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Authors: Suzanne Arruda

Tags: #Mystery, #Historical

Stalking Ivory

“Suzanne Arruda is fast creating her own unique and popular niche in mystery fiction. With deep research and rich imagination, she gives us Africa, in the 1920s, and a bold new heroine in Jade del Cameron. This is a series that deserves a long life.”

—Nancy Pickard, author of
The Virgin of Small Plains

Praise for
Mark of the Lion

“From the extraordinary opening sentence in the shell-torn trenches of France in the Great War to the green hills of British colonial East Africa,
Mark of the Lion
sweeps the reader along with an irresistible narrative and literary drive. If you’re looking for a fresh new mystery series, a vivid historical setting, and an especially appealing heroine, look no further. One of the most memorable mystery adventure stories I’ve read in a long time.”

—Douglas Preston,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Tyrannosaur Canyon
and coauthor of
Dance of Death

“Jade del Cameron…brings new meaning to the word
gutsy
. Vividly portraying the long-ago age of shooting safaris and British stiff-upper-lip attitudes, this novel is filled with appealing characters.”

—The Dallas Morning News

“This debut novel delivers on its unabashedly romantic premise and for good measure throws in a genuine mystery…. It’s storytelling in the grand manner, old-fashioned entertainment with a larger-than-life heroine far ahead of her time.”

—The Denver Post

“Set in 1919, Arruda’s promising debut introduces a heroine who’s no ordinary Gibson girl…. Most readers will close this charming book eagerly anticipating the next installment of Jade’s adventures.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Jade del Cameron is smart, capable, and insightful…and although
Mark of the Lion
would be a good read just for Arruda’s encyclopedic knowledge of Africa, it is Jade herself…that readers will remember best. Arruda has given us a literary hero in the tradition of Sir Richard Burton and H. Rider Haggard, but without the burden of nineteenth-century sensibilities.”

—Max McCoy, Author of the Indiana Jones Series and
A Breed Apart: A Novel of Wild Bill Hickok


Mark of the Lion
carries a feel of authenticity that makes me long to return to Africa…[and] should position Jade del Cameron as a heroine for many future adventures.”

—Peggy Anne Vallery, Past President of the Arizona Chapter of Safari Club International


Mark of the Lion
is historical mystery at its best with a dynamic amateur sleuth and a well-drawn supporting cast of quirky characters. First-time author Suzanne Arruda hits the reader with a gripping opening and builds tension, twists, and turns from there…a compelling premiere performance…. I hope Arruda’s working on her second book!”

—Karen Harper,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Hurricane
and the Queen Elizabeth I Mystery Series

“There’s something for everyone in this new series debut—mystery, history, adventure, travel, even a bit of romance.”

—Library Journal
(starred review)

“Readers will compare this gem of a historical investigative tale to Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ladies Detective Agency thrillers. The story line is cleverly written so that fans will obtain a taste of life at the end of WWI in England and Africa as Jade goes from one escapade to another…. This is the start of what looks like to be a long friendship between historical mystery fans and Jade del Cameron.”

—The Best Reviews

“Arruda manufactures an intriguing backdrop for the debut of her new series, delivering both a heady sense of East Africa’s cultural and geographical landscape during the early 1900s and an outspoken heroine, who proves herself gratifyingly ahead of her times in numerous ways.”

—Booklist

“Arruda’s debut is an enjoyable romp through a colorful place and period in which the heroine has a Douglas-Fairbanks-in-a-split-skirt charm.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“An exciting, well-paced debut…. Arruda’s [Africa] feels more like a travel writer’s—awesome beauty that is unknowable and untouchable. But it’s a place worth visiting. And Jade is a character worth getting to know.”

—The Philadelphia Inquirer

O
THER BOOKS IN THE
J
ADE DEL
C
AMERON SERIES

Mark of the Lion

STALKING IVORY

A JADE DEL CAMERON MYSTERY

SUZANNE ARRUDA

Obsidian
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi-110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Previously published in a New American Library edition.

