Set in rural Mongolia, Diane Duca's I Heard a Ram Call My Name sets up a moral standoff between predators and prey by detailing a single hunting expedition for the endangered argali sheep. Interweaving human and animal perspectives, this meticulous and detail-rich novel paints a comprehensive portrait of an argali hunt. By following the story of the expedition from beginning to end, it explores every facet of the process from its shady organization to the devastating and lasting consequences for the hunted animals. At the novel's beginning it is centered around a beleaguered German business ambassador working in Mongolia named Helmut. He is desperately trying to make preparations for his company’s executives upcoming hunting trip. Helmut has personal moral misgivings about the practice of argali hunting, but feels compelled by loyalty to his company to complete the task assigned to him. However, in spite of his desire to organize the expedition and wash his hands of the whole business as quickly as possible, the planning is not going smoothly. Only exacerbating Helmut’s conflicted feelings is his flirtatious friendship with a local Mongolian woman named Sheema. An independent artist with a personal history of caring for and interacting with the argali, Sheema feels a strong connection with the sheep and is passionate about their protection from hunters. For Helmut, she serves as a living reminder of the toll organizing the expedition is taking on his conscience, for the reader, of the cultural significance the argali hold for the [...]
"The Only Witness" is a hip and socially relevant "who-done-it." Beason employs knowing doses of drama, humor, adventure and romance to polish her clever premise into a sparkling jewel; a friendly persuasion of plot and character development that maintains a high level of reader interest and fascination.