Paula McLain, author of Love and Ruin

and The Paris Wife

A 2020 Amazon Editor's Pick for Summer
"Remarkable . . . fans of women’s history and adventure stories will cheer this engrossing account."
                                                                   —Publisher's Weekly
  "Engaging . . . her story speaks for itself, and it is one for the books."
"A captivating and wonderfully revealing story."
"Incredible . . . the perfect summer adventure book."
                                                                   Town & Country
Misty Slopes

From the author of the bestselling MRS. SHERLOCK HOLMES comes an unforgettable new adventure.


Olive MacLeod was a thirty-year-old, redheaded Scottish socialite who was the life of every party she went to.

But in 1910, her whole world changed when her fiancé, a handsome naturalist she had just met, went missing in Africa.


So she went to find him.

"Olive the Lionheart has it all . . .

Ricca mines emotions and real fears in this incredible true story."


-Brad Meltzer, author of The Lincoln Conspiracy



Olive's journey to Africa covered nearly 3,700 miles in nine months before its unforgettable end. In jungles, swamps, cities, and deserts, Olive and her two companions, the Talbots, come face-to-face with cobras and crocodiles, wise native chiefs, a murderous leopard cult, and two adorable lion cubs that she adopts as her own. Making her way in a pair of ill-fitting boots, Olive awakens to the many forces around her, from devious colonial spies to a shadowy force in the East who may hold the key to her intended husband's disappearance.


As these secrets begin to unravel, Olive is forced to confront the darkest, most shocking secret of all:


Why she really came to Africa in the first place.

Drawing on her own travel accounts,
her fiancé's lost diary, unsealed government documents, and her own letters and photographs, Olive the Lionheart is a love story that defies all boundaries, set against the backdrop of a beautiful, unconquerable Africa.

Follow along on Olive's incredible journey with this map designed by award-winning artist Henry Sene Yee.

"Powerful, nearly hallucinatory . . .

a swift-moving re-creation of an intrepid,

rare spirit of her age."

                                                         -Kirkus Reviews

Photos by Olive MacLeod




Edgar Award finalist

Best Fact Crime

“An express train of a story."

-Starred review, Kirkus Reviews


"Heroic...her  inspiring story demands a hearing.”

New York Times


“Rambunctiously excellent…his storytelling skills give Humiston’s incredible life the book it deserves.”

The Christian Science Monitor



Winner, Ohioana Book Award for Nonfiction


“A wonderful book, as exciting as Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.”

―Starred review, Booklist


“As definitive a work as may be possible.”

The Washington Post


“Compulsively readable.” ―Publishers Weekly



Winner, St. Lawrence

Book Award

"An entertaining, bold, and wholly original collection of poems" - The Rumpus

"A voice and style I’m enthralled to see.”

-Luke Kennard, The Transition

"A bustling, boisterous, mischievous book, the kind of book you should keep on you always, everywhere.”

-Heather Phillipson,

Faber Poets 3


Originally appeared 9.27.19 on the podcast CRIMINAL with Phoebe Judge and guest Brad Ricca. Visit thisiscriminal.com for more episodes. Art by Julienne Alexander. 


I've written Mrs. Sherlock Holmes (St. Martin’s, 2017), Super Boys (St. Martin’s, 2013), and American Mastodon (Black Lawrence Press, 2011). I made a movie, Last Son, that won a 2010 Silver Ace Award at the Las Vegas Film Festival. I've also written for The Beat, Belt, Book Riot, Narratively, History Extra, and the official Star Wars website (you know it). I've been in documentaries on the History Channel, AMC, and have been a guest on Criminal, All Things Considered, BBC radio, and Innovation Hub, among others. I was born in a suburb of Cleveland and teach sometimes at Case Western Reserve University, where I earned a Ph.D. in English. I live in Shaker Heights (still Cleveland) with Caroline and our three boys, in a 100-year-old house.

I am not a journalist or a historian really or maybe even a biographer. I am a writer who wants to tell unconventional stories that haven't been told before  usually about people who are somewhat invisible and imperfect in sometimes unconventional ways that explore that moment between someone's actual life and the telling of it. Those are the stories I like, where the real meets the imaginary.

Olive the Lionheart is the newest story of that type that I have been very privileged to tell. Olive is, like this book, not what she first seems. Or more importantly, she is not what others make her out to be. She is, like all of us, so much more. She may not be famous, but her story will stay with you. I promise you that.

Thanks for reading (and reading). I really appreciate it.

Stay safe,

For signed copies, contact

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For rights inquiries, please contact agent Scott Mendel:

© 2020 by Brad Ricca