Genre: nonfiction short fiction
Length: 29 pages
Setting: South Africa, present day
Interest: I was given a review copy of the story by the publisher (but the opinions provided are my own). I requested the review copy because I am a big fan of science nonfiction.
Summary: Justin Fox went to meet Quinton Martins in the hopes of catching sight of a Cape Mountain leopard. The Cape Mountain leopards are a small population of leopards still in existence in South Africa mainly because the habitat they live in is so remote and difficult to access. That makes tracking, tagging, and researching the leopards very difficult, as Justin found out as he followed Quinton around in the mountains looking for a leopard.
Final thoughts: I’ve never read a nonfiction short “story” before (I’m not even sure what it would be called – husband has suggested essay?) but I enjoyed it. In fact, I was disappointed it was over so quickly. I wanted even more details and a final resolution to the story. However, it’s not the author’s fault there wasn’t a neat bow to wrap up on the research since it’s an ongoing research project. I was definitely intrigued by the search for the leopards, and, having done some field work in my day, I appreciated the demonstration of difficulties that can arise while trying to collect data from living creatures.
I really enjoyed Fox’s writing. He was able to put you in the moment with his descriptions. For example, “[t]he vehicle bounced over boulders like an inebriated frog” (p. 9) or “[a] leopard could have been standing six feet away and I’d have dismissed it as retina malfunction” (p. 21). Like I said, my only complaint was I wanted more. If you like nonfiction and are willing to try something a little shorter than usual, I highly recommend this story.
Title comes from: A play on words since the author went out to find spotted leopards but was ultimately unsuccessful.
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