A young researcher travels with her best friend to the Ovahimba territory in Namibia, Africa, to write a book on one of the last remaining indigenous tribes of the Black Continent. However, what starts as a scientific expedition turns into the adventure of a lifetime for the two young women. How could they have guessed that they would run into diamond smugglers, embark on a treasure hunt, and even find love in the remote jungle? Kidnapped, they find themselves on the eerie and inhospitable Skeleton Coast. Their situation seems almost hopeless, but the pair realise that true friendship may be their greatest treasure
Author: Heather O. Lance
Illustration: fotolia.com/Jean Dydewalle
ca. 212 Pages
Africa expedition of two friends. An English lord on a treasure hunt and a local resident guide accompany the two women. Romantic entanglements develop between the two couples; however, they do not end in a love scene.
Africa: Namibia (Ovahimba territory as well as the Kaokoveld and Lake Otjikoto); Germany: Munich
6 male and 2 female roles
Female main character 1 – Professor
Dr. Patricia Johnson, lovingly called Patty by her best friend Charlotte; successful young lecturer in African Studies at Munich University; travels to the Ovahimba territory in Namibia as part of a research project to research her first book on the Kaokoveld: very intelligent, but an extremely introverted woman; has had bad experiences with men and is therefore unsure in her dealings with them; she finds it very hard to build trust in the opposite sex; often feels ugly and clumsy compared to her best and very attractive friend; against all odds finds the gruff, unfriendly Edward attractive but does not think she stands a chance; not yet ready for a new relationship; there is a confrontation between her and Charlotte because of him as a result of misunderstanding; but their friendship is so strong that they are reconciled after a short time.
Female main character 2 – Photographer
Charlotte Smith, nickname Charly; has known Patricia since their university days; an extremely beautiful, confident woman and very successful when it comes to men; the exact opposite of her best friend Patricia; does not need to work since her family is wealthy; wastes her talent as a photographer; only travels to Africa because she is asked to do the photographs for Patricia's book; must first get used to life in Africa; still succeeds in looking like a model of a fashion magazine and turning the heads of all the men even in the wilderness; she meets Lord James Sullivan, who immediately falls in love with her at the airport before leaving Munich; also feels attracted to him, although the blue-blooded Englishman isn’t really her type; the ending hints at a future for the romance between the two.
The two friends' favourite coffee shop
Café Lavazzo, coffee shop regularly visited by the two friends (with outside patio area and sun umbrellas).
Male supporting character 1 – German-speaking guide
Edward White, unapproachable, brusque leader of the Africa expedition; loves Africa and the feeling of freedom; tall and bulky; deep, rough voice; longish, somewhat unkempt hair; weather-beaten face; some animalistic traits, partly strong masculine self-awareness; the only one immune to Charlotte's physical attributes; has spent time in jail for smuggling; works together with the Angolan police – which he does not reveal to the two women; has fallen in love with Patricia and tries to get close to her in a romantic scene involving the two of them but does not get far as a result of her bad experience; rescues the two women from the clutches of unscrupulous diamond smugglers; at a party after their return home, Patricia hints that she might possibly go on another expedition with Edward.
Male supporting character 2 – English treasure hunter
James Sullivan, English Lord; fulfils every cliché of the charming colonial gentleman: well mannered, good looking, slim body; very fine facial features; marble white skin; smokes; daydreamer; is on a treasure hunt in Namibia on his last adventure before he has to take over his father’s legal practice; originally employed Edward White for himself alone; accidentally overhears that Patricia and Charlotte have been let down by their hired guide; spontaneously asks the two women to join his expedition; is already flirting with Charlotte at the airport and gets closer to her during the expedition (they kiss at the campfire).
