Narrated by Dion Graham
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Pub Date 30 Mar 2021 | Archive Date 20 Apr 2021

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The debut novel from acclaimed Hollywood screenwriter Will Staples.

“This is more than a story about the fate of wildlife—it’s a story about the fate of the earth. As an animal lover, I highly recommend this book.”

— Arnold Schwarzenegger

When rhino poachers kill two of his fellow rangers in Kruger Park, South African Defense Force veteran Cobus Venter reaches his breaking point. Quitting his job, he embarks on a vigilante mission to take down the animal-trafficking syndicate from the inside. Meanwhile, in Florida, insurance investigator Randall Knight is called to a private roadside zoo, where a new tiger cub of suspect lineage brought a virus that wiped out all the zoo’s tigers. The disease is just one species jump away from erupting into a deadly global human pandemic. What starts as a simple insurance claim leads Knight to discover a shocking new evolution in the business of illicit animal trafficking. Both men’s journeys take them from the darkest corners of Southeast Asia to the VIP gambling rooms of Macau, where they must stay alive long enough to stop a vicious international triad from ending wildlife as we know it.

Animals is set in the world of global animal trafficking and follows converging story lines into a dark maze of corruption and organized crime, and through the journeys of the main characters, the novel explores the factors driving the exploitation and ruin of the natural world.

Though the story is fiction, the characters, locations, and plot points are almost entirely rooted in fact. They are the product of hundreds of conversations with everyone from Jane Goodall to the CIA, to Damien Mander (an ex-mercenary turned animal activist). To experience the issue firsthand, Will Staples took a month-long research trip spanning three continents and seven countries. The journey was a profoundly transformative, life-altering experience.

The author’s goal with this novel is to expose this issue to as many people as possible. To that end, all his income from this book will be donated to nonprofit organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife.

The debut novel from acclaimed Hollywood screenwriter Will Staples.

“This is more than a story about the fate of wildlife—it’s a story about the fate of the earth. As an animal lover, I highly...

Advance Praise

“This is more than a story about the fate of wildlife—it’s a story about the fate of the earth. As an animal lover, I highly recommend this book.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Will Staples is passionate about wildlife and conservation. Although this book is a fictitious story it is based on sound research and a real understanding of the issues discussed. Animals will help people realize the horrors of global wildlife trafficking—the cruelty, the corruption, and, as we now know from COVID-19, the risk it poses to human health. Thank you, Will, for writing this.”

-Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace,

“Will Staples deftly weaves his complex characters into a haunting thriller set in the underworld of animal trafficking and the result is a profound book that leaves the reader yearning to take action. What better compliment can one pay a novel than it moves your soul?”

-Tony Camerino, author of How to Break a Terrorist and Kill or Capture

“Screenwriter Staples…makes the tragedy of animal trafficking vivid in his impressive debut…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.”

-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Screenwriter Staples’s first novel provides a kaleidoscopic view of the horrors of African poaching…From the beginning…he excels in creating scene after scene of uncompromising cruelty and sadness. Above all, Staples brings out the beasts in his human cast.”

-Kirkus Reviews

“Animals is a thrilling, visceral tale…This tightly plotted, fast-paced novel is a timely warning of the moral and physical jeopardy that ultimate loss of this war presents to ‘humanity.’”

-Harry Farthing, author of The Ghost Moths

“Animals is an evocatively written, high-stakes morality tale on the trafficking of exotic wildlife by gangsters, terrorists, and opportunists. Will Staples has given us a fast-moving, twenty-first century glimpse at a voracious underworld whose greed and hubris are threatening the majesty of nature. This novel is a call to action.”

-Jeffrey Fleishman, author of Last Dance and My Detective

“A savage, heartbreaking, and breathtakingly beautiful work that is as thrilling as it is important. Deeply researched and masterfully crafted…This is a book that will sweep you up and hold you within its pages until it is done with you.”

-Peter Houlahan, author of Norco ’80

“Animals is a thrilling and cinematic exploration of the animal trafficking underworld and its surprisingly far-reaching consequences. Staples expertly weaves together memorable characters from every corner of the globe, whose storylines braid together into a tense page-turner.”

-Nicole Perlman, cowriter of Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel

“Staples’ gutsy in-the-field research shapes this webby ecothriller and its intriguing characters gone rogue in pursuit of justice…With hard-edge cinematic action and psychological depth…Staples’s gripping and awakening tale should have a resounding impact.”


“Animals is one of the most eye-opening books I have read in years…Staples writes a thriller that is both fascinating and educational…It is a book that shows the worst of humanity, as well as giving us hope that there are those out there who are doing all they can on behalf of the animal kingdom. This is an important book that we all need to read.”

-Mystery & Suspense

“One of the most confident and well-written debuts I’ve read in some time…told with a skill, authenticity, and heart exceedingly rare in new authors. Illuminating, haunting, and thrilling, anyone even remotely interested should give Animals a read…Highly recommended.”

-Strand Magazine

“This is more than a story about the fate of wildlife—it’s a story about the fate of the earth. As an animal lover, I highly recommend this book.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Will Staples is passionate...

Available Editions

EDITION Audiobook, Unabridged
ISBN 9781094065465
DURATION 7 Hours, 59 Minutes

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (AUDIO)

Average rating from 5 members

Featured Reviews

Animals by Will Staples Narrated by Dion Graham Blackstone Audiobooks This book is based on extensive research by the author. The proceeds from this book will be going to help fight animal poaching and smuggling. I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for letting me listen to this book. The details and research that went into this book is really telling. There are things in here I never would have guessed was going on. I am not naive when it comes to animal smuggling and animal rights. I have tried to stay abreast of the news and laws but these things are so far behind the's a wonder the author didn't get shot trying to find this information out. This is a scary world but unfortunately it seems to be profitable for some. In this book, the author takes two fictional characters and on separate tracks, leads them through the maze of poaching and smuggling. Both want to end this. The book is full of suspense and heartache. Corruption in all agencies at all levels. It seems money can buy just about everything and anybody. I hope a million people read this and each of them get 10 people to read it. This is something that needs spread world wide!

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A story that had me in tears, so much brutality and waste of life, so senseless. The more you know about what is happening the more you want to do something, it is such a helpless feeling. Poor people who kill animals to feed their family, and why do the animals have to die, for their horns, feet, disgusting and so the men in charge get richer. When you think of the horns of a rhinoceros is really like toenails, and people believe they cure cancer? I know different cultures have different beliefs, but this is bad. I am so glad that the author is bringing awareness with this book, and he is donating the proceeds to help fight and bringing this issue to the forefront. This is a fictional read, that is filled with facts, with the hope of bringing awareness! I received this book through Net Galley and Blackstone Publishing, and was not required to give a positive review.

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This is the world of endangered animal poaching. It’s a terrible world, and haunting. And in this world insurance investigatior Randall Knight and Kruger National Park ranger Cobus Venter converge. Full review on Murder in Common:

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Animals excels at showing the horrors of animal trafficking, including its cascading effects on society with issues such as the drug trade and funding for terrorism. Will Staples did extensive research for this book, and it absolutely shows in his writing. This is action/adventure with striking realism. The story is plot-driven, with a wide variety of characters. I normally prefer character-driven stories, but here the animals’ plight is the focus, and it works perfectly. The content made me incredibly sad, which it should, but wow, humans, get it together already. The destruction we leave in our wake is horrifying. I listened to this on audio, and the narrator works magic in his ability to not only capture each character’s personality, but also in mastering the wide variety of accents. I was totally invested.

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