Twists. Turns. And a family secret you never saw coming . . .
Nina Truman heads to the bus for a much-deserved furlough from her nursing duties. On the side of the road, a uniformed soldier stands idly, casually holding his gun—of little concern to her; soldiers are not uncommon south of the Mexican border. But he suddenly switches off the safety and opens fire, sending the occupants into chaos. Out of the forest storms Shaw Wilder and his bomb-sniffing dog, Axel. An improbable hero, who thinks being a missionary is like “shoveling sand uphill, useless,” also blames Nina for his sister’s death.
Join Nina and Shaw on an expedition where every turn can mean death and discovering the truth may make life even worse. A page-turner right to the very end.
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
DANA MENTINK is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner. She was honored to receive her latest Carol Award for Jungle Fire. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, earned a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award. Dana has also received a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. Please visit Dana at www.danamentink.com for more information.
Read an Excerpt
By Dana Mentink, Sandra Bricker
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2013 Dana Mentink
All rights reserved.
Nina never imagined her life would end on a bus.
Not a dilapidated bus filled to groaning, departing the soggy Guatemalan town of Solitar, three hours from the Mexican border. Not sitting next to a dark woman with a haggard face and oddly green eyes who gazed at her with peculiar intensity from under lowered lids, peppering her with questions about her destination.
Especially not, she thought as the uniformed soldier raised his automatic weapon, one short day after her missionary furlough began.
Maybe she should have anticipated just such a thing. Violence was part of life in Central America, deeply rooted like the thorned kapok tree. Victims had been carried through the doors of their small clinic suffering a range of injuries from snake bites to stabbings. Some would walk out healed, and some would not walk out at all.
Still, perhaps the malice she saw in the gunman's demeanor was a product of her exaggerated imagination or the attitude she'd picked up from virtually every Mayan she'd encountered. Soldiers were to be regarded warily. After thirty-plus years of brutal civil war that staggered to a bloody end in the mid 1990s, the suspicions were not easily shed. The soldier, standing atop a grassy knoll on the side of the road with his dripping cap pulled low over his face, might just be looking to collect valuables from unwary passengers, especially Americans. It had happened before when they arrived at the clinic some four autumns prior.
"It's just money," her father had whispered to her, her fingers squeezed between his as the men pushed through the vehicle collecting valuables with eager smiles on their faces. "More will come when we need it."
Bruce William Monte, a veteran of two tours of duty in Vietnam, had tasted fear but never bowed to it—at least as far as Nina knew. He'd certainly never lost his cool for a moment when the bandits held up the passengers.
The terror she'd felt then had taunted her with shame. Fear was against the rules; not just the written ones recorded in the Bible, but also within the precepts upon which her father lived.
I will trust and not be afraid. Isaiah 12:2.
Still, she'd been ice-cold terrified and sick with fear.
Now, however, as the small collection of passengers stared at the gun-wielding soldier through the mud-spattered windows and the bus rolled to a stop, a surreal sense of detachment embraced Nina. Not courage, really, but disbelief. She felt as though an old movie unfolded before her eyes.
The man with the gun did not smile. He stood with slouched shoulders, braced against the wind that whipped the clouds into long roiling columns so common to el invierno, the Central American winter. He appeared to reconsider his situation, turning slightly, as if to walk away.
Juan Carlton, a fellow missionary who had served with her, shoulder to shoulder for the past six months, gave her a relieved, good-natured smile.
The soldier outside paused again. After a moment more of consideration, he lazily switched off the safety and opened fire. Nina noted the smile frozen on Juan Carlton's face in spite of the horror that blazed in his eyes.
In a deafening display, bullets punched through the windows like a stream of angry hornets, sending glass rocketing in all directions. Shards sliced into worn seat covers around Nina andskimmed her long brown hair.
"¡Dios mío, perdóname!" wailed the woman.
God forgive me.
Nina saw the driver's head snap forward. As he slumped over the steering wheel, the bus began to drift toward the side of the graveled road as if the driver's foot had lost contact with the brake. They drew nearer to the road's edge, where a sharp drop preceded a rugged boulder-strewn slope and bushes clung to the rocky soil with long roots like clawed fingers.
"Hold on," Nina yelled in English, her Spanish forgotten as the tires skidded sideways on shuddering axles.
"No, no, no," the woman cried, fingers pressed to her mouth.
Nina tried to grab her in vain as she flew from the seat. Bodies, bags, and glass eddied around her in a violent storm.
