Blood of the Dragon Trees is the first Nik Morton novel I’ve read. Based on this one, I can’t wait to read the other mystery/thrillers he has available. Set in Tenerife, a place I have visited several times, I hoped the author would be able to recreate the setting without giving it the feel of a travelogue. I needn’t have worried. His clear knowledge of the place enables him to put the reader on the island without overdoing the settings in the slightest.
The novel follows the story of Laura Reid, who has come to Tenerife to teach the children of widower and plantation owner, Don Alonso, but gradually (against her better judgement) gets involved with Andrew Kirby and Jalbala Emcheta, who work for CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna). They are on the hunt for illegal traders in endangered species. The criminal gang, run by the mysterious El Jefe, are not just trading animal parts, but also human beings in a people trafficking ring.
Complications arise as Laura develops feeling for Don Alonso’s brother, Felipe, whose past relationship with Andrew is based on distrust.
The action is fast paced and the romantic elements don’t slow this down, rather they add another layer to the intrigue. For those who like to try to guess who the bad people are while reading (like me) there are plenty of artfully placed clues and misdirection, which only become obvious towards the end of the novel.
The crimes are appalling, the characters well drawn and credible, and the settings superb. What more can I add, except this: go and buy a copy. You won’t regret it.