Copyright © Suzanne Arruda, 2006
All rights reserved

OBSIDIAN
and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition of this title as follows:
Arruda, Suzanne Middendorf, 1954–
Stalking ivory : a Jade Del Cameron mystery/Suzanne Arruda.
p. cm.
ISBN: 978-1-1012-1113-7
1. Women private investigators—Kenya—Fiction. 2. Americans—Kenya—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3601.R74S73 2007
813’.6—dc22             2006020780

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
   The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

This book is dedicated with all my love to Joe,
the love of my life.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

M
Y THANKS TO
the Joplin Writers Guild for help with chapter 21; the Pittsburg State University Axe Library Interlibrary Loan staff for all the books; National Wild Turkey Federation’s Women in the Outdoors program for continuing opportunities to experience aspects of Jade’s adventuresome life; Dr. John Daley for information on rifles and sidearms; Dr. Stephen L. Timme for valiant attempts to help me track down the as yet elusive
Premna maxima
; my NAL publicists, Tina Anderson and Catherine Milne; my agent, Susan Gleason; and my editor, Ellen Edwards, for their continued belief in the series; all my family—Cynthia, Dave, Nancy, The Dad, James, and Michael—for helping me shamelessly promote the book; and my father (The Dad) for teaching me never to feed an elephant bean burritos around open flames. I especially wish to thank Joe, the greatest husband a writer could ever want, for all his help and support.

CHAPTER 1
A
FRICA,
January 1920

Many people who consider themselves experts on Africa have no more experience than what they read in an Edgar Rice Burroughs book. The genuine article is much more intriguing.

—The Traveler

T
HE LAST ELEPHANT COW
smacked her baby on the rump with her trunk, and the calf squealed and trotted after the rest of the herd.

“I’m betting if it hadn’t been for that lovesick bull elk, I wouldn’t be stuck up in this tree with you, Bev, hiding from elephants.”

Jade del Cameron watched her friend’s wide-eyed reaction with a great deal of amusement. The herd had passed beneath them, brushing their bulky sides against the stinkwood tree’s trunk. Jade’s former ambulance corps comrade Beverly Dunbury had clutched an overhead limb for dear life, her blue eyes bugging out of her head. Once the pachyderms melted back into the forest, Bev relaxed her grip on the branch and sank onto the blind’s planking. The scent of bitter almond hung heavy in the air from the bruised leaves. Jade shifted in the tree blind and resumed setting up her equipment for a night shot.

“You will simply have to explain that to me,” Beverly whispered as she fanned herself.

“Of course. Several years ago there was this
big
bull elk hanging around my family’s ranch in New Mexico. Eight points at least. That’s the size of his rack, his antlers.” She paused to see if Beverly understood and decided she didn’t. “It shows he wasn’t a calf and not a real old-timer, either. Anyway, it seems he fell head over hooves in love, so to speak, with one of our horses, and—” Jade cut her narrative short as a loud trumpeting ripped through the forest. “Whoa, now. Speaking of bulls, that sounds like our big old fellow. Gads, but I want to get a good photograph of him. He’s so ancient that his tusks nearly cross each other. Probably would if he hadn’t broken one of them.”

“Too far away to hunt up tonight,” added Beverly’s husband, Avery, from the other side of the tree blind. He patted the book in his hand, which he’d been reading. “If Africa were anything like this chap’s tales, we’d run across a snarling lion every ten yards and rampaging elephants once a day. I say, his jungle is positively oozing the brutes. You can’t take ten steps without kicking one.” He closed the book with an audible snap and sighed. “
I
haven’t seen a single lion since we entered the Northern Territory.” He glanced over at Jade and recalled her Swahili name of Simba Jike, “lioness.” “Well, only one.”

“Is that one of those new Tarzan books I bought for you?” asked Beverly. She glanced at the title,
Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar.
“Edgar Rice Burroughs may not have the animals quite right, but he does know how to describe a handsome, brave British lord.” Beverly saw her husband’s scowl and added, “It’s as if he meant you, darling.”

“He’s American,” Jade said as she twisted a slender wire onto a battery’s positive terminal.

“No, Tarzan is Lord Greystoke. He’s British.”

“Not Tarzan, Burroughs. He’s an American.” Jade picked up the coil of wire and looked up in time to see Beverly reach for the first wire. She slapped Bev’s hand away. “Don’t touch that.”

“Is this contraption really going to take pictures?” Avery inquired. He put down his book and scooted over the narrow planking to inspect the work in progress.

“It did in Nairobi, but we’ll get our field test tonight,” Jade said. “In theory it should. At least I’ve rigged it correctly up here.” She patted the Graflex gently.

“When did you test it in Nairobi?” asked Beverly. “Did you set something up by the pond at our house?”

Jade chuckled, her voice warm and mellow. “Now what would I photograph at your house, Bev? I’d have done better at Neville and Madeline Thompson’s coffee farm. At least that looks African. You’ve turned yours into a proper English estate with all those rosebushes.”

