Mark of the Leopard by Kathy Stewart, Authors’ Ally, 2015
From the author of Chameleon comes this historical fiction novel, Mark of the Leopard, the second in the African history series, a story of romance, mystery, danger and betrayal set against a backdrop of wild lands and raging seas.
In 1703 Sabrina Barrington and her children are shipwrecked and presumed drowned off the Cape of Good Hope, the site of the present-day city of Cape Town. Fourteen years later, an investigator tells Sabrina’s brother, Lucien Castle, that one of his sister’s children has been seen on the island of Madagascar, off Africa’s east coast. It is imperative to return the youngster to England before his twenty-fifth birthday, otherwise his grandfather, the corrupt and detested Robert Barrington, will usurp his rightful inheritance. Castle is the only one who can confirm the young man is not an impostor. In order to do this he must leave the comfort of Amsterdam in Holland and embark on a journey into the unknown.
Will Castle be able to overcome his demons and find his nephew in time? Or will he succumb to the perils that beset his epic expedition every step of the way?
In a voyage that takes them from the untamed island of Madagascar to the storm-tossed Dutch outpost at the Cape of Good Hope, Castle and his companion must face innumerable dangers and battle not only rival investigators but also each other.
Review by Hazel Barker
Mark of the Leopard by Kathy Stewart is a fast-moving story that is difficult to put down. It is a novel rich in history and laden with suspense. The author has clearly done extensive research and woven it seamlessly into the novel. She uses her skills as an historian to write a gripping yarn.
The characters, and in particular, Lucien Castle, who goes in search of his nephew, Tom Barrington, spring from the page. A sense of guilt regarding his wife and children, stirs Lucien to help his sister’s son. He fears the sea and faces his fear time and time again, in order to save the boy.
Kathy Stewart is a versatile writer and is the author of children’s books as well as several books of non-fiction.
Mark of the Leopard is her second novel. Her debut novel, Chameleon was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award in 2010.