Book Party in New York’s Central Park Zoo

James Gardner’s novel, “The Lion Killer” was launched with a smashing book party hosted by William Flaherty in New York’s Central Park Zoo. Almost 200 people, including Susan Lucci and Helmut Huber, Kathryn Bryan, Bob Halmi, Jr., Carolyne Roehm, Richard Johnson, Maria Cooper Janis, Ira Neimark, Susan and John Gutfreund and Alison Stern, gathered to celebrate.

Nelson DeMille, a New York Times #1 best-selling author, says, “The Lion Killer is one of the few really good books to come out of Africa; James Gardner’s powerful writing illuminates the Dark Continent.” The multi-Emmy Award winning Halmi Jr. says, “It is a riveting thriller with twists and turns galore.”

The adventure is set in contemporary Africa.  A young American couple survives a bloody massacre in the Bwindi Forest. The wife is found but the husband is lost. The anxious father of the missing man bribes Rigby Croxford, a Rhodesian Bush War hero, for help. Life spirals out of control as Croxford’s search takes him from the Bahamas and Palm Beach to Zimbabwe and the Sudan. Along the way we meet Helen, Croxford’s doctor wife, Max Turner, the super-wealthy father of the missing man and a host of fascinating characters.  Gardner’s story telling approach follows in the path of Dashiell Hammett. “Life is disposable; the Land is beautiful and the search is fatal.”

The zoo was alive with excitement. Zoë, the snow leopard, was dancing in her multi-million dollar bamboo forest home and the sea lions sang for their supper. Hasan Bakr provided musical entertainment with traditional African instruments: the ngoni, a harp-lute, and the djembe, a hand drum. Guests drank champagne and nibbled on gorgeous platters of hors d’oeuvres.

The party was cited by many as one of the best of New York’s busy fall season. Flaherty, a Zoo trustee and one of Gardner’s closest friends, put together a great list that included writers, artists, businessmen and top social figures. Among the crowd were Tina Louise; David Schiff; Gillian and Sylvester Miniter; George Gurley; Wendy Carduner; Michael Takiff; interior designer Jennifer Bradford Davis; Anna Kennedy Safir, from UNICEF; Gail and Dennis Karr; Francis Scaife and Tom McCarter; Iris Love; Sharon Bush; Jo Hallingby; Jean Shafiroff; Margo Langenberg; Sharon Hoge; Lee Gabrielle Lowell and literary agent Marianne Strong.

Introducing Gardner, Flaherty said, “I’m going to talk to the men and tell them why they might be jealous of Jim Gardner.  He’s a seaplane pilot, an excellent marksman, deep-sea fisherman, wonderful golfer and an adventurer. He’s tall, handsome and a good writer.”

After 25 trips, Gardner is not only an expert on the Continent, he is passionate in his love for it.  He took the podium to emphasize the need for the United States to support Africa. “Africans are an important part of our future.” Nelson DeMille says, “James Gardner writes and speaks from his vast knowledge of the land and its people.”  The Lion Killer is the first in a series of three novels.

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