The Bone Farm – Andrew Jackson
A man on the edge. A woman on a mission.
A species on the edge of extinction.
“From Northern Ireland to Africa via China a gruesome trade where life is cheap and profit is everything.”
“Filled with action, emotion and danger.”
Organised criminals are smuggling tiger bone out of China to feed an insatiable black market. They will stop at nothing to dominate a growing trade where profit margins dwarf those of narcotics, with little penalty. They have only one problem – they can’t get enough of it.
Following the murder of his friend, former soldier Daniel Harpur is on the warpath. A small bag of white powder and a Chinese gangster with a dragon tattoo are his only leads. He has vowed revenge, but first he must overcome his own personal demons.
The Wildlife Investigation Agency, charged with protecting endangered animals and their habitats, are on the trail of an infamous poacher who is decimating the wild tiger population. But red tape and bureaucracy thwart their every move.
Both Harpur and the WIA want justice. Just in different ways…
“Fast paced & gripping with a shocking subject matter. Andrew Jackson’s writing is fast, fluid and action packed. He seems to have a skill at building and establishing his characters quickly, ensuring the reader gets immediately hooked on this book.”
About the Author
Andrew Jackson writes gritty crime/action and adventure novels. He uses exciting and engaging characters, along with a fast moving plot, to grip the reader from the beginning to the end of the book. He is an avid reader and conservationist, hence the creation of the Dan Harpur series which tackles the epidemic in wildlife crime worldwide.
“Andrew Jackson builds believable and engaging main characters in a well rounded and easily accessible story. The subject of illegal animal trading was a shocking eye opener and something which you are left feeling isn’t discussed enough in society.”
The weather in London was cold, grey and dismal in comparison to the warm Indian climate Heather had only just returned from. As she looked out of the window from her small dingy office at the WIA Headquarters, she felt that it matched her mood well.
On her return from the Panna Tiger Reserve, having spectacularly failed in her bid to capture Kojo Selassie, she had been greeted with paperwork and bills demanding eye watering amounts of money for equipment and services used in her expedition. No commiserations from her authorities or encouragement to try again. Only grim faces and complaints. The head of the WIA, Peter Blackthorn, summed it up when he called her in for a debriefing.
“We had a lot riding on your endeavours, Heather. Perhaps I didn’t emphasise the importance, or maybe I should have sent someone else instead? Not only did you allow Selassie to escape, but you allowed him to escape with one of the last breeding females on the reserve and her cubs! It’s been a calamity, Heather. Too risky from the very beginning. I should never have let you talk me into it in the first place.”
“That’s unfair, Peter! You said it yourself. The only way to stop the poachers is to follow the chain to the top. To the dealers! Selassie and whoever he works with are the ones we were after. We agreed that a tiger must be sacrificed in order to follow it, did we not?”
“We did. But you’ve lost that tiger, Heather! It’s been two days now and we’ve heard nothing.”
“We’re so restricted, Peter! I had to play everything by the book and my hands were tied. What we need to fight these people is free rein and a strong arm internationally. Selassie is greasing the palms of officials all over Africa and Asia, and crossing borders at will. Following that tiger out of Indian jurisdiction and into Nepal, Bhutan or China, or possibly all bloody three would have been a nightmare!”
“Which is precisely why we needed to catch him in India! Get back to your office and compile a report on the matter. I have to apply for more funding in the near future, and God only knows, without results the Wildlife Investigation Agency itself could become as endangered as the animals we’re trying to protect! We rely on charity, Heather. A high profile arrest such as Selassie would have produced interest and funding from all angles. But now… well…”
“I was close, Peter. It boiled down to a matter of luck. We also rely on good luck and sparse information from oppressed and frightened people. If we had some muscle! Some way of fighting these criminals that would hit them hard!”
“Look, your efforts are appreciated, but we have few enough resources and manpower as it is. We operate within the law. We’re not mercenaries. Anyway, there are perhaps more manageable projects we could look at – African elephants, illegal logging in the Amazon, plastic in the oceans. A depressingly endless list.”
“But, Peter, we’re so close to catching Selassie! Just give me a little longer…”
He lifted his phone to make a call and waved her away. Heather left his office deflated and frustrated. She racked her brains for any other way she could have played it, but it always boiled down to the same thing. Luck.
If she had had her way, Heather would have marched into the village of the poachers and knocked some heads together. She would have locked them up and beat them until the whereabouts of Selassie and the tiger had been told.
Every single person in the village to which they had tracked the trail had remained silent. The rangers knew who the poachers were, and the poachers knew Selassie. It wasn’t rocket science, but all were so infuriatingly intertwined and the area so vast and isolated, that it made life very difficult indeed. Within minutes of arriving in the village, the tiger, if it was one, must have been whisked away in the back of a vehicle to join the scores of others heading for China. The trail had gone cold just like that. Needles and haystacks sprang to mind.
She averted her gaze from the window and back to the papers, as the phone on her desk began to ring.
“Hello. Wildlife Investigation Agency. Heather Walsh speaking.”
“Hello. I’d like to speak to someone about tigers?”
Thinking it a prank from someone in the building, at her expense, Heather wasn’t amused.
“Is this a joke? I really don’t have time for this…”
“My name is Daniel Harpur. I found your details on the internet. I believe you head up investigations into endangered tigers in Asia and their sale on the black market? I have information that could be of use to you. But it’s a two way thing. I want information in return.”
“What information do you have, Mr Harpur?”
“Three Chinese gangsters killed my friend, over a tiny bag of tiger bone in Laohu’s Traditional Chinese Medicine Shop in Belfast. I found the men at Carter International Logistics Headquarters in Belfast Harbour. You’ll not be surprised to hear that we don’t have tigers in Northern Ireland, so I’m guessing it was shipped into there from somewhere else.”
“Are you a police officer?”
“No. They don’t seem to be very interested in this case.”
“There’s not a lot of solid information there, Mr Harpur, but I can look into it. With regards to exchanging information… well… it really would need to be first class intelligence for anything like that to happen.”
“I understand… what if I could find out more? What exactly is it that you need to make it first class information?”
“I need to know what quantities are involved. Criminals move tiger bone all over the world, as powder, in wine, meat for restaurants, decoration. You may have just stumbled across the end product. To be honest, I need the supplier, not the street dealer or the user, and I need to trace the powder back to wherever it originated so I can try to stop it. Look, Mr Harpur, dangerous criminals are involved in this business. It is mostly the Chinese who demand these products, so the triads will be heavily involved. They are well organised and very dangerous. You should leave any investigations to your local authorities.”
“They don’t want to know. It’s been six months since my friend was murdered and the police are no further on in their investigation. His killer is still walking free.”
“You said you wanted to know more. What is it you need to know?”
“Thoroughly enlightening story of savagery, greed, revenge, misery, and helplessness through the eyes of some very well defined and developed characters.”