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He could stop this with a word. A raised hand.
Instead he began the task for which he'd come as a band of armed men fanned out, kicking in bamboo doors, tossing torches onto thatched roofs, dragging residents still groggy with sleep into the open. A spattering of gunfire on the far side of the village signaled the first resistance.
He made no effort to interfere when the first woman was tossed down onto the red dirt of the clearing. Flames leaping high from burning huts now matched the red and orange streaks lightening a dawn sky above the jungle canopy. The gunfire had become a steady staccato. He closed his ears to its clatter. To the shouts, screams, moans. The terrified sobbing of a child.
But he could not so close his eyes. These images would never leave his mind.
By the time all fell silent, the rising sun had cleared the treetops. But its cheerful rays could not penetrate a black pall of smoke that drifted upward to cast its spreading shadow across the sky.
He turned his head as a hand touched his shoulder. His second-in-command stepped close to murmur urgently, "The searchers found nothing. Learned nothing. We must go before the smoke is spotted and others come."
But he shook off his subordinate's warning hand to stride out across the clearing. Stepping around prone shapes and viscous scarlet puddles, he peered through smoldering doorframes until the thunderous crash of a collapsing roof startled him into prudence. Only when he was satisfied nothing remained to be done did he lift a hand in signal. As he slipped noiselessly into the rainforest's camouflage of leaf and vine and root, a phalanx of phantoms melted into invisibility with him.
Behind them, all that remained of what had been a tranquil rainforest community were embers and dead bodies.
He did not permit himself to waste a heartbeat on pity.
After all, none had been granted him or his!
* * *
"The problem with these people, bokkie, isn't that they can't be bought. It's that they just won't stay bought!"
Robin Duncan had no illusion that the brawny, flaxen-blond South African mercenary was referencing their Congolese driver, who still sat unmoving behind the steering wheel of the ancient two-anda-half-ton market truck, staring out a cracked windshield.
Nor a dozen equally brawny Caucasian males hunkered down on a pile of luggage in the truck bed.
Nor even the two border guards who'd waggled their heads and AK-47 assault rifles at the passports and stamped visa forms Robin offered through a rolled-down window.
No, Pieter Krueger's latest disgusted pronouncement was directed at the same person or persons responsible for Robin's own sour attitude and sore posterior. Cracked vinyl upholstery over broken wire springs was hardly adequate protection against twenty kilometers of jolting through deep ruts, untrimmed brush, and dry streambeds. Especially when she'd been awake and on the move for over twenty-four hours.
Robin straightened her spine to ease stiffened back muscles as she stepped away from the truck cab. Just beyond the truck's rusted hood, a metal pole extended across the dirt track. A round hut squatted in the shade of several large mango trees, its conical thatched roof giving the appearance of a witch's hat.
Black letters staggered drunkenly across the whitewash of the hut. Services de l'immigration République démocratique du Congo.
A touch of officialdom drooped from a second metal pole, this one vertical. The sky-blue banner with a diagonal red stripe banded in yellow and a yellow star in the upper-left corner—the DRC's most recent version of a country flag. A scattering of cinder-block shacks completed the hamlet. Shops, apparently, from the boxes of cigarettes, aluminum cookware, grain sacks, and mounds of fruit and vegetables that were identifiable even under a coating of red dust.
But if this Congolese strip mall existed to capitalize on transnational traffic, business was poor. The market truck was the only vehicle pulled up to the roadblock. Behind it, the dirt track snaking back through the no-man's-land held only a few trudging pedestrians balancing loads on their heads along with a rapidly approaching dust cloud. A motorcycle, judging by the size of the cloud and the distinct rumble. Beyond the roadblock where the road disappeared again into a dense tangle of green, not a motorized vehicle nor even a bicycle was in sight.
Which might account for the swarm of vendors already mobbing the truck with dusty glass bottles of Coca-Cola and Primus, the region's ubiquitous local beer, as well as plastic baggies filled with a cloudy liquid that could be palm wine or coconut water. And the bored indolence with which the two guards ambled around the truck to peer through the wooden slats at its cargo of passengers and luggage.
"So just what's the holdup?" A hand dropped onto Robin's shoulder. "Why are they not letting us through?"
