"Fierce Kingdom"

“Fierce Kingdom,” by Gin Phillips, is a page-turning thriller, the story of the bond between mother and child. Joan and her four-year-old son, Lincoln, are visiting one of their favorite places, the local zoo. They visit the zoo often and are familiar with its layout, know which exhibits are empty and where the all the hidden enclosures are.

As Joan and Lincoln are headed for the exit at closing time, they are startled by popping noises. Joan realizes these are gunshots coming from the zoo entrance. She grabs Lincoln and heads to the empty porcupine enclosure in the primate zone. It is a good hiding place, but as time passes Lincoln becomes agitated and hungry.

Joan knows that for their own safety she must get him food before he throws a fit. They have seen and heard two gunmen walk by, so she is aware that she must keep Lincoln quiet. She manages to successfully get them to the vending machines where they are able to obtain something to eat. It is there that Kailynn, a teenager who works at the zoo sees them and invites them to join her and a retired school teacher hiding in a lockable closet in the cafeteria.

Unfortunately one of the shooters, Robby Montgomery, discovers their hiding place and confronts them. He recognizes his third grade teacher, Mrs. Powell and tells them to follow him and he will lead them to the exit. Although Robby acts like he is going to help them, Joan doesn’t trust him. She is able to duck out of sight and hide Lincoln while she goes to get help. It is then that the police charge the shooters and Joan is caught in the crossfire.

This story of motherhood shows the extent a mother will go to in order to save her child. Although this book kept me reading, it left me with a lot of questions. Why did it take the police almost four hours to storm the zoo? Why did Joan throw her phone away?

The book also had a lot of loose ends that left you wondering. What happened to Mrs. Powell? What happened to the baby hidden in a trashcan? Did Joan survive? If you enjoy action packed thrillers or books that keep you wondering, you will enjoy “Fierce Kingdom.”