“You might have taken a picture of whatever ate all her peacocks,” suggested Avery. “Lion, I suspect.”

“Well, unless you wanted to offer him another peacock as bait, I doubt I’d have seen him. No, I rigged up a test line outside of the Muthaiga Club. Put it near some of the cars during the party Lord Colridge threw for his son Edmunde’s homecoming.” What an evening that had been, most notable for the conversation she’d had with Blaney Percival, the Protectorate’s chief game warden. It had all seemed so incongruous: her dressed in her best apricot-colored gown, Mr. Percival in evening kit, surrounded by half of Nairobi society, discussing elephants and dangerous poachers as casually as the others talked of dinner parties and flirtations.

“I wouldn’t recommend this sort of trip to a woman, but I believe you could tackle it, Miss del Cameron,” Blaney Percival had said over the blare of the gramophone.

Jade’s skin tingled as he spoke those words. “Would I find many elephants?” she asked. “More than at Mount Kenya?”

“Undoubtably, and I’ll even send word to Isiolo to let the patrol up there know you’re coming. In return, though, I want you to do me a favor….”

“Jade! Pay attention. I’m trying to talk to you.” Back in the present, Beverly put her hands on her hips and scolded Jade. “You’re a sneaky little devil! I’d wondered where you’d gone off to during the dancing and why you looked so smug when you came back. All this time I’d hoped you were off having a romantic tête-à-tête with someone.”

Jade snorted and adjusted the camera’s lens again.

“So
that’s
what made that bang and glaring white light,” said Avery. “As I recall, our Jade told everyone it was just someone taking potshots at the electric lights again.”

“I remember Mrs. Seton shrieking like a peacock,” said Jade. “Did you see the expression on Colridge’s face?” She hooted and slapped her right thigh. “What am I thinking? Of course you didn’t. It was shoved in Mrs. Seton’s bosom when she clutched him like he was the last life raft on the
Titanic
.”

Beverly folded her arms across her chest and tapped her foot. Only a few lip twitches betrayed her amusement at Jade’s story. “Well, are you going to keep us in suspense, or are you going to tell us what set off the flash?”

“It must have been an animal, correct?” asked Avery. “Everyone else was dancing or in the bar.”

“Wrong.” Jade wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and picked up a roll of slender wire. “I caught a lovely picture of Dorrie Woodard and Mr. Seton. I think Dorrie was trying to get into Seton’s car and he was trying to get in, er, other places.” She shouldered the roll of wire. “All that remains now is to anchor the trip wire across the trail. Cover me, Avery.”

Avery hefted his Mannlicher rifle and scouted the surrounding brush for any hidden danger. “All clear.”

Jade shinnied down the stinkwood tree. The daughter of a New Mexican rancher, she always felt more at home in the wilderness than with crowds of people, and her current position as a writer and photographer for
The Traveler
suited her temperament well. Her first assignment, after her stint as a frontline ambulance driver with the Hackett-Lowther unit in the Great War, took her on safari in Tsavo near Mount Kilimanjaro and gave her a taste for Africa and its wild expanses. Unfortunately, as she was also searching for a murderer at the same time, it also exposed her to the seamier side of Nairobi’s population.

That was why, when Jade had accepted another assignment in Africa from her editor, she had specifically requested to photograph wildlife in an area relatively uninhabited by people. She would have been the first to admit that what she really wanted was to be as far away from humanity as possible and this seemed the easiest way to do it. She’d had enough of people to last a lifetime. Of course Beverly, and Beverly’s husband, Lord Avery Dunbury, didn’t count. They were friends. They now owned some land and a beautiful stone house a few miles outside of Nairobi, and since they planned to make British East Africa their home, Jade had let them tag along.

As she eyed the thick woods surrounding the game trail, she knew she’d gotten as close to her wish for isolation as possible. Mount Marsabit was as remote an area in the Protectorate’s northern frontier as she could have wanted. The heavily forested volcanic craters were an oasis of wildlife in the middle of desolation. To the southwest lay the Kaisoot Desert; to the east the Chalbi; and to the north, the even more inhospitable black lava wastes of the Dida Galgalla Desert. Somalia sat two hundred miles east and Nairobi, with all its pretension, was at least a blessed 250 miles away as the crow, or in this case the cape rook, flew.