"They say there's a problem with our papers. You'll have to go inside and speak to the com-mander." Robin inched away as Pieter Krueger's large frame loomed uncomfortably close. She'd been working a UN fact-finding mission as team linguist in Haiti when the private security company that held her contract, Ares Solutions, had contacted her. Two of the language skills listed on her résumé—French (excellent) and Swahili (passable)—were urgently needed for a brand-new security contract in eastern DRC. The hazard pay bonus offered was generous enough to suggest caution if Robin didn't need the money so badly. She'd been issued a replacement for Haiti and an e-ticket to Kenya by the time her duffel bag was packed.
In the Nairobi airport, Robin had joined up with some two dozen other Ares Solutions operatives. From their introductions, the group constituted a fairly stereotypical representation of their chosen career in more ways than just the inevitable safari-style clothing, Kevlar vests, wraparound sunglasses, and muscled builds. Two German commandos. Several Australian and New Zealander former paratroopers. A scattering of East European elite troopers whose Cold War training offered few employment opportunities at home these days but was a hot commodity in the private military market. Robin's only countrymen were a pair of Vietnam-era Green Berets, gray-haired and weather-beaten.
But by far the largest contingent were white Africans. South African commandos who'd gone freelance once their country fell under black rule. Rhodesians who'd fought as teenagers in Ian Smith's Bush War before that country became Zimbabwe. Angolan Portuguese. Three white Kenyans who'd served in the British Special Air Service. A pair of apartheid-era Afrikaner combat helicopter pilots.
All had that ineffable air—less arrogance than supreme self-confidence combined with somewhat-unkempt personal grooming—that suggested they'd knocked around the planet's sleazier underbelly long and successfully enough that they simply didn't care what any other human being might think of them. Dangerous men, definitely. For hire, perhaps. But still warriors and superlatively expert at their craft. English was the one language they'd all demonstrated in common. None spoke more than a few words of French or Swahili, not even the Kenyans, in whose country the latter was a primary language among its black majority population.
Well, that was why Robin was here.
The single other outlier on this mission was a third passenger now clambering down from the truck cab, pale-blue eyes blinking behind metal-rimmed glasses. His gaze shifted only fractionally from the reinforced screen of a tough-travel notebook computer to find his footing. Round-shouldered, brown hair untrimmed, Carl Jensen looked so much the image of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo that Robin had found herself instinctively glancing around for his canine companion.
"You mean you'll have to speak to this commander." White teeth flashed in chiseled, handsome features as Krueger stepped forward to reclaim the space Robin had inserted between them. "You did well enough in Arua. But border authorities in these parts are not so predictable, especially for a woman. Just stay close to me, speak only the words I give you, and you'll be safe enough."
An Afrikaner in his late thirties, Pieter Krueger had introduced himself in Nairobi as manager for Ares Solutions' African operations. He'd herded the group onto a C-130 four-engine military cargo plane chartered to ferry their team along with a full load of mission supplies from Nairobi to Bunia, in the DRC. But the pilot had announced midflight that their clearance into the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been inexplicably revoked.
They'd diverted instead to land in Arua, a Ugandan border town. While a handful of Ares Solutions operatives remained behind to mount guard over the plane's contents, Robin had used her halting Swahili to help Krueger negotiate ground transport just over the Congolese border, where arrangements had been made for an air pickup from Bunia.
"But we do not have much time. We still have a drive ahead to the airstrip, and our flight could be landing anytime now. You might as well learn now our new mutual employer has no patience for unpunctuality." Krueger's hand on Robin's shoulder slid down to the small of her back as though to steer her toward the border outpost. "I must say a female translator is still a surprise. I have served in the past with Trevor Mulroney, and he is not the sort to hire a woman for such a mission as this. Or at all. Not that I am complaining to have such a pretty young bokkie on the team."
Robin gritted her teeth at his appreciative leer and the warm pressure of his hand. Pieter Krueger had insisted Robin join him and Carl in the truck cab instead of crouching down against a whirlwind of red dust in the open truck bed. To facilitate communication with the driver had been his stated rationale. The South African mercenary was admittedly a striking male specimen whose rugged, blond good looks could have graced a Nazi-era poster for Aryan perfection. And single, he'd been quick to let Robin know.
But after the past hour of running commentary on corrupt African governance, unruly native populations, Krueger's exploits fighting in Africa's many wars, and the general worthlessness of the entire continent north of Johannesburg, Robin wasn't so sure she'd brokered the better deal. And if his Afrikaner slang was the endearment she guessed, Robin was going to have to set some hard boundaries before this contract progressed much further.
Not for the first time in the testosterone-dominated profession she'd chosen.
