When Mabel Meade, a retired small town English librarian, joins an African Overland bus trip she is looking for adventure.
But she has no idea that the adventure will involve her sharing an uncomfortable, geriatric and over-crowded truck with a group of extremely incompatible fellow tourists (including meteorite smugglers, drug abusers, racists, left wing idealists, vegetarians who won’t eat the food, tedious bores, and, but of course, a pregnant woman who is constantly in jeopardy).
Mabel almost immediately encounters violence and evil omens and then comes the accidental discovery of a mummified Bushman – unearthed by a sand storm in the Namib desert – with a gut full of smuggled diamonds worth a fortune.
And that’s just the beginning.
As Esmerelda, the decrepit Overland truck, groans her way through the Namibian badlands and then through Botswana bound for Zimbabwe things just get worse.
As each new challenge and catastrophe arises Mabel is the one with the answers. Most solutions seem right at the time but more often than not spur further disasters.
Tension between the “tourists” inside Esmerelda mounts. The body count rises.
When the “Cursed Safari” as the Media has dubbed it, enters Zimbabwe, the body count rockets.
To a background of massive civil unrest, White-owned farm invasions, shanty town clearances by Mugabe’s tottering dictatorship, and para-military brutality Esmerelda’s passengers attempt an escape to Zambia to sell the diamonds and split the change.
Apart from the ones who have decided not to share. They put their own plans into action. So do other parties who have become involved.
Despite her age, her trials and frequent errors, it is Mabel who ultimately saves the day and ensures that the few Overlanders who survive their African vacation will be able to spend the rest of their lives on vacation.
Somewhere a bit more relaxing. And with a lot less witches, burning elephants, civil war, haunted caves, exploding hospitals and insane one-eyed snipers.
Mabel puts her success down to many long years of employment maintaining discipline and good clean fun in her Framley Library’s Children’s Corner
Hugh Paxton’s Blog urges somebody (anybody!) to buy the damn book! It took me a year to write it! And you’ll enjoy it. Trust me.