Unfortunately, other people sometimes stalked these forests, and Jade’s conscience reminded her that she hadn’t come just for the solitude. A distant echo of rifle reports emphasized both points. Blaney Percival had told her about this hidden spot when she asked for a good location to photograph elephants. In return, she promised to relay information on the current poaching. So far she hadn’t seen any evidence, but she didn’t kid herself. Where there were this many elephants, there would be poachers.

Jade chose an African olive tree across the game trail and tied the wire around its trunk. Then she ran the thin strand a few inches above the ground to her stinkwood tree blind, passed it under a spool that she’d staked into the ground, and tossed the rest of the coil up to Beverly.

“Does this end go to that little switch?” Beverly asked.

Jade scrambled back up the tree using a rope ladder and reached a hand up for Avery’s assistance. “That’s correct,” she answered as she swung a leg over a floorboard.

Avery lowered his rifle and studied the setup. “I see. Rather ingenious actually. I wondered how you planned to take a photograph in the dark without being here.”

“Hopefully this switch at the battery will set off the magnesium flash powder in that pan at the same time as the shutter is released,” Jade explained. She gingerly slipped a nooselike piece of wire over the shutter release.

“But won’t the elephant, or whatever strolls by, just pull the whole contraption out of the tree?” asked Beverly.

“I’ve anchored the camera down with clamps. The trip wire is close enough to the ground to be stepped on, but if an animal did snag a foot on it, the wire is so thin, it should snap as soon as it pulls any farther than I’ve allowed.” Jade stepped back and examined her work. “At least under the weight of an elephant,” she added. “I’m counting on smaller animals missing it entirely. Just keep your fingers crossed and pray I’ve set the focal plane correctly.” Jade fussed with a rubberized hood that covered most of the camera. “I’m more concerned with moisture on my lens than anything.”

“The long rains aren’t due for another month at least,” Avery reminded her.

“That doesn’t stop the fog every morning,” Jade replied as she gave a final tug to the hood.

“Oh, hang the fog!” declared Beverly. “What happened with the lovesick elk? You didn’t finish your story.”

“Oh, him? Where’d I leave off?” She paused in thought. “Right, the horse. So this big old bull elk, he really had a passion for one of the old cow ponies.” She laughed. “No question of taste, I guess. Anyway, he hung around that paddock for several days till one day he just went berserker and kicked in a section of the fence. Trotted in there as proud as you please, rack held high. Strutted around like some…” She paused to mull over an appropriate description.

“Like a rooster in a henhouse?” suggested Avery.

“More like a duded-up dandy with fifty dollars loose in a floozy house.”

Beverly blinked, her mouth hanging open. “I
don’t
want to know how you know that.”

“Of course that cow pony wanted nothing to do with him.”

“I presume the mare was in heat?” asked Avery, trying to get Jade back onto the story.

“No. That’s the funniest part of all—the horse was a gelding.” Jade bent over to gather up her knapsack. “So the pony,” she began, but she never got any further. At the instant she leaned down, something whizzed a few feet above her head, the sound punctuated by the crack of a distant rifle.

“Thunder and blazes!” exclaimed Jade.

She dropped the pack, snatched up her Winchester, and bolted for the rope ladder as more reports exploded in the distance.

“Jade!” yelled Beverly as she grabbed her friend’s sleeve. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“Let go, Bev,” Jade said, her voice low and husky with anger.

“No! Avery, help me hold Jade.”

Avery grabbed for Jade’s right arm, pulling his head back to avoid being clobbered by a rifle butt when she tried to swing free of his grip.

“Blast it, you two,” Jade snapped. “Let me go. Someone’s shooting at us.”

“We’re not letting go,” retorted Beverly, “until you settle down and act like a rational human instead of a wound-crazed buffalo.”

When Jade didn’t immediately agree, Avery added, “I have rope if I need it, Jade. Be reasonable. Much as you may enjoy it, you cannot go off into the forest and pummel someone.”

Jade exhaled with a tremendous sigh, her shoulders sagging as she admitted defeat. “All right. I promise. But,” she added as her friends released her, “they better hope I don’t find them.”

Beverly behaved more stoically. “Settle yourself, Simba Jike. We don’t have a game permit for shooting nearsighted hunters.”

“You don’t need a permit to shoot hyena, jackal, or jackass,” countered Jade. “If I hadn’t bent over at just that moment, that bullet might have gone through me rather than the tree. Worse yet, it nearly hit my newest Graflex. People heal up, but a shot like that would be fatal to a camera.”

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