Three Weeks in December

In 1899, Jeremy, a young engineer, leaves his small town in Maine to oversee construction of a railroad across East Africa. He's left home because of a secret that has alienated him from everyone. The new start in Africa is a rocky one. He is wracked by malaria, afraid, bereft of companionship and, worst of all, his camp is attacked by two lions. Because he is the white man with the gun, he must kill the lions, which he does. As the new century dawns, he makes an unusual connection with another person--one that will resonate through the years.

In 2000, Max, an ethnobotanist, is a high-functioning autistic, unable to make eye contact or to bear being touched by anyone. Her social skills may be lacking, but her credentials are in order--she travels to a gorilla station in Rwanda for a pharmaceutical company in search of a vine that might have lifesaving properties.

The others at the station are unwilling to help Max. If the vine is found, the pharmaceutical company will harvest it, withdraw financial support from the station and remove the hired guards. The gorillas--already driven to a habitat too high for long-term survival--will be hunted as bushmeat.

And no one expects a terrifying invasion by the Kutu from Congo.

The way the two stories come together is unexpected, absolutely original, believable and so beautifully told that the reader leaves the book feeling amazed and completely satisfied. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

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