Cover Image: Cry of the Firebird

Cry of the Firebird

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Member Reviews

I was really looking forward to this book. It sounded right up my alley. Part romance, part mystery/thriller, set in exotic South Africa, written by an [now] Aussie author. But…

Okay, good parts… There is a plot. WHO doctor Lily is sent to South Africa to take over at a clinic when the previous doctor is murdered. There, she and the local policeman start to investigate what her predecessor had discovered which cost him his life. Before too long, however, they realise she too might be in danger and a target of the assassins.

Being from there originally, Clark does include a lot about the troubles of the South African peoples in this book. The multitude of diseases which are quite out of control, in particular HIV; the horrific murder and major crime rates, resulting in security measures which sound crazy to an Aussie; and the poverty and displacement of so many. However, at times (actually, most of the time), Clark presented these details in a textbook-like fashion. It became a little tiresome, reading characters' thoughts about how much crime there was etc etc and I wish someone (a publisher or editor?) would have guided Clark on how to insert these otherwise interesting details into the story a little more organically.

Actually, I wasn’t a fan of Clark’s style of writing overall. The book seemed to read like a first draft, where scenes and ideas had been put down but nothing was yet fully fleshed out or polished.

When a book is set in Africa, I automatically expect to read about the wonderful wildlife there but, again, Clark disappointed me somewhat in this respect. There are mentions of some plants and animals, but I wouldn’t say I was feeling like I’d gone on a safari. (The scenes featuring the flamingos are actually a little creepy as they’re written from the birds’ point of view!) Instead of finishing the book and thinking, ‘I’d love to go and see all the natural beauty of South Africa’, all I thought was, ‘there’s far too much crime for me to contemplate going to South Africa’.

There really wasn’t much of a romantic subplot as I imagined there would be either.  Lily is already happily married and there is no silly forced love triangles and they are mature characters at least, so Clark gets points for this.. We also get a [brief] flashback of them meeting but unfortunately, again, it reads like more of an apartheid history lesson than a sweet meet cute.

The book also suffers from the same issue as so many modern titles - it’s too long. In fact, one particular plot point Clark throws in near the end felt out of place.  It had nothing to do with the plot up to that time, and there hadn't been much of a clue that Clark was planning on including the idea. I really think it should have been cut completely and used for a different book.

Anyway… I’m not sure I’ll rush to read Clark’s other titles (although I have already got a few on my ereader). I would only give this a 2 out of 5, 2 1/2 at a pinch.
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Book blurb...

In the badlands of Africa, a resourceful doctor fights to save her patients' lives. Australian thriller writer T.M. Clark returns with a vivid, action-packed adventure in the tradition of Wilbur Smith. 
South African-born Doctor Lily Winters, a consultant with the World Health Organization, has been in the thick of some of the worst humanitarian disasters across the globe. But when she's posted back to South Africa following the suspicious death of an ex-colleague, she faces the biggest medical mystery she's ever seen. 
The resettled Platfontein San People population is exhibiting a higher than average HIV epidemic, and their people are dying. The cases Lily takes over are baffling and despite her best efforts the medicine doesn't seem to be helping. 
To save this unique community, Lily and a policeman from the Kalahari, Piet Kleinman, join forces to trace the origins of the epidemic and uncover the truth. Their search drags them into the dangerous world of a corrupt industry driven by profit while the authorities meant to protect their community turn a blind eye. In a race against time Lily and Piet will put not only their careers but their lives on the line...

My thoughts...

This plot is built around a dedicated Doctor and an honest Police Officer. Both characters become indirectly involved in corruption within a pharmaceuticals company. Readers will be drawn by the magnificent cover of this book that features the Pink Flamingo. The bird element is woven through as a sub plot, adding a naturalistic perspective to the landscape and the story.

While the end game is about saving lives, the story moves at an easy pace — a nice change from the usual edge-of-your-seat crime/adventure books (and Cry of the Firebird is a bit of both).

As with every T M Clark novel, the reader is transported and provided with the author’s perspective on the South African landscape. I also enjoyed learning about this intriguing bird, which made me Google more. (see below) 

I liked the two main characters, Lilly and Piet, but was often frustrated with Lilly who seemed to put herself in harms way. 

I particularly enjoyed the sub plot and enjoyed learning about the Pink Flamingo's life in South Africa.
Bet you didn’t know the flamingo was once considered an Australian species. Read why with Australian Geographic
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‘Many people in South Africa have witnessed too much extreme violence, and the stress of living here, it takes its toll, no matter how beautiful the country is.’

I am a big fan of T.M. Clark and once again Tina delivers with another awesome tale set in the heart of Africa. I have enjoyed each one of her books where she chooses a different aspect and produces not only a riveting tale but also shines the spotlight on a contemporary issue. Whilst sure to include the stunning landscape and unique cultures, Tina is a master at subtly drawing attention to some of the more darker and sinister sides to this great continent. 

Cry of the Firebird tackles the controversy surrounding corruption in the pharmaceutical business and also the police force of post apartheid South Africa. Tina has certainly done her research here in terms of settings and culture but also right down to the array of issues presented. These range from poverty and crime, to medical research and HIV. She even touches on the debilitating Alzheimer’s and the medicinal use of cannabis. I am not usually a fan of so many highly rated issues being  incorporated into the one story, however, Tina does it all and really well. 

‘If they had spent time educating everyone, there might have been a marked difference. Hindsight is a wonderful gift created to haunt us, isn’t it?’

