cover image Animals


Will Staples. Blackstone, $27.99 (292p) ISBN 978-1-09-406588-5

Screenwriter Staples, creator of the Disney+ drama series The Right Stuff, makes the tragedy of animal trafficking vivid in his impressive debut. South African Cobus Venter, a ranger who has lost colleagues in shoot-outs with rhino horn poachers, embarks on a perilous mission to Southeast Asia to try to stop the powerful criminals behind the slaughter of wildlife and people. Venter’s path eventually crosses that of American insurance investigator Randall Knight, who has found evidence that tiger breeding to create an exotic animal could cause a pandemic. Readers should be prepared for some shocking cruelty—at one point, poachers shoot a baby elephant in the stomach so that its terrified wails will lead adult elephants to gather and make them easier to kill. Staples skillfully weaves multiple plot strands, including CIA efforts to combat terrorism, with well-developed characters. His extensive research pays off in this moving, multifaceted tale. Agent: Mel Berger, WME. (Mar.)