August, charming, local guide, half Ovahimba, half American; is hired by Edward for the two women as an insider to the Ovahimba culture; accompanies them to the Kunene River because he is familiar with the area; speaks perfect English; very small part
Spanish diamond smuggler
Miguel Santiago, half-brother of Frank Santiago; Spaniard; but also speaks Afrikaans, English and German well; is of slight build; black hair; dark skin; oval attractive face; narrow, cold anthracite-coloured eyes; brutal and cold-blooded diamond smuggler; is a sleazy macho creep and abducts Patricia and Charlotte to the Skeleton Coast when they stumble in on one of his deals; is arrested at the end.
The diamond smuggler’s half-brother and helper
Frank Santiago, Miguel's half-brother; speaks broken Afrikaans and German; a man of sturdy build; referred to as ‘the giant’; belongs to the Herero tribe on his mother’s side and calls himself ‘Hosea’ by his Herero name; good-natured and less unscrupulous than his brother; treated badly by Miguel Santiago and must do all his dirty work for him; Charlotte easily manages to win him over and is not sorry at the end when he avoids arrest and is able to flee.
Ex-boyfriend of the photographer
Walter, Charlotte’s ex-boyfriend, whom she has just left because the relationship was not a happy one and he was unfaithful to her; only referred to briefly
Extract“I think we need to fill up with petrol quite urgently,” announced Charlotte and jumped out of the Jeep. Patricia, who was busy helping Edward unload the luggage from the back of the car, had to admit that Charlotte’s beauty was not dependant on her usual, impeccable appearance. Her blonde hair surrounded her head like a wild halo; her eyes glistened fire. Patricia took a thick strand of her own brown hair involuntarily between her thumb and forefinger and looked at it dolefully.
“Tomorrow we’ll be in Uis. I also recommend a different driving style,” growled Edward. “James, will you take care of the wood for our fire?”
“Campfire?” called Charlotte and came closer, though not close enough to get seriously involved in any work. Her own crankiness scared her. She smiled at her friend as if she wanted to compensate for her unfriendly thoughts,
“I had no idea that you were such an ace driver.”
Charlotte sat on a suitcase and ignored the comment.
“Then you should see my brother. We used to race together. He really drives like the devil.”
“I say, what do you think about actually helping out around here?” Edward’s voice was laced with suppressed anger.
Charlotte looked at him with an angelic smile. “And what should I do? I’m prepared to do anything.”
Edward seemed to be mentally running through a few unpleasant tasks but finally he said, “Go help James, okay? Just make yourself useful.”
Charlotte stood up elegantly, smoothed the creases out of her perfectly draped, wide trousers, grinned conspiringly at her friend and disappeared in the same direction as James. Patricia watched her go.
“A pretty spot,” she said softly.
Edward paused. He seemed surprised.
“Yes,” he said, “I like it here.”
The campsite that he’d chosen for them was on the edge of a dried-up riverbed which, during the rainy season, would fill up again. Some camel thorn trees formed a natural fence, throwing their shadows across the dry earth in the evening dusk. Patricia let her hand run over the red wood. It felt rough and warm under her fingers.
”Be careful, it’s not called camel thorn tree for nothing.”
She laughed. “I know. I can remember some of the things I’ve been devouring in all those books; they all have stuck. But now everything is real. It’s still like a dream to me. What’s it like living here?”
“Truthfully,” Edward said thoughtfully, “The dreams fade after a while.”
“Why do you stay then?”
The sun shone on his face and gave his tanned skin a slightly coppery hue. Everything about him appeared angular and hard, even the wrinkles on his face seemed chiselled.
“What would I do anywhere else? I’ve built up a life here. And that life hasn’t paid me back everything that it owes me.”
For a moment, he looked straight into her eyes and, for a couple of heartbeats, the only things that existed were his brown eyes. Then abruptly, he turned away. Patricia took a deep breath.
Suddenly, she became aware of James and Charlotte’s voices next to her. Patricia asked herself briefly how long they had been standing there. She touched her friend on the arm unobtrusively.
“Charly, I have something to tell you.”
“About…?” Charlotte quickly glanced at Edward. Patricia nodded.