"So, anything cold to drink around this place?" Carl Jensen slammed shut his laptop to glance around.
"Cold, no. Wet, yes. Just don't buy anything that isn't factory bottled if you don't want to pay for it later." Gesturing to where her teammates were already trading coins for drinks, Robin used the interruption to step discreetly away so Pieter Krueger had to drop his hand. The South African threw her a sharp glance, white teeth disappearing into a frown. But without further comment, he strode toward the whitewashed hut. Robin followed, deliberately lagging two paces behind.
Overhead, a fierce sun marked the hour as close to noon. Breaking out a hand wipe from the knapsack she carried over one shoulder, Robin swabbed perspiring cheeks as she walked. It came away sodden with red mud. A breeze whistling through the mango trees brought with its cooling touch a scent of dust and green mangoes, manure, and fermenting palm sap, tapped all over Africa as an alcoholic beverage.
Drifting from inside one of the shops, the syncopated beat of a carved-wood drum accompanied a man's voice crooning a Swahili folk ballad. In a cultivated field beyond, a pair of zebras, mother and foal, munched contentedly on whatever crop was planted there.
Zebras! How long had it been since Robin had glimpsed a zebra outside a zoo?
There'd been a time in Robin's far-distant childhood when the sights, sounds, and smells of an African countryside roused only delight, a magical real-life version of Disney's The Lion King. The vast green horizons and bright-red earth like nothing else she'd seen on the planet. Those peculiar flat-topped trees for which she knew no name, dotting open pastures like inverted brooms. Clusters of thatched huts, round and square. The chaos and bright colors of an open-air market. Grinning dark faces and the staccato of bare feet pounding in dance for the latest community excuse of celebration.
But today Robin saw instead the rheumy, sunken eyes of several small children peering from an alley between shops, their naked bellies swollen from parasites and malnutrition. The angry desperation of vendors battling for a rare sale. Piles of rotting garbage that competed with the fragrance of fresh-picked fruit. The casual, even bored brutality with which the two guards were now using the butts of their weapons to beat back a few peddlers who persisted in hassling the new arrivals.
I am so tired of war and hunger and poverty. Of places and jobs like this. Of human misery and sheer human meanness that never seems to reach its limit! All the more reason to get through this checkpoint and this contract as quickly as possible.
Which did not prove so simple a matter as Robin had hoped.
The interior of the border outpost was a single large room open to the thatched roof. A metal filing cabinet, scattered plastic chairs, and the rickety wooden table that served as the immigration counter constituted its sole furnishings. Geckos scurried up walls where whitewashed plaster had crumbled to reveal mud brick beneath. Something unseen rustled in the dried palm fronds directly above Robin's head. The only lighting filtered through a pair of small windows.
"So you understand, your papers are no good here." A short but powerfully built man, the outpost commander had barely glanced at the stack of signed, stamped immigration forms before waving them away. On the table in front of him, empty Primus bottles crowded a manual typewriter. A sickly-sweet aroma of marijuana smoke suggested the lethargy and reddened, dilated glares of two more guards who'd jumped to their feet as the group entered were not after all due to boredom or interrupted slumber. "This means you cannot enter my country."
"I don't understand. How can these visas be no good?" Robin asked with a patience she did not feel. Even as she spoke, through the open door she took note of the motorcycle she'd heard earlier pulling up outside. Bundles lashed to its frame were piled so high she caught only a glimpse of blue jeans as a passenger dismounted. Robin pushed the stack of paperwork across the table. "These visas are issued by your own government. We received them just this morning in Nairobi."
"Then that is the problem. You have not crossed into the DRC from Kenya, but from Uganda. So that requires a separate visa. You cannot proceed without it."
But you rejected our visas before you even knew we'd originated in Kenya! Robin didn't dare introduce logic audibly into this proceeding. Recent years had taught her only too well the lessons of dealing with Third World bureaucracy. Never argue injustice. Never look a uniform in the eye. Grovel humbly and smilingly. Above all, let small-minded, petty officials, especially those carrying automatic weapons, feel as big and powerful and important as necessary to get the job done!
Behind Robin, Pieter Krueger's body language radiated impatience while others of the team were now jostling through the open door. Though Ugandan border control had required them to leave their weapons with the C-130, such a sizable group of large, muscled expatriates was attracting unfriendly glares from the commander's two bodyguards. Robin didn't care for the restless twitchiness with which they were fingering their AK-47s.