Something cut into her cheek, then her shoulder. Her body collided with the leg of Juan Carlton. The breath hammered out of her as she hurtled against a seat.
Still, Nina did not feel the surge of fear that should have accompanied the scene. It was odd that she felt no pain, even as blood washed across her field of vision. Odd too, that the screams from the handful of passengers stopped as the bus toppled one final time on its way to the bottom of the ravine. Strangest of all was that the green-eyed woman had, a split second before the soldier began to fire, given him a smile, the gentle smile of ... a woman in love.
* * *
The clouds rolled across the sky above the cluster of ramshackle buildings optimistically regarded as a town. As Shaw Wilder exited the crooked shed that served as the town garage, he looked again along the graveled road crowded with tangled vegetation.
Axel whined, and Shaw calmed the big German shepherd.
The dog paced in a restless ebb and flow in the sticky ground around Shaw's feet as Shaw's own muscles tensed. He knew enough to trust the dog who had proven infinitely more perceptive than any human he'd met.
Axel generally sensed much more than the presence of the land mines he sniffed out, and this was no exception. His nose quivered as he looked out across the hills turned phosphorescent by the continual rains. Shaw had arranged a meeting with his friend and employer, but he saw no sign of the man.
"Señor Wilder," Tito said, gasping for breath as he approached at a rapid clip. "¡Tenemos un problema!"
Trouble in any other language still sounded the same. "¿Qué pasó?"
Tito rattled off the information. The basic facts Shaw already knew. Otto Solis—the larger-than-life character with the lush black mustache and heavy silver pocket watch who had brought him to Solitar, hired him and Axel to rid his newly purchased land from explosives left over from the torturous civil war—was missing.
Overlooking an appointment in San Francisco or Paris was one thing; missed appointments in middle-of-nowhere Guatemala had more than a whiff of disaster about them. Death waited around every hill here and lurked in the quiet caves, nestled in clumps of trees on solitary roads. He'd come to expect it from the country that had destroyed his sister, her life drained away like the chicle sap that oozed from raw gashes in the sopadilla trees.
Perhaps Otto had gone to his plantation, a wild sprawl of oil palms nearer the mountains. He opened his mouth to ask Tito, and then thought better of it. Otto would have told him. The man was as reliable as the sunrise when it came to business. He'd gone to town with the promise of meeting Shaw upon his return at ten o'clock. It was now ten-thirty. Not surprising for the relaxed Central American attitude toward time, but Otto had never shared that philosophy.
"I'm a Guatemalan, born on New York time. Who can figure it?" He'd often said it with a characteristic chuckle. Otto was indeed a puzzle.
Shaw sent Tito to start the phone calls to Otto's regular business contacts and headed for his truck, Axel trotting along at his heels. He called Otto's satellite phone from his own once more. No answer. He gunned the motor and headed straight for the neat brick house Otto called home. The gravel pinged against the wheel wells as they progressed. For a moment, he thought he heard a rattle of gunfire. Stomping on the brakes, he waited, ears straining.
Nothing. His imagination. He continued on.
Mud sucked at the tires, splatting at the undercarriage where the gravel on the road had worn thin. Rolling down the windows did not allow for any refreshing breeze. Humidity reached in and squeezed the breath out of him.
Four years and counting, and Shaw hadn't yet gotten used to the weather. Winters brought daily drenchings and the threat of hurricanes while the long summers sank into stifling heat, stinging insects, and adventure-seeking tourists eager to visit the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal. The topography still confounded him, too. The massive jungle region of Petén flowed into cloud forests and dumped into coastal areas along two oceans, a continent as diverse as the people who lived there. Guatemalans were by nature a somewhat wary people, but the ladinos of Spanish European heritage were so different from the indigenous Mayan, that they might as well be from two different worlds. And Shaw supposed they were.
It's not the location, Shaw. It's you.
True enough. He felt at home precisely nowhere since his sister had died trying to be some sort of missionary zealot like her friend Nina Truman. As far as he could tell, being a missionary was like shoveling sand uphill; useless. Beth never should have stayed in Guatemala, never should have married a man so much older than her that he could have been her father. She never should have died there.
He pictured Beth, with his sandy blond hair and eyes caught somewhere between gray and blue, and the ball in the pit of hisstomach tightened. He should go home, return to the States where he didn't have to look over his shoulder for pit vipers and drug smugglers, but Beth was buried deep in the heart of this wild place, a fact that stuck him in the gut with the sharp force of an ice pick. He'd desperately wanted to take her body home, but her husband, a wealthy and powerful man with his fingers in every money pot in Guatemala, would not hear of it. She was trapped there and, in some ways, he wondered if he was too.
