The Smoke That Thunders
(1983) – Action/Adventure
(Currently out of print – being re-edited)
During the Irish liberation war of 1919, under the inspiration of Michael Collins – the top Irish revolutionary leader of the time – emerges a man called Tom Sutton who is overtly successful in his execution of disrupting British rule. Being a man with a price on his head, he loses his wife in a brutal rape executed by Black and Tans at a bloody raid on his home. Believing his son suffered the same deadly fate as his wife; he is forced to escape and finds himself in the vast continent of Africa, sinking into the shame and degradation of alcohol. By a strange twist of fate, a little girl with a bowl of soup and the fear of the loss of her own dying father brings him back from a living death to the reality of the child’s future. Together with the young girl Heidi and Weasel Byrne, his only friend from the Irish trouble times, they travel north, through the small working gold mines of Southern Rhodesia to north of MOSI-O-TUNYA (The Smoke That Thunders, a.k.a. Victoria falls), finally settling in Northern Rhodesia. Tying to forget his past, he attempts to build a new life with the help of a devoted African servant and friend from his gold mining days. His son, whom he thought had died, was adopted by the British officer who sought to destroy Sutton during the Irish bid for liberation, and now re-enters the story in a search of revenge on the father who deserted him. His son John would do or try anything he could hurt Tom Sutton, even watch his father being mauled by a savage wounded lion.
The story relates the complicated love triangle between Heidi, the child fast reaching womanhood, Maria, the woman who shared Sutton’s bed, and the memory of Grace, and what she would have thought of him. Then there was Bradley, who, in a separate bid to hide his own foul secret, commits destruction and murder in an attempt to move Sutton off his land. Weasel Byrne, the likeable little man; his friend at the start and at end of a long and moving journey. Simalala, the trusted African servant, who would give his life for Sutton and gives it for his son in a most bloody and grueling way as can only be part of Africa in the raw.
This is Tom Sutton’s story, often funny, often sad, but filled with a passion and excitement as big as Africa, and only Mosi-o-Tunya (The Smoke That Thunders) determines the explosive climax of their hatred, passion, love and future.