In her most conciliatory French, she pleaded, "But we have a plane waiting to pick us up. We won't have time to return to Uganda and come back. Surely there must be something we can do. Someone we can talk to. We have come to your country by direct invitation of the Ituri governor, Jean Pierre Wamba. See, here is his letter of authorization."
The commander's glance of incomprehension at the typed French and scrawled signature under an official letterhead confirmed Robin's suspicions of the man's illiteracy. "And what good is this? How am I to know it is not a forgery? No, you must return to Uganda and purchase new visas."
He wasn't going to budge. Her shoulders slumping in defeat, Robin murmured unhappily to Pieter Krueger, "I'm sorry, but I've tried everything I can, and I'm afraid we're just out of luck. He insists we have to go back to Arua and get new visas before we can cross. Can you radio our pickup and let them know we've got another delay on our hands?"
Excerpted from CONGO DAWN by JEANETTE WINDLE Copyright © 2013 by Jeanette Windle. Excerpted by permission of TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted September 2, 2013
Read as part of the Tyndale House Summer Reading program. It was ok but not my favorite. This is a story based in the Congo of greed and destruction of the land.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 23, 2013
Robin Duncan agrees to work as a translator on a security team to protect mining operations in the Congo in order to provide money for her niece's operation. She never expected to meet Dr. Michael Stewart whom she had loved in Afghanistan when she and her brother Chris had served there together. It was Michael who had taken Chris in a medivac helicopter to a hospital before she was also hit and airlifted to a hospital. By the time Robin recovered enough to inquire, she learned her brother was dead, Michael had been sent stateside and she never heard from him again. But one of the first friends she made in the Congo on arriving there was Michael's sister, Miriam, who was married to an African doctor. And through Miriam Robin learned that Michael himself had been badly injured as the chopper they were on had been hit as they were lifting off and her brother had died. It was actually her father's fault that she never heard from Michael as he hadn't been allowed to speak to her and her father destroyed his letters. Miriam also heard a voice sounding like Robin who said Michael was never to call again, but it wasn't Robin. Miriam and Robin became close friends. It was Miriam who taught her how to have peace and joy in spite of circumstances and to rely on God for help. Miriam also gave her a Bible that gave her the courage to stand up to her boss and send the messages that would bring crucial help when it looked like evil would destroy Michael. What did Ephraim explain was his deepest prayer? Who was everyone blaming for all the problems and how was he managing to survive? How did they prepare to defend their last stronghold? How was Robin's niece able to have the necessary operation? Who was the real villain and how was he defeated?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 20, 2013
I loved this book! The story itself was fascinating, and it also served as a reminder that God is always in control, and His plans are so much better than our own.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 16, 2013
Robin Duncan, former Marine, works as a translator for an international corporation. Her team is sent to the Congo and she discovers a conspiracy involving a mining operation. She doesn't know who to trust and must rely on God.
I thought the story was good, but had a hard time getting into it. About one third of the way through, the storyline was more interesting to me, and I'm glad I finished the book.
Posted August 16, 2013
Wow! What a book! Not for the fainthearted but contains quite a lesson on forgiveness. It did take me a little while to get into the book and figure out what was happening but then I was riveted. A few years ago I would have thought this to be way too far fetched with all the killings and brutalities which occur in the book or are referenced as past events, but I know these things have occurred in Rwanda and Uganda. So, unfortunately, this seems all too real and possible that it could occur in the Congo darkness. Yet, through the events, God's light continues to shine, giving peace to those who allow it. Robin was a great character, immersed in her job, yet wanting to help her family.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 4, 2013
My husband and I listened to this book together though we kept listening ahead of the other person and then having to wait til we were caught up again. It was a really good read and it was good I was listening to it rather than reading it, because I am pretty sure I would have paged ahead to find out what happened. While, it did have the fairly typical ending of a fictional book, it kept you entranced in the story and wanting to know what was going to happen next. I also really liked how Jeanette brought out how God is faithful even in the midst of pain and suffering--God is there and He loves us no matter what we face. I would definitely like to read some more books by Jeanette Windle.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 15, 2013
Congo Dawn is about Robin Duncan and making sense of suffering in the world. Why do young people die? Why do children get cancer? Why do parents die before their time? And why are oppressive government allowed to continue in power?
If the reader can push through p. 260-278 are outstanding. As a whole, I was expecting more action, but the author spends too much time building characters. There are many paragraphs of internal dialogue and conversation.