Axel seemed to sense Shaw's mood and pulled his head inside the window to give Shaw a wet nose poke to the thigh.
"I know. It doesn't pay to live in the past. Maybe we'll go back to the States soon, get ourselves a boat and a couple of corn-fed T-bone steaks."
Axel ignored the comment and shoved his head back through the open window, shaking off the rain droplets that fell with a gentle whoosh. Shaw rounded the twisting road, mercifully graveled, the engine grinding in complaint as he took the steep grade.
The smell got him first. A mixture of fuel and something much more frightening. The tang of a newly fired weapon.
The hair on the scruff of Axel's body stood on end, as if charged by an electric current. Shaw was more electrified by the sight of Otto's Jeep pulled off to the side of the road.
He hurtled out of the truck and ran to it. Empty. The feeling of foreboding hiked up a notch.
Axel didn't bother with the Jeep. He took off running up the slope, lanky shepherd legs quickly outpacing his master and carrying him out of view in a moment.
"Come, Axel," Shaw shouted to no effect.
Shaw hastened back to the truck and retrieved a sheathed knife from under the seat. He jammed it into his waistband before he took off upslope after the dog.
Quickly covered in sweat despite the rain, a noise came to him over the sound of the pattering droplets. He stopped to listen. Again, he heard nothing but rain hitting leaves and his own harsh breathing. The quiet didn't soothe him. The silence rang with an unnatural alarm, stripped of everything, even the squawking of ever-present jungle birds.
Pulse pounding, he sprinted up the road. Cresting the top, he didn't see anything unusual at first glance ... until his eyes traveled to the path. Deep ruts in the mud filled in the picture and he ran to the edge of the road. Looking down, he spotted the battered remains of a chicken bus, one of the many decrepit old school buses that carried everything from people to poultry. The metal body stretched like a dying animal halfway down the ravine, wedged against an outcropping of rock. Bullet holes showed in the few windows that remained intact. He scanned the tree line, the rock above and the tangle of shrubs below. The shooter was long since gone.
Disgust rose thick in his throat. Shaw didn't consider himself a man of great imagination, but the scenario played out in his mind's eye, and he winced at the broken bodies, moans of the dying, or worse, the all-encompassing silence that might greet him inside the ruined bus.
He started down the slope but stopped after a few steps. The police would be there within minutes, he could hear their approach. Best to stay away from anything involving the authorities. The lengthy explanations that would be required, the money that would likely need to change hands to end the questioning. Otto would have made the same decision. He was well-to-do by Guatemalan standards, but he could pinch a penny until it yodeled. And he had no love for the police.
"Axel!" he hollered. An answering bark came from somewhere in the deep screen of trees. He wondered what the dog had gone after. Mud stuck to his boots as he took a step toward the bus again. For the second time, he stopped.
Leave it to the police, he told himself, or the almighty missionaries who came to this nowhere jungle to shine their light in the darkness, or whatever it was they did.
"It would take a massive inferno to change the smallest thing about this place," he grumbled.
His attention lassoed by a delicate bloom of orange from inside the bus, Shaw squinted at the light playing crazily behind the broken shards of glass still clinging to the frame as the flames sprang suddenly to life.
* * *
Nina's face pressed against something rough. Her mind fought the return to consciousness as flickers of pain shot up her arms and legs. A crackling noise buzzed in her ears like some enormous jungle insect. She opened her eyes and blinked against the blurriness. She pushed against the stuff that scraped her cheek.
Realization jerked her upright with such force that she nearly passed out. The cloth on her face materialized into someone's sleeve; her missionary friend, Juan Carlos. He was dead. Even without her nursing background, she would have known from the odd angle of his broken neck, the lifeless pallor of his dark skin.
She thought it odd that she didn't feel grief. Nor anger. Nor anything. All she could manage was to stare at the man who had been alive only moments before, clutching a guidebook and a cheap ballpoint pen in his hands and reading snippets about the Mayan ruins they intended to visit before she returned to the States. She'd only planned to remain in Guatemala for two more days, tops. Just long enough to welcome the incoming team of missionaries. Oddly, she'd had to fight her father on that point. He'd wanted—demanded, really—that she fly out with him, leaving their precious clinic untended. But Nina had prevailed in her objections, and Juan Carlos had cheerfully agreed to stay and assist where needed.
