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A Question of Desire

The Third Volume in the Judge Ment Trilogy

 

A MISSING FRIEND/A STRANGE DEATH/ THE PRICE OF DESIRE

When William Ment’s friend and colleague disappears mysteriously, the authorities conclude that he met with a fatal hunting accident.

An appeal hearing reveals a twist that convinces Ment that there is more to the incident than meets the eye.

The trail leads the reluctant, amateur sleuth away from his courtroom and into unfamiliar territory as he attempts with the help of his friends, to discover the truth and satisfy his inquiring mind.

What has a dangerous, rhino poaching syndicate and a rogue lion got in common, and is there a link between a sexy goddess of love, a slimy rat, and a deserted stretch of beach?

 

“A fast-paced, adventurous, legal mystery with a hint of psychology and wit.”

 

Dedicated to those who are devoted to saving the rhino from extinction

 

Excerpts from the book

 

I grew up in this area and always wanted to stay here. Frank found this place for me. I went to art school before I worked at the club and they said I’m a pretty good artist. I started painting again and I’ve been quite successful with Frank’s help. He knew the owner of a gallery and soon I was exhibiting there. These portraits on the wall are all mine.”

He had noticed the paintings when they entered. The themes all seemed the same and clothing was not part of it. He thought that they were very good judging them by his standards. The girl had a definite talent with a brush.

Two looked very much like self-portraits and one reminded him of Gustave Courbet’s, “Woman with a Parrot.” A vivid image of a naked, young woman lying back as her red hair lay dishevelled around her head, her legs spread slightly apart as she gazed up at a handheld mirror instead of a bird.

“There should be a parrot in that one but I’m terrified of birds,” Mandy said.

“So you have ornithophobia?” Ment remarked.

“No, I’m just afraid of birds,” she replied, appearing annoyed and puzzled.

 

 

“What’s that stuff running down the sides of its head?” Ment asked.

“It’s temporin,’ Bosch replied. “ They secrete it when they’re in musth. Just stand still and he’ll move off.”

“Are you getting this on film, Josie?” Riley asked quietly.

“Yes,” Alice whispered from behind the camera.

“What the hell’s he doing now?”

The ground trembled as Zimvali stamped his foot down, picking up dust, and tossing it in their direction. It reminded Ment of the sound in the movie Jurassic Park when a large reptile was about to make its appearance. His feeling of apprehension was also alarmingly familiar.

“I don’t think he likes us,” Ment said.

The elephant’s massive ears were spread out and he made piercing, excited trumpeting sounds.

Bosch slowly raised his rifle. “Easy now,” he said. “I think he’s just testing us. Start to move backwards very slowly.”

His companions needed very little prompting before they all started what appeared to be a clumsy attempt at a moonwalk. Alice continued pointing the camera in the direction of the intimidating animal.

Zimvali seemed to receive a cue too and was now shaking his head pugnaciously from side to side. From the way that he was flapping his ears, Ment imagined that he was attempting to take off and attack them from a strategic position in the air.

“Just keep going,” Bosch said. “He’s still bluffing.” The confident tone of his voice was reassuring—that of an expert who had witnessed scenes like this often, and had lived to tell the tale.

The change was sudden, but so blatantly obvious to even the layman’s eye. The ears were no longer flapping, but pinned back and the giant trunk and head were lowered like the blade of bulldozer ready for construction work.

 

 

“You know rifles then?” Bosch asked, sounding surprised.

“A bit. I’ve done some hunting myself. I’ve got a Ruger.”

“Not a bad choice. That judge-guy that Sarah killed was a really keen hunter and from what he told me, very experienced. He had a fantastic custom-built H & H made by Kilimanjaro, specially built for a leftie too. It must have cost him a small fortune. Stainless steel barrel, diamond blur chequered bolt, diamond fleur engraving, and ebony forearm end caps—the whole works.”

“He was such an experienced hunter, why would he get himself into such a situation?” Ment probed.

 

 

“I had a restless night and at one stage felt pressure on my chest and had difficulty breathing. As it became light, I woke up and looked straight into a pair of cold, steely black eyes staring back at me. I first felt a shockwave flow through my body, but I tried to calm down quickly. I knew I wouldn’t survive if I panicked.”

“What the hell was it?” Riley queried.

“Sounds like a leopard,” Ment said.

Bosch chuckled and took another sip. “No, it wasn’t a leopard. Coiled up on my chest was a huge black mamba. From the weight and the coils I estimated it was about four metres long.’

 

 

Bosch turned onto another gravel road that snaked through dense vegetation. He pulled up sharply.

“Up ahead!”

They stared ahead, at first only noticing a gentle movement in the trees to their left before the huge, grey monster made its appearance. Its head was held low and it moved almost mechanically like a wind-up toy. The giant horn growing from its face appeared out of place and cumbersome—an appendix that caused more harm than good.

“It’s one of our white rhino,” Bosch said.

“Is that the sort that is being poached?” Alice asked.

“Yes.”

Riley quickly seized the moment. “Are there any syndicates poaching on this farm.”

“I don’t know about syndicates,” Bosch said, “but there has been a lot of poaching. We’ve lost twelve in the last year.”

“What’s being done about it?” Ment asked.

“There is a patrol that works on the farm, but they haven’t been able to catch anyone yet.”

“Why not?”

“Whoever’s doing the poaching is pretty well organised. This is a large piece of land and the patrols can’t be everywhere.”

“And that’s the reason why it’s probably a syndicate.”

“I wouldn’t know anything about that,” Bosch said.

They watched as the gentle giant left the road and disappeared into the dense bush on the opposite side.

 

“Yes, but we’ve come this far and we can’t stop now. I’ve got a feeling that the body is still around here somewhere.”

“You may be right but look at this place. It’s a natural burial ground for everything that is tossed out of the sea. With the shipwrecks in this area there are probably a whole lot of bodies already buried here. After a wind like we had the other evening, and the shifting sand dunes, it could be buried ten metres below the sand.”

 

 

Read all three volumes. Also available in a single edition

 

Available here

 

 

 

 

Paperback at Createspace and on Amazon

 


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