“Okay, then I would suggest that we voluntarily take over the dishwashing later. I have neither the desire nor the talent for cooking.”
“Maybe you can find a pizza service that will deliver out here,” suggested Patricia with a giggle.
She lifted an imaginary telephone receiver to her ear. “Hello, is that Joey’s? Could you deliver a Pizza Funghi to the third camel thorn tree on the left? Thirty minutes? Thank you.”
“Or we could get a tame lion to bring us a fresh antelope steak,” grinned Charlotte. “We’ll give our dear Edward to it in exchange.”
“No way!” Patricia lowered her voice to a whisper. “He’s armed.”
“Yes. Maybe it’s completely harmless but… Psst! James…”
Sure enough, the young Englishman had approached them unremarkably. He gave them a bemused smile. “Am I interrupting?”
“Not if you’re bringing something to eat.”
“Oh, what do I get if I tell you where you can get something?”
His eyes caressed Charlotte’s slender body. Her lips parted in a smile.
“Ask me again later at the campfire. It always makes me sentimental.”
“I’ll get back to you on that,” he promised, “but first I must keep up my end of the bargain. Just keep moving towards the light of the fire.”
“That is surely worth an instalment.” Charlotte put her hand on James’s shoulder and blew a soft kiss onto the corner of his mouth. For a moment he froze, his eyes were large and enquiring. Then he turned round and disappeared into the dusk without saying a word. “I have no idea why I did that,” Charlotte said finally and breathed deeply. The light of the fire danced restlessly in her eyes.
“Are you in love?”
“That’s silly. I like him, but he isn’t my type. When I’m hungry, I can’t think about love. Let’s go eat.”
The two friends had to do without campfire romance, just like they had to do without anything that tasted even rudimentarily like culinary talent. It didn’t appear to bother either Edward or James that their meal consisted solely of tinned food.
“And I thought that the modern man enjoyed cooking,” sighed Charlotte and chased a few indefinable pieces of meat with her fork, their only advantage being that one couldn’t really identify them in the dusk.
“True, but look at the two of them. Which one of them do you consider a representative of this new generation? Ashley Wilkes or the Neanderthal?” asked Patricia dryly. “Would you like a beer?”
Charlotte nodded and pushed her plate aside. James hadn’t exaggerated when he’d said that the wood of the camel thorn tree was ideal for a campfire. The flames crackled and snapped furtively. From all sides you could hear the soft singing and chirping of the cicadas. Patricia returned with two bottles of beer and a sleeping mat, which she rolled out on the ground. They sat next to each other in silence.
“What’s James doing over there?”
“Writing in his travel diary. He told me about it in the car.”
“I should also start making notes for myself,” said Patricia without moving. Her eyes were trying to pierce the darkness that now surrounded them. It was unbelievably black. It was only the fire and the stars that gave light.
“It’s almost unreal,” said Charlotte quietly, as though she’d read her friend’s thoughts. “In Egypt, Walter and I also went out into the desert but we never lost sight of the city skyline. Civilisation was always present. Here, too, I know that tomorrow we will arrive at a town but even so, I feel as though I’ve arrived at the loneliest place on earth.”
“I know what you mean. It’s more than unreal. I feel small out here. I keep thinking about Edward who told me that there were lions roaming around and I feel the need to apologise for being here. We are the intruders.”
“Lions,” Charlotte repeated weakly. “Well, great. Maybe it’s a good thing after all that he’s armed. What did you actually want to tell me?”
“Oh, that…” Patricia looked around carefully but Edward was nowhere to be seen. She imagined that he was lurking like a ghost from an old legend and was invisible somewhere in the stillness. She had chased the thought away before a shiver ran down her spine.
“I saw his weapon…”
“How should I know? A revolver or something like that: anyway, a heavy thing. There were also some fairly official documents and at least one of them originated in Angola.”
“What do you think this means – that he’s some kind of James Bond?”