However, Ms. Duncan does get too the bottom of corruption and its destruction of innocent lives in its wake. It is true... the love of money is the root of all evil and be careful of those who call good evil and evil good. Congo Dawn is not about knowing who the good guys are but knowing who God and His tranformative power over any situation. This book is similar to Brown's Fire of the Raging Dragon. Readers with tender hearts will have to put this book down just to process the great pain of this broken world.
Ms. Duncan's theology is secure and the overarching theme of Congo Dawn is forgiveness.
I received this book free from Tyndale publishing.
Posted 22nd February by Ma Ingalls
Posted July 11, 2013
A Suspense Story!
The story follows Robin Duncan on her quest to earn money for her niece's lifesaving surgery. The new job Robin takes throws her in the middle of the Congo jungle as a language specialist. On her way there she meets up with a person from her past, Michael-the last person she expected or wanted to see. After meeting his sister, Miriam, she cleared up some of the mysteries from 5 years ago and proved to be a real friend to Robin during a time that she needed to "find herself". Robin had to decide for herself who was telling the truth during the deadly jungle fights and get the evidence for the good guys to people who could save them all.
I really enjoyed the book-while you could guess some of the things that would happen there were still plenty of surprises throughout the book.
Posted June 30, 2013
Congo Dawn was a pleasant surprise compared to other Christian fiction books I’ve read lately. The Congo setting was interesting. There were a few twists and turns. However, I gave it three stars because the book was still pretty predictable. And it was preachy. I agreed with all the doctrine and the message of the story and the message of hope and healing through Jesus. I just wished the author had woven that message better throughout the story and not had to include these dialogues that were really just mini sermons.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 16, 2013
Great blend of missionary fiction and military suspense. Chris is an ex-marine turned mercenary, hired for her language skills on a mission to secure a molybdenum mining facility in the heart of Congo. Her goal is to use the sizable bonus to pay for the experimental surgery needed to save her niece's life. But once she lands in the jungle, more and more things begin to go wrong with the mission, threatening Chris' life and the life of her niece. As more details come out regarding the true nature of the mine, Chris is forced to decide where her moral duty lies: to her employer, to her family, to the Congolese, to herself, to the missionary doctor she once loved, or even to the God she thought had abandoned her.
Of the many christian fiction books I've read this summer, this has easily been one of my favorites. Part military suspense, part missionary fiction, the plot line was taut and clean. The writing was engaging, and there were several times when I was unsure where the story was headed.
One of the few books I'd like to see have a sequel.
Posted June 13, 2013
Another great book by Jeanette Windle. I have read her other books set in Afghanistan. This one is set in Africa. It isn't an easy read, but a worthwhile read. All is not as it seems. As Robin finds her services needed as a translator, she sets off to the Congo, needing money for her sick niece back home. She meets up with Michael from Doctors without Borders, a rocky past full of misunderstanding and misconception. Both think they are on the "right" side, but quickly learn things are not always what they seem. Who can they trust? Is God trustworthy enough for Robin to give him a chance? Will she let Michael explain? Will he? As all this drama swirls below the surface, evil is at work. The people of the Congo are being used and abused. Goverment is corrupt. People are afraid. No place is safe. Danger, Intrigue and a touch of romance, make a tough subject, compelling and real.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 12, 2013
This book was SO detailed -and quite frankly, felt really complicated - that at first I had a hard time "getting in to it". However, I kept going and am very glad I did.
Christina Robin Duncan, aka Lt. Chris Robin Duncan (she goes by Robin) is a former Marine in a long family line of Marines - all male. She feels she has a lot to prove in general, but after her brother tragically dies in Afghanistan while they are both on a tour of duty, her life takes several unexpected turns. She blames his best friend and the man she loved for his death, and has been carrying a grudge for the past five years.
She takes a new assignment working as an interpreter for a private international security firm, journeying back to the Congo, where a conspiracy begins to materialize. Many lives are at stake and Robin is confronted with major decisions that change the way she views the world. Also, Dr. Michael Stewart is there and as they reconnect through the course of this story, her entire world shifts as she comes to terms with the God who loves her and the man she thought abandoned her all those years ago.
This taut thriller certainly delivers and you will be glad you picked it up!
Posted March 27, 2013
I’m not a person who follows politics or the international scene very closely, but this book, set in a dark corner of the world, drew me in from page one and held my attention to the very last word. I have never read any previous work by Jeanette Windle, but this book was well worth my time.
