"The Benefactor's Monkey".

"The Benefactor's Monkey" by CHRISTOPHER MORTEN

"The Benefactor's Monkey" is Chris Morten's first novel, but the author is no stranger to the role of word-smith. He became a journalist in 1968, and has worked in Fleet Street, Africa and Australia for an impressive array of major news organisations.

He has spent half his 51 years in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). After leaving school in the early 1960's he worked as a farmer, tobacco buyer, and district Patrol Officer, before joining the Bulawayo Chronicle as a reporter. He went overseas in 1969.

Morten was working for United Press in London before returning to Rhodesia in 1975 as a freelance war and political correspondent. He roamed the war zone, firtsly in his mine-protected 4WD and later in his own plane. His first-hand reports of life in the op-area reached millions of people around the world until 1978, when he returned to farming for a year.

It was while serving with the Sipolilo PATU that Morten was present when a Police medic described the new epidemic which terrorists were reportedly spreading in the Zambezi Valley. Sexually spread and incurable, it was a "one way ticket to hell!" according to the medic, who warned the farmers to caution labour forces with ties in the Valley.

The warning was never reported by Morten, who left his newshound's hat in storage while on ops with PATU. When peace talks reached fruition in London, Morten was asked to cover the cease-fire and independence celebrations for BBC-TV. He left Zimbabwe several weeks after independence, after a gentle warning from the incoming administration. Fascinated by Australia's Outback, he migrated and set up a Channel Nine news bureau in Broome. He filmed and wrote hundreds of news and current affairs stories in a "beat" covering a quarter of the continent.

In 1988 Morten and partner Lyn Joy moved to Queensland's Sunshine Coast. They share their rain forest home with a wide variety of wildlife. It was here Chris Morten turned to book writing four years ago after severe and permanent vision loss left him unable to fly, drive or read normal print.

"I had started various books in the past", Morten admits, "but changing circumstances always interceded and the scripts remained unfinished..." His current novel writing began as therapy to lessen the impact of partial blindness, but is shaping as a new and challenging chapter in his own story. "Thank God I chased hands-on experience while I could", he reflects. "My past is now providing a rich and vivid garden of memories, which I intend harvesting regularly in the years ahead."

He is currently working on two more novels. One is set in the Kimberley district of Northwest Australia. The other is an international thriller, intended as a follow-up to "The Benefactor's Monkey".

"THE BENEFACTOR'S MONKEY" by Christopher Morten.


The Benefactor's Monkey, like most good thrillers, weaves a colourful tapestry of fact and fiction. The blended images will beg the question: "How much of this is true?".

There was a brutal terorist war in what was then Rhodesia. That is true. It involved spies and lies, and all the other intrigue and bloodshed of such events. However, in Rhodesia a different type of death stalked both sides involved in the savage conflict. By the time it was officially recognised, the hostilities were nearly over. Neither side was to know that the new death was to claim far more lives than bullets, bombs, landmines and other implements of war. Far more.

The author was one of the first to be told of the New Death. The Benefactor's Monkey explains - hypothetically - how the New Death was born, and why.

The plot moves quickly about the globe and exposes much of the author's personal knowledge of Africa. It was gained over half a lifetime on that continent.

Despite a moving love story, this is not a "happy ending" book. The subject is far too dark for that, the forces far too intolerant. The tapestry itself, though drenched in blood, retains images of hope. The story line moves rapidly, building to a crescendo and final quirk, further encouraging the question: "How much of this is true?"