Peter Riva

Kidnapped on Safari: A Thriller

Simply put -- I love this book!

Kidnapped on Safara by Peter Riva has so many things going for it. First, it is set in Africa. And I love books about Africa. Then it starts with a map. I love books that start with maps. And then, joy of joys, bwana is used in conversation.

Before I talk about the characters and the story, I want to take a moment to compliment the publishers on the production value of the book. The paper, the typography, the size -- it is all perfect. People get so used to reading on Kindle that they sometimes forget the pure joy of holding a truly lovely book in their hands. Bravo, Yucca Publishing.

Now, to the story. When you use the word 'thriller' under the title, you really have to deliver. And Peter Riva does just that! I don't bite my nails -- but...well, what can I say? I sure felt like it. I did bite my knuckles when, early in the book Mary, one of the main characters in the story, stepped into the water off Crocodile Island in Northern Kenya, East Africa. Really, Peter, you know how to scare a gal...

Which brings me to the characters. The two main stars of the book -- and I mean stars, because as I was reading this book it was a streaming video in my head -- are:

Mbuno (em-buno), an expert safari guide
Pero Baltazar, a wildlife television producer

In this third book in the series Mbuno/Pero are caught up in a well plotted and suspenseful plot involving a mysterious group that has kidnapped Mbuno's adopted son, Ube.

This is where the rest of Pero's team comes in. We've already met Mary, the "Crocodile Lady", and on-air star of Pero's wildlife documentaries. She's married to Bill "Heep" Heep, the director and videographer.  Then there is Pero's wife, Susanna. You have to love a woman who playfully calls her husband dummer Mann.

Which brings me to the use of Swali and German phrases. It is a compliment to the reader that the author doesn't 'dumb' down his writing and not use foreign phrases. In Charlotte Brontë's The Professor, she liberally uses French. It gives a flavor to the writing. Learning even a few new words or phrases is one of the joys of reading. My favorite new phrase: kijinga mtu. (Read the book, it is on p. 59.) I'm sure I will find a use for it.

I could write about the various elements of the plot. Just believe me there are twists and turns that will keep you glued to your seat, including a delightful old-fashioned one. There is plenty of action. There are times when you will hold your breath and times when you will sigh in relief. It is, quite simply put, a great read. You will be reminded of Hemingway and for a little while you will enjoy being on this adventure in Africa. Peter knows his characters and Africa so well that this is truly an immersive experience. By the way, I keep thinking of him as Pero, because surely there is a lot of Pero in Peter. I like them both.

“A gripping tale! Here is the East Africa I know so well after 40 years of filming there.” —Bertram van Munster, Co-Creator & Producer, The Amazing Race on CBS TV

This interview will always be one my favorites. It was so much fun to talk to Peter about this book and about his exciting and diverse life. Not only is he a brilliant author, he is a literary agent -- and everyone loves a literary agent. In this interview we talk about how he discovered Stieg Larsson, the author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The prequel...get to know Mbuno...

Read this book, too, will become a fan of Mbuno.



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About the Author

Peter Riva is multi-talented. He started off as a pure math major, went on to UCLA Film School and later became an Apprentice at BBC. He has spent "a ton of time" in East Africa and more in North and Central Africa where he has produced almost a hundred hours of prime-time wildlife television programming.

He comes from a remarkable family of achievers. Born in New York City, he has also lived in London, and Switzerland. He now lives in Gila, New Mexico.

For me it was a thrill to talk to the grandson of Marlene Dietrich, who my father saw when she was touring with the USO.  That was during the period around the Battle of the Bulge and she was incredibly brave to go so close to the front to support our troops. The awful winter of December 1944 was terribly cold and our soldiers were facing a half million German soldiers. My father's feet froze and for the rest of his life they would hurt. There were few good memories of that time -- but the one bright 'star' was seeing Marlene Dietrich. It was just an impromptu event -- she stood on a wooden box and didn't have time to slip into one of her famous sequined gowns. She was wearing fatigues, but my Dad remembered that her hair was beautiful and she wore bright red lipstick. He never forgot that vision. Whenever one of her movies came on television we would watch, because we knew it was one of the only times he ever talked about World War II.

Marlene Dietrich was a real American hero.

Peter's mother, Maria Riva, is also a remarkable woman. As beautiful as her mother, she became a popular television actress during the 1950's. In a January 1953 issue of Motion Picture Daily, she was named as one of 'Television's Best of 1952' alongside fellow television stars such as  Sid Caesar, Lucille Ball, Dinah Shore and many others.

She wrote a definitive book about her mother.

Visit Peter's Website...

Peter has a great website, which includes a promo video
for Kidnapped on Safari.
You can also discover his Sci-Fi books....


Read this series...

You can start with Kidnapped on Safari (Book 3 in this wonderful series), but I'm sure you will want to go back to the beginning with Murder on Safari (Book 2). It introduces readers to Mbuno/Pero -- and starts building the relationships between the characters.. The Berlin Package (Book 2) takes place mostly out of Africa, but highlights the Mbuno's bush talents to solve a mystery.

Kidnapped in Africa

Murder on Safari : A Thriller

Berlin Package : A Thriller

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