backdrop and surrounded by a great supporting cast, this safari mystery adventure is an amazing ride and I’m looking forward to their next expedition in this terrific series.”

—Dru’s Book Musings

“Lively, suspense-driven and adventure through-out, Game Drive is an exciting mystery that quickly had me trying to out-guess Sydney.  Moore has a flair for scattering clues through-out, even though sometimes I’m just wrong with my conclusion.  I thought the backdrop was beautifully detailed, bringing the safari to life.  If you enjoy cozy or light mysteries, pick up Game Drive! It can be read as a standalone, but I’d urge you to not miss the first one in the series, Shore Excursion!”  Read more ….

–Wendy Hines, Minding Spot Blog

Sidney Marsh is a Mississippi-born, New York-based travel agent. She and her best friend and business partner, Jay Wilson, are struggling to remain standing in a world where the ground is shifting. Their boss at Itchy Feet Travel has a new scheme to attract customers—safari tour packages. He sends Sidney and Jay on a familiarization trip to Cape Town and safari country to check out the accommodations and confirm that the experience lives up to the hype in the brochures.

Sidney looks forward to the deluxe trip and so does Jay, despite his deathly fear of animals, both wild and domesticated. Their experience will be far wilder than either could have imagined. First Sidney stumbles upon a suspicious rendezvous and possible murder scene in Cape Town. After Sidney’s pocket is picked on a cable-car ride up Table Mountain, she suspects that someone in their group is an imposter, a suspicion that is soon confirmed. At Leopard Dance—the luxury game lodge near Kruger National Park that serves as their base camp—one of the other agents on the “fam trip” turns up dead.

Sidney carries on a risky flirtation with a handsome Afrikaner, who may or may not be the latest manifestation of the “Marsh Curse,” which seems to jinx her every relationship. And Sidney and Jay discover that they have far more to fear from predatory humans than wild animals.

Says Moore, “As Sidney would tell you, the great advantage of working in the travel business is that you get to visit places you might not otherwise be able to afford. Africa is such a place. Africa has always held a fascination for travelers—the actual and armchair kind. After visiting Cape Town, I decided that it was where Sidney and Jay should go next. In my books I seek primarily to entertain, but at the same time to inform, in a small way, about the lot of God’s more vulnerable creatures. In Game Drive, Sidney is stirred by the systematic decimation of Africa’s rhino and elephant populations. Hundreds of these magnificent creatures are being slaughtered every year so that only a fraction of once great populations remain. And when those die out, we’ll be left with nothing but pictures of them, as with the dodo bird and the passenger pigeon.”

Marie Moore is a native Mississippian. She graduated from Ole Miss, married a lawyer in her hometown, taught junior high science, raised a family, and worked for a small weekly newspaper—first as a writer and later as Managing Editor. She wrote hard news, features and a weekly column, and won a couple of MS Press Association awards for her stories. In 1985, Marie left the newspaper to open a retail travel agency, which she managed for the next fifteen years. Both Shore Excursion and Game Drive were inspired by those experiences. Marie is a member of Sisters in Crime. She and her husband now live in Memphis, TN, and Holly Springs, MS. Click here to find Marie online.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“Well, what do you think of South Africa, Sidney, now that you have left proper civilization behind in Cape Town?”

He took my arm and guided me down the steps and along the moonlit path.

My surprise at seeing him again and learning his identity had left me speechless.

“Is it as you expected?” he asked. “Do you like Leopard Dance?”

“I do, I really do. Very much. It is interesting, and so beautiful. I can see why you have chosen to live your life here.”

“Can you now?” he said, smiling, “I wonder. And how do you know how I live my life? You know nothing about me. We’ve only just met. Careful there, love, don’t trip.”

He pointed his light on a protruding root in the dirt path, then slipped an arm around my waist as if to guide me around it.

“Well. I don’t know how you l-live, of course,” I stammered, “I don’t really. I mean, I couldn’t, could I? But I think it must be wonderful to own and run a camp like this, even with all the danger from the animals.”

“It is very satisfying, that’s what it is. And danger is always exhilarating. Always. Life here may seem somewhat monotonous, once you have settled into our routine, but I can assure you that it is not. Much more goes on here than is apparent. There is far more to Africa than lions and tourist camps.”

Just then there was a rustle in the brush ahead. He stopped abruptly and pushed me behind him. Turning his light in the direction of the sound, he pulled a pistol from his coat pocket.

An antelope crossed the path on front of us. It paused to look at us for a long moment, and then bolted.

I didn’t move, staying where he had placed me behind him until the sound of the fleeing animal died away.

“You can come out now. It’s safe,” he laughed, turning to face me, slipping the gun back in his pocket and switching off the light.

“You look beautiful in the moonlight, Sidney, and just as frightened as that gazelle. Relax, lady. There is nothing to fear when you are with me.”

Isn’t there? I thought. I wonder.

“Come,” he said, putting his arm around my bare shoulders and guiding me on down the path. “Let’s just stop in at your hut and leave a note for Mr. Wilson. Then I will take you to my house, offer you a nightcap, and show you how one really lives in Africa.”

Yes! I thought. Oh, yeah.

But it was not to be. Not that night, anyway, because we were met at my door by Felix, with his big rifle.

“Henrik, there is trouble! You must come, come quick. They need you at the guard house.” He burst into a torrent of Bantu.

“Thank you Felix,” van der Brugge said in English. “I will be right with you. You go along now. Tell the others I am coming.”

He unlocked my door for me as Felix ran back down the path. Then he smiled as he said goodbye, with a twinkle in those green eyes of his.

“Ah, well, dear Sidney, it seems that work must come before pleasure. As you heard, there seems to be a bit of a problem that I must handle. Duty calls. Go inside now, and lock the door. Get some rest. We will have to postpone your tour of my house until another time. Sleep well, love.”

And with that he was gone, striding away into the darkness.

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