Juan Carlos. The affable, easy going, humble man who did the dirtiest jobs without complaint and never lost his wide grin.
Now he was dead, and the world had turned upside down.
Pray, Nina. That's what you should do.
But she couldn't.
She could do nothing but stare at him as the rain washed over his face, coursing down the laugh lines around his mouth, and dripping off his chin.
Someone pulled at her arm.
"Vamanos, por favor."
The green-eyed woman. A trickle of blood snaked down her forehead, glistening black against her skin.
Nina allowed herself to be pulled to her feet, fighting a wave of dizziness. She understood now that she'd been thrown clear of the bus which was turned over, stuck on a clump of rock halfway down the slope, wheels still turning lazily. Nearby, two men laid curled on their sides, mercifully still breathing. An old woman cradled a whimpering child in her arms, stroking his hair and shielding his face from the rain with her body.
Someone caused this. Purposefully. Her mind whirled, following the rhythm of the spinning tires. Bullets. Ruined people. Ruined bus.
She stared into the windows through the jagged teeth of glass. A shadowed head appeared, a small hand thrusting through the wreckage. A child. At the same moment, she watched smoke rise up around the tiny figure, wreathing him in a black shroud.
A child. A child. A child!
Her mind screamed, but her body refused to move in the right direction as the green-eyed woman pulled her away toward the trees.
"We must run," she said in accented English. "He will come back."
Nina finally found the strength to resist the woman's strong grip. "There's a child," she managed, stabbing a finger toward the bus. "There. In there."
Excerpted from Jungle Fire by Dana Mentink, Sandra Bricker. Copyright © 2013 Dana Mentink. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love the book
A Read Page Turner! Nina Truman is a missionary nurse leaving the Guatemalan clinic behind for a much-needed furlough. Traveling in an old bus along treacherous, muddy, primitive roads, suddenly a lone soldier opens fire, shattering the windows of the bus. injuring the driver and several passengers. The bus careens off the road down a steep ravine landing precariously on an outcropping of rocks. Nina risks her life to rescue injured passengers, as the bus becomes engulfed in smoke. Shaw Wilder discovers the wreckage, and at the insistence of his bomb-sniffing dog, realizes that someone may be trapped in the bus. As he discovers movement inside he breaks out the doors, dragging Nina to safety as the flaming inferno catapults off the rocks, plunging to the jungle floor. One of the survivors passes a note to Nina which she pockets as she decides to head back to the clinic to await help. Dana Mentink has written a fast-paced, suspense-filled novel that will make your heart pound and increase your breathing! This is a page-turner from beginning to end, without a clue as to what will transpire next! This author is a master at suspense from every angle, constantly keeping the reader immersed in uncertainty and angst. She presents a pictorial portrait of the jungle atmosphere and the dangers that lurk within its boundaries, and the characters are varied and portrayed intimately. Nina's strong faith is the hope that runs throughout this book, despite Shaw's anger at God and his refusal to even acknowledge that God cares about him. Through every challenge Nina's faith remains strong, and she is willing to face death with the assurance of heaven. I highly recommend this well-written book! Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
Nina Truman, missionary nurse, encounters so much more than she expects. Then she learns a truth that almost cost her life. Shaw Wilder is bent on revenge for his sister's death. Instead he finds God's love and a mission field. Shaw trusts Otto who turns out to be a wolf in sheep clothing. And the man he didn't trust shows him how much he loved his sister, Beth. Twists and turns keep you reading on and on. Lives changed by the power of God during dangerous paths. And then there is Axtel, the dog. He never gives up. Sometimes you wonder who you can trust. You will finish this book with a fire inside to do the will of God.
With danger around every corner, Jungle Fire by Dana Mentink, kept me glued to the edge of my seat page after page. I was hooked even further with the tension-filled romance. ***I received this book from the publisher/author for review. The above is my honest opinion.***
I LOVED Jungle Fire, could hardly put it down. I have read several Dana Mentink's books but I think she out did herself with this one. Her books confirm that a good suspense/mystery book can be written and enjoyed without offensive language. I highly recommend Jungle Fire and believe you won't be disappointed if you like a good suspenseful story line.