Robin Duncan has one goal in mind when she takes an assignment with an international corporation. Drawing on her past experience as a marine lieutenant, she fills the position of interpreter on a security team seeking to safeguard a Congolese region threatened by a ruthless killer. She needs the money to help pay for life-saving surgery for her niece.
The mission finds Robin confronted with situations she had not expected to encounter, both on personal and professional levels. She comes face to face with Dr Michael Stewart, the man she once loved and for whom she still harbors bitterness at his betrayal involving her brother’s death. Just when it seems she and Michael have cleared up their misunderstandings, another situation comes along to make them wary of each other.
Robin begins the mission with complete faith in the good intentions of her superiors. She learns that the people she thought she could trust are embroiled in a deceitful, profit-seeking scheme. The insurgent the team seeks to capture, originally perceived as the evil enemy, may have motivations for his actions that are more justifiable than she could have imagined. All is not as it seems, and the division between good and evil blurs into a mass of confusion.
The author has crafted realistic characters who persevere in the face of adversity, show outstanding courage when confronted with danger, and base their decisions on compassion and love.
The element I liked most about this book is that Miss Windle takes the age old question of why a loving God allows so much human suffering and faces it straight on. She uses scripture in a non-preachy way to guide her reader to a deeper understanding of what human suffering is truly all about.
I felt a degree of shame as the author painted pictures of the stark reality of how people in war torn countries live, survive, and, with so little of what I take for granted, find joy in the midst of their suffering and sacrifice.
Posted March 26, 2013
I have read other books by Jeanette Windle and always love being taken to parts of the world where I have not been and being thoroughly immersed in the culture. I felt that way about Congo Dawn immediately. Ms. Windle shows herself to be a masterful story teller and I loved her female characters in this book. They are flawed but strong. Forgiveness overcomes hatred and the light overcomes the darkness. I recommend this book thoroughly.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 13, 2013
A few weeks ago, The Book Club Network offered some free books to people who would be willing to review. That's what I do, so I selected two books. This is one of them. When I informed the author, she warned me it was a thick book and not light reading. Okay, so it's one inch thick plus a teensy, and it's about business, politics, intrigue, and romance in the thick jungles of the Congo. Heavy reading. In approximately three hours of reading I've delved through a little less than half the book.
That being said--So far, so good!
The business? Molybdenum mining, and all is not as the owners portray to the public or to all their employees.
The politics? The Governor of the area, Wamba, wants a finger or two in the prosperous molybdenum pie. How he gets his share isn't all that important.
The intrigue? It's impossible to tell who is out to get whom, although the mysterious Jini is assumed to be the leader of the Congolese people trying to sabotage the mining operations. A highly educated man with the ability to fade unseen into the thick jungle after attacks, the owners of the mine want him dead or alive--preferably dead.
The romance? Sigh. Looks like it's not going any anywhere. Marine Lieutenant turned translator Robin thinks Michael let her brother bleed out after being wounded in Afghanistan. Combat Medic turned doctor Michael thinks Robin wiped him off her list when he had laid injured and in a coma for three months.
Both of them are mistaken, and about more than just each other.
Posted March 9, 2013
"Congo Dawn" by Jeanette Windle follows Robin, a former marine and present day translator/mercenary for hire who travels to the Congo with a British Billionaire to ensure that he can make money off of his molybdonite mine. He is using forced labor including children. Apparently, in Africa if you have a gun and enough money you can do what you want wherever you want. The government doesn't care as long as you line their pockets as well. Upon arrival in Africa, she meets up with a former friend. The relationship with Michael, a doctor with Doctors without Borders, had ended badly 5 years ago and now you can cut the sexual tension with a knife. Robin also realizes that nothing is as it seems, that she isn't on the "right side", and that God is watching.
This is a hard to read book. The words aren't that hard, but it isn't a book you can read while watching TV and with kids yelling in the house. It also isn't a happy, pass the time, type either. This is a serious book about a serious situation. It was hard for me to get into and I really didn't want to. It starts off with doom and well.....guilt. I have recently read "Rare Earth" another book about the invasion of Africa to the benefit of the rest of the world and yet I still use my cell phone regularly, knowing that Africans are being robbed of their lands for the insides. This book is no different. Well, a little, monlybdinite isn't rare, but the rape of a Continent is. This is a book that should be read, but I warn you, it won't be a picnic.
