One of the most interesting projects I was involved in last year was editing a novel titled Horn, written by first-time novelist Timothy Lewthwaite. The project was referred to me by the highly skilled designer on the project, Fiona Raven.
Horn reminds me of the work of Michael Crichton. Crichton, who was trained as a medical doctor, wrote a string of very successful novels that revolved around some aspect of technology or scientific knowledge. The topics ranged from dinosaurs (Jurassic Park) to airplane technology (Airframe).
The topic of Lewthwaite’s book is the international poaching of rhinoceros horn. Like Crichton’s books, Horn has a core of solidly researched technical information—which is scarcely surprising since Lewthwaite has been researching and writing about the zoo industry for over a decade. But his book is very readable because he writes without the long, ponderous technical passages that were sometimes present in Crichton’s work. In Horn, Lewthwaite uses only enough of his technical knowledge to tell a good story.
Horn has the essential ingredients that make a very good novel: interesting and believable characters, authentic settings, and a well-constructed plot.
I have just learned that Horn is a finalist in the New Fiction category of the 2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards. It is richly deserving of the honour.