Amid the pristine wilderness of Africa’s Zambezi region unfolds a sinister tale of political upheaval, sexual intrigue, and Murder in the Troop.
Along the banks of the mighty Zambezi River in the high plains of northern Zimbabwe, a troop of chacma baboons tend to their daily routines in accordance with the rules of social order that make for a stable and cohesive community.
Alliances can mean the difference between life and death, as each day brings a myriad of challenges. Months of searing heat and drought grip the land, and ambushes by rival troops and predators such as leopards, crocodiles, and pythons pose imminent threats.
A rare set of twins born to the dominant male and female face an especially difficult trial. In an environment where only a quarter of infants survive their first year, the odds are stacked against them. But their “royal parentage” could carry some advantages for their survival.
In the Zambezi, privilege can be lost as quickly as it is gained. A large male from a neighboring troop enters their ranks, determined to unseat the dominant male. In a swift and decisive battle, the king is deposed and the entire stability of the troop is thrown into turmoil. Under the rule of the new alpha male, the twins are no longer safe — the intruder has cast his eye on their mother. But the infants are not yet weaned and until they are, their mother will remain sexually unavailable. For the tyrant, the equation is simple and brutal, but just how far will he go?
The rains are late and the dry season stretches into its eighth month. Competition for food brings the troop’s inherent rivalries to the surface, and bouts of infighting break out. The alliances that were once the binding thread of the group begin to come undone.
Meanwhile, only one of the twins has survived, and he must grapple with his brother’s murder, his father’s overthrow, and a mother whose affections have been commandeered by the one responsible for the heinous deeds.
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Online content for Murder in the Troop was originally posted April 2006.