Posted March 8, 2013
An interesting book about a female North American former marine who takes a translation job with a mining company in the Congo. Although she spent her youth in Africa the many horrible genocidal African wars had not yet started when her family left there to a positing State-side. When they arrive she is disconcerted to discover that a former Marine friend is also at the village by her base-camp as a doctor at the missionary camp. She is disconcerted because she has feelings for him and yet she believes that he left her brother to die in Afghanistan. The theme of the book is based of the verse in Isaiah 5:20, Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil. Robin must determine who really is evil and who is good before another war is started and more villages and their people are killed. I found that the book was long but very interesting especially the realization that the Congo has a 300 year history of Christianity that is deeply engrained in her people despite the horrors that have been visited upon them. Who's faith is deep enough and strong enough to survive the horrors that are brought upon the villagers and Robin's team. Although romance is involved this is not a romance focused story but rather a story about sorting out beliefs and right and wrong.
I received this book from Tyndale for book review purposes, my review is strictly my opinion.
Posted February 25, 2013
Review: I must admit that when I began reading this book I found it overloaded with details and very difficult vocabulary. Had I not promised to do a book review, I would not have continued reading. But, as a result of a promise, I did continue reading and around page 65 began to find it difficult to put the book down. As the book opens, the author Jeanette Windle, informs the reader of a great deal of the history of Africa and the Congo in particular. She also introduces many characters and locations. When the story began to take on a plot, what emerged was a wonderful tale of failed dreams, disappointment and misunderstandings, forgiveness and eventually peace that accompanies trusting in our sovereign Creator who is working all things together for good.
Robin Duncan, an ex-Marine lieutenant, has been hired to serve as translator on an assignment to a mining camp in the Congo which is owned and operated by Ares Solutions and its CEO Trevor Mulroney. Rather quickly, Robin finds herself in the midst of untold corruption and conspiracy that has spread its ugly reach far beyond the local villagers to many in high ranking levels of government both in Africa and other parts of the world. This story weaves throughout its pages the dangers of making hasty judgments, stooping to all kinds of evil just to secure more of the “mighty dollar,” holding damaging grudges; and then, as the light of the gospel is spread, the story of truth, forgiveness, and trust in almighty God who is sovereign over all and uses all (both good and evil) to accomplish His will. It doesn’t hurt that a love story is also woven through the pages. I can recommend this book to be read by an upper level reader who is willing to persevere through its detailed beginning to find a delightful, informative read. (rev. J. La Tour)
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Tyndale Blog Network on behalf of the author and publisher in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.
Posted February 23, 2013
Congo Dawn, by Jeanette Windle
This new book has the typical elements you can expect from a fiction novel that takes place in an African conflict zone – abuse and draining of a community due to its natural resources and foreign businessmen blinded by profits and ignoring the devastation their enterprises cause to the people living in their source of wealth, as well as suspense, unbelievable circumstances, romance… However, this novel tells no ordinary story and is far from being typical.
What makes this novel so special is not the common thread it shares with other books, but the wonderful depth that Jeanette Windle imprints in the story through amazingly accurate historical, social, geographical and spiritual depictions, as well as her care and interest for those who have seen their lives threatened again and again. She takes particular interest in describing how the apparent comforts that Western civilization offer do not yield to happiness. True zest for life comes from overcoming what lies ahead and keeping our eyes on heaven; it lies on the certainty that the Creator is good and just, no matter how horrible men’s actions might be.
Robin, formerly in the Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan, is hired as a translator for a security team that would go into the Ituri region of Congo in order to check the actions of Jini, a local insurgent that is threatening the operations of a mining enterprise. Robin’s niece is need of a medical procedure, and this job is Robin’s way of providing for the kid and Robin’s sister. Robin comes across with Michael, a friend whom she holds responsible for her brother’s dead. Michael is a doctor who grew up in the area where the mine is, so he has apparent ties to the local community. The security team sets up at Taraja, the place where Michael’s family lives and have set up a medical clinic.
What Robin never imagined back home, is that this job will imply more than dealing with the living arrangements for some weeks. She needs to face and deal with Michael, his family and the actual loyalties of those around her. Little by little, she finds out that things might not be all what they initially seem to be, and she ends up in the middle of a tangled situation between her employer, the community and the government; her life might be in danger, but after learning about the atrocities Taraja has been through, her eyes start to open and even her faith becomes a challenge. Robin must face a tough decision – whether to follow her instincts or let the military training kick in.
