Border Prey by Jessica Speart

948225Fiction — print. Avon Books, 2000. 282 pgs. Received from PaperBackSwap.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent Rachel Porter has been reassigned to El Paso, Texas, home to game ranches that provide rare antelopes, Indian deer, and African oryx for the rich to hunt. Agent Porter has a tip that one of these ranches, the Happy Hunting Ranch, is hiding primates somewhere on their grounds before smuggling the animals over the Mexican border.

But the “reformed” smuggler who passed along the tip is found murdered minutes before Rachel can gleam any more information, and mysterious man comes gunning for her after she unearths information that these chimps are being used for a far more nefarious purpose than exotic target practice.

The cover of this book is misleading; I picked it up thinking that the book would resolve around coyotes and other southwestern animals, possibly set in the desert landscape of Arizona Her descriptions of the Happy Hunting Ranch and its surrounding landscape conjured up images of Texas Hill Country, which is definitely not where the story is set. Even so, Speart’s description of El Paso almost makes me feel guilty for not spending more time in the city whilst driving through on my cross-country move. It sounds positively eccentric.

And who knew being a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent could be so interesting? Adventurous? I was really intrigued by Porter’s job, how she navigated the line between cop and wildlife advocate. That said, this particular mystery required some suspended disbelief as (spoiler alert!) the illegal killing of primates is much more plausible than cloning and genetic engineering.

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