Having livid in Namibia for a time, I particularly appreciated the plight of the San and thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with Kalahari policeman, Piet Kleinman and the trips out to the clinics. Cry of the Firebird is a rich and multi layered tale that is not only filled with action and adventure but also provides real depth into sensitive issues. Readers will appreciate Tina’s ‘Fact v Fiction’ addition at the conclusion of the tale. 

‘We did not care about what country passports we carried back then, we could always walk through the bush. This is how it has always been done. Out there in the Kalahari, where our ancestors came from, all the San tribes once knew each other. In essence, we are all one people. Even with all the different languages, inside our hearts we are the same. Now governments have put up big fences and country borders, and we are told we as a people are not allowed in the Kalahari anymore.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
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T.M. Clark returns with another gripping African adventure/crime thriller. Set in South Africa, Cry of the Firebird dives into the grim world of tainted pharmaceuticals, corruption, gang violence, and the AIDS epidemic. This novel is exactly the type of gripping crime I favour within the genre. And as is the way with T.M. Clark, the beauty of Africa’s wildlife makes its mark upon the page, along with a cast of characters who demonstrate that it is possible, even in the most dire of circumstances, for humanity to prevail. With cutting edge themes and high action, Cry of the Firebird is one of my recommended Summer reads.
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When Dr Ian Hawthorne, the doctor working in South Africa, was murdered, Dr Lily Winters was offered the position to carry on the work. A consultant with the World Health Organization, Lily knew the HIV epidemic was skyrocketing and many were dying. She needed to find out why the escalation and what was causing it. Lily and her famous husband, musician Quintin Winters, flew from their home in Brisbane Australia to South Africa for Lily to begin her work.

As Lily settled into her role, the patients she was seeing out at the Platfontein community were showing signs of sickening quickly. The people she admitted to hospital and administered strong antibiotics to weren’t improving and Lily was puzzled. With the policeman who’d been a close friend to the murdered doctor, Piet Kleinman, Lily managed to locate her ex colleague’s notes. But as they investigated, the danger escalated and what they uncovered was nothing short of shocking. Corruption, murder and money – a dreadful combination which they knew they had to bring to the authorities. But who could they trust? A game of cat and mouse; would there be any winners?

Cry of the Firebird is another wonderful book (with a spectacular cover) by Aussie author T.M. Clark and I especially enjoyed the side story of the flamingos – Minke was adorable, as was Tiger the cat. The challenges Lily, Quintin, Piet and the others faced was astronomical – the corruption, revenge, evil criminals and more were disturbing. But it was the twist toward the end which made me sad. Highly recommended.

With thanks to Harlequin MIRA (@harlequinaus @romanceanz) for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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This is an action packed story about corruption in the medical world.

Lilly is a doctor that works for the world health organisation and she is called back to Africa when people from the Sans tribe are not improving event though they are been given anti virals to fight the AIDS epidemic. Africa has bad memories for Lilly and her husband but there is no way she can refuse to return she needs to get to the bottom of what is happening. In Africa she works with Piers a local police officer who has a connection to the Sans tribe. With her predecessor been murdered there is obviously more going on here than there appears Can she discover what is going on with the medication even though she is dealing with multi national pharmaceutical companies and corrupt police. Will she also become a victim You will have to read to see I guarantee that you won't be able to put this book down once you start it.
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I really enjoy MS Clark’s stories and this one is a compelling page turner and fast paced, the setting is amazing and she holds no punches in what is going on in this story, with corrupt police and medications that are not what they should be. There is a lot happening in this book and I do highly recommend picking this one up and getting to know Dr. Lily Winters and her adoring husband musician, Quintin.

Lily is working with the World Health Organization and is asked to return to Africa and continue research into HIV epidemic in a town of people from the San tribes after the previous Doctor, Ian Hawthorne has been murdered, Lily and her husband Quintin have worked there before and Africa holds a lot of bad memories for them, but there is no stopping Lily and her quest to get to the bottom of why these people’s health is not improving.

Lily is in danger from the beginning she never gives up on working out what is going on and with the help of police detective Piet who is a member of the San tribe they are slowly unravelling what is going on, with danger around every corner everyone is kept on their toes, there are some fabulous characters in this story that make this story so good not to mention the evil ones that are in it as well.

This really is an action packed story, with so much going on I did not want to put this one down but wanted to get to the end I needed to get my questions answered and see some people get their just deserts and when I did put it down the wonderful characters stayed with me. There is also the story of Minke the flamingo that had me smiling, I loved learning about these majestic birds. This truly is a book that I highly recommend to anyone who loves a suspense story and the beautiful love that Lily and Quinin shared.
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‘Dead bodies tell their secrets to the right coroner.’

Doctor Lily Winters, a consultant with the World Health Organization, has provided care in some of the worst humanitarian disasters across the globe.  After the death of a colleague, Ian Hawthorne, she accepts a posting back home in South Africa, despite her husband’s objections.  The death of her colleague is suspicious, but this is not the only mystery Dr Winters encounters.  There is a higher than average HIV epidemic amongst the resettled Platfontein San People which isn’t responding to medication.  Why?  The World Health Organization is concerned.  And who killed Ian Hawthorne?

There are several different threads to this story, with at least three elements of mystery.  Lily Winters and Ian Hawthorne had some history, and she is keen to prove that past events in Sudan could have been avoided if the authorities had listened to her instead of to him.

I don’t want to spoil the story by revealing any more.  Suffice to say, Lily and her husband Quintin, have several challenges ahead of them.  Corruption, criminals, retribution and revenge each have a part to play.  There are several memorable characters and (for me at least) a twist which left me saddened.

‘I am now a firebird, and after much travelling over long distances, I know this is where I belong.’

Highly recommended.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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