“Okay, you’re right. What else then? Could they be fake papers that make it easier for him to get smuggled goods across the border?”
“I have no idea!”
“And this treasure hunt with James is just camouflage! I’ve been wondering for the whole time why the entire expedition doesn’t travel together.“
“He said that he didn’t like mass gatherings.”
“Of course not!” Charlotte’s eyes sparkled. “That would mean the danger of the whole thing being uncovered is much greater. Here’s the plan: you must try to find out what these documents contain.”
“And how am I supposed to do that?”
“No idea, but you’ll think of something. I would travel with him but then you two, you and James, would probably get stuck somewhere…”
“Don’t exaggerate,” said Patricia uncertainly. “Alright, I’ll see what I can do. But remember, I’m a researcher…”
“And Miss Marple is a dear old lady. No excuses, Patty. If this Edward is really a criminal, we will unmask him. Oh my God, were there footsteps?”
Patricia shook off her friend’s hand unwillingly. “Charly, you’re going to drive me crazy! We should stop these ghost stories. Of course there weren’t any footsteps, it was only...” She laughed quietly. “It was only a monkey, I think. Look, there!”
She pointed to a small, furry figure that was just recognisable in the reflection of the fire. The big black eyes looked at the two women inquisitively as the animal remained sitting some distance away.
“How cute. We need something to feed it,” called out Charlotte and reached for her empty plate. A stone flew through the air at that precise moment. Sand sprayed up and the monkey fled with a shrill scream. Charlotte turned around and looked angrily into Edward’s hard, expressionless face. She thought that she should be worried about how much of their conversation he’d heard. Instead, her outrage controlled her.
“You brut!” she yelled. “How dare you throw stones at the poor, little animal! You could have hurt it.”
“These monkeys are damned little thieves that shouldn’t be in the camp, especially not when there are two sentimental city dwellers sitting there with nothing better to do than to attract these ‘oh so cute’ animals. Do you have any idea of the diseases they can transmit?”
“I’ve been vaccinated!”
Frequency of appearance
We have summarised all personalisation options for this book here. We also listed the Frequency of appearance for the respective details. You do not need to fill in all options – you can also use the defaults.
|Female main character 1 – Professor|
|The lecturer’s first name (female) is||679 x|
|The lecturer’s surname (female) is||19 x|
|The lecturer’s hair colour is||4 x|
|The lecturer’s nickname (female) is||47 x|
|The lecturer’s eye colour is||1 x|
|Female main character 2 – Photographer|
|The photographer’s first name (female) is||541 x|
|The photographer’s surname (female) is||3 x|
|The first letter of the photographer’s first name is||1 x|
|The photographer’s hair colour is||11 x|
|The photographer’s eye colour is||10 x|
|The photographer’s nickname (female) is||65 x|
|The favourite perfume of the photographer is||5 x|
|The photographer loves to wear clothing with the colour||4 x|
|The two friends' favourite coffee shop|
|The two friends' favourite coffee shop (with outside patio area) is called||4 x|
|Male supporting character 1 – German-speaking guide|
|The expedition leader’s (European) first name (male) is||289 x|
|The expedition leader’s (European) surname (male) is||18 x|
|The expedition leader’s (European) hair colour is||2 x|
|The expedition leader’s (European) eye colour is||7 x|
|Male supporting character 2 – English treasure hunter|
|The English lord’s first name (male) is||146 x|
|The English lord’s surname (male) is||9 x|
|The English lord’s hair colour is||3 x|
|The English lord’s eye colour is||5 x|
|The local guide’s first name (male) is||23 x|
|Spanish diamond smuggler|
|The first name of the Spanish diamond smuggler (male) is||6 x|
|The diamond smuggler’s half-brother and helper|
|The first name of the diamond smuggler’s helper (male) is||8 x|
|The surname of the two smugglers (half-brothers) is||30 x|
|Ex-boyfriend of the photographer|
|The first name of the photographer’s ex-boyfriend is||7 x|
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