The Leopard Hunts in Darkness


366 pages
ISBN 0-7737-2022-7






Reviewed by Les Harding

Les Harding is author of The Voyages of Lesser Men: Thumbnail Sketches
in Canadian Exploration.


The Leopard Hunts in Darkness, Wilbur Smith’s seventeenth novel, is as usual, set in Africa.

Craig Mellow, a bored young author, has lost his inspiration and his reason for living. He longs to flee the literary rat-race of New York and return to the wide open spaces of Zimbabwe, a land his family had farmed for more than a century. Offered a chance to return to his homeland on a secret mission for the World Bank to expose ivory poachers, he accepts. He finds the family estate in ruins and determines to restore it. In the process he becomes involved with Sally-Anne Jay, a beautiful American photographer, who, conveniently for the plot, can fly anything with wings and rotors. Craig and Sally-Anne get caught up in the web of a fanatic, bloody tribal hatreds, a Russian plot, and the search for a fabulous treasure.

The story opens with the description of an appalling slaughter of an elephant herd by a gang of poachers. The pace does not let up from then on. The violence is very graphic and might upset some readers, but the good guys win in the end. The local African colour is very convincing. The dialogue is often wooden and stilted, but there is so much action going on that the reader doesn’t even care. Mr. Smith has written another crackling good thriller.


Smith, Wilbur, “The Leopard Hunts in Darkness,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,