While the intrigues go on, Michael and Robin recognize that they still have feelings for each other, but resentment and pride is in the way. Both of them learn about forgiveness and the awful consequences they have brought to each other’s life by jumping into conclusions. They must decide whom to trust and how to act; ethics fluctuate with interest, self-motivation and self-gratification, but power shines with money’s glow and it will push them to the limit. They can either be part of the solution, stopping that monster from devouring the Congolese or allowing themselves to be deceived…
One aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was the accurate historical and social description of the Ituri and Taraja. Jeanette Windle’s biographical information states that she is the daughter of a missionary family and that she has lived in six countries and traveled to more than twenty. This fact is apparent in the beautiful, vivid and accurate descriptions of the Congolese country; it is obvious that Mrs. Windle has a profound interest in other cultures and in understanding the facts that have shaped their people’s identity. Not only does the author transport the reader to a luscious green rain forest, but she is also able to share the warmth and richness of life in the simple life of the people living in the Ituri region. I could not get enough of the colors, smiles, drums, singing, rhythmic chores, joy and sense of belonging Mrs. Windle describe of Taraja. I also appreciate the fact that this does not dilute the reality that many African people have to face – the destruction of their home towns and abuse from people seeking to profit from the resources that should benefit them.
What amazed me the most is the way people who have been unimaginably tough situations still have a zest for life and are able to grow closer to God as a result of it; I wonder how we might seek to strengthen our own relationship with God, were we to face such tragedies as the people of Taraja have. For instance, conflict is considered as an opportunity to purify His church (p. 168-169), to refine our character (p.275) and to provide an ideal environment where resourcefulness, strength, resilience, ingenuity and generosity will thrive (p.277).
The author does take a long time to set the story, which makes the start somewhat dreary, but it is well worth putting up with it. A little more into technique and a personal preference, I appreciate the fact that the author takes her time to finish the story and not leave loose ends to it; many books today seem to want to end on a high note (generally a romantic one), without taking the time to resolve the issues that were crucial in determining the turns of the plot. It was refreshing to read a book that respects the reader enough to do so.
I would highly recommend this novel as a gift or reference for a study group. The situations it contains might not be the easiest to cope with, but the richness and sincerity in the Tarajans and their relationship to God is certainly a feature to treasure. Vocabulary is clean, and although the main characters are attracted to each other, there are no improper situations, making it a good option for most audiences, including older teenagers (please make sure to verify the contents first and be ready for questions). As a plus, the author includes a series of questions in the end of the book that invite the reader to reflect and analyze attitudes that could turn into good learning experiences if channeled appropriately. Because of the tough questions it addresses and its harmony with Scripture, this book could definitely be used as an evangelizing tool as well.
It is commendable that in a world where most people prefer reading light stories that just “tickle their ears,” there are authors like Jeanette Windle who care enough to use their talent in order to share the love of God for humans.
I received a complimentary copy of the book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange of an honest review. The latter has not influenced my opinion on the book or on the author.
Posted February 8, 2013
Robin Duncan is a former Marine Lieutenant, now working as a translator, who is totally focused on earning money to help save her niece's life. She has been hurt, abandoned, and endured hurt... now she is bitter and withdrawn. Serving as translator for an international corporation - as they struggle to a valuable Congo mining site. Who are they trying to get it from? A killer on a desperate path. Robin is shocked to find that one of her contacts is the man who promised to keep her brother safe and failed. The man that she holds responsible for her brother's death. Robin gets along and survives by refusing to have emotions.
Then Robin begins to understand the Congolese people and her emotions begin to resurface. As she spends more and more time in the jungle, she becomes more and more aware of the corruption surrounding her. Just who are the bad guys? And who are the good guys? What is the true motive? Does the killer really exist?
And does Robin truly know her King and Savior?
This story was a great look at many aspects of life. A close look at emotions, putting others first, and looking past first appearances. Also the setting is great - I have never read a book set in Congo before, and really enjoyed the chance to hear about it. Understanding how easily revolutions and power fights happen over there was eye opening, sobering, and made you pray for the people and families who live in it day after day.
This book was complicated and rather hard to follow. I stuck with it and enjoyed it, but you had to spend a lot of brain power keeping up with the places and people. There were really too many people I thought to keep up with easily.
Another thing would be the violence. There was on death in particular that was rather graphic. I wasn't surprised reading it, because of the context, but still.
I award this book 3 stars because of the difficulty I had reading it, and the violence contained inside it.
Score ~ ¿¿¿
Violence ~ 3
Indecency ~ 1
Language ~ 1
Age: 15 and Up