From page one, the reader is cast into the dangers of a Guatemalan jungle. The story begins with missionary Nina Truman on a bus being riddled with bullets. When the bus crashes and is in danger of going over a ravine, Nina can't leave behind the wounded and almost loses her own life. Shaw Wilder, in Guatemala on a private vengeance happens upon the scene and saves Nina. But when he realizes she's the woman he holds responsible for the death of his sister, he almost wishes he'd left her behind. The two are sent on a dangerous journey through the jungle with madmen chasing them and a deadly secret hanging over Nina's head. Who can they trust? Not everyone is who they seem, and not only must Nina and Shaw fight those who want to kill them, but they must battle with their own attraction to each other. A page-turning romantic suspense the reader won't want to put down.
This is the first novel I have read by Dana Mentink, and it won’t be my last. The minute I started reading this book I couldn’t put it down. Talk about suspense, from the first word to the last, and a mystery running right through the middle of it. Nina was working in missions in Guatemala with her father, who had just left the day before. She would be leaving soon, but starts a bus trip with a fellow missionary. Intense action starts that very day and doesn’t slow down for one page, going on and on. Shaw Wilder and his dog Axel have only one goal in mind. To find out who killed his sister and kill them, but life gets in the way sometimes. He gets drawn into trying to keep Nina safe, even though he blames her as one who is responsible for his sister’s death. Nina wholeheartedly believed that God wanted her there in Guatemala doing what she was doing. She felt that God was directing her path. Shaw had no faith in God at all; he had what happened to his sister and his Mother to go on. Can anything bring them together? The discussion questions at the end of the story are very thought provoking, making you wonder sometimes do you need to read it again. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a suspense filled book.
Nina just wants to get away and get some answers from her father. Nina has given her life to the missionary life, following in her father’s footsteps and putting aside her own thoughts. She’s sure that this is where God wants her to be. Shaw just wants to blend into the foliage in Guatemala and run from his sister’s death and his mother’s illness. Where is their God that his sister, Beth and his mother believed in for so long? He feels that he’s better off alone then ever giving into that religion. After Nina’s bus is shot at and ran off the road, though, Shaw and Nina start down a path that neither one could have ever seen coming. Is it the police after them, the ruthless drug leader or is some other sinister plot out to bring them down? This story takes you into the deep reaches of the jungle, where not only is there a daily fear of the animals hiding in the branches, but of the dangerous men there as well. What secrets are Nina’s father hiding? Can Shaw ever look past his current situation and find the loving God? Will they make it out of the jungle alive? Find out for yourself when you BUY THE BOOK! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I received this book. I hadn’t read anything by her, but the title and description definitely looked like a book that I would enjoy. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I loved the character of Shaw, I always enjoy seeing characters that are sure that there way is always the best way. This gives me a chance to recommend it to men that I know that remind me of the character so that they can see, in the end, how much giving themselves over to Him makes their life so much more fulfilling. Is this a "guy's book"? You bet! There are guns, chases, more guns, corrupt officials, drug lords, more guns and airplanes. Let’s just saw there’s more than enough suspense and manliness in the book to keep any man’s attention.
Love, love, loved the book Jungle Fire by Dana Mentink! It was my first read of hers and I am hooked. I loved the characters and all the twists and turns. I could not put it down as I had to know what was going to happen next. It is a great, quick read for anyone over the summer or on a trip. I will be looking forward to her next book!..
BREAKING NEWS: I have just been introduced to a talented suspense author and her latest novel from Moody Press: Dana Mentink and Jungle Fire! I am so happy to have this book gracing my shelf now, and I am thrilled to have the challenge of expressing my admiration in this review. My review will go something like this: The setting, Guatemala, was so deftly described that I felt like I was there: in the river, in the moist hot vegetation, driving on the gravel and mud roads. And the characters? Well, I knew I wanted to get to know them the first time we met, and by the end of the book I felt like I did know them. Shaw Wilder: His 'voice' in Jungle Fire is authentic for a man...something I am particular about. His thoughts and words let us know what life means to him and how he thinks about things, and his actions tell us even more about him. He is tough, with a never-say-die mindset that gets him where he needs to go. He has a really cool backround too: explosives detection with the police here in the States, which gave him training and the law enforcement edge. Shaw is a great hero, though I doubt he would want that title, so he can share it with Axel, his dog. Axel is an explosives detection dog, and he and his master had plenty to do in Guatemala what with the land mines left after the bloody civil war. Together they are an awesome team! Nina Truman: a fine example of sturdy femininity. A missionary nurse with a gentle touch and a brave heart, Nina has dedicated her life to serving the people of Guatemala. She has fears, but she knows her Heavenly Father is mighty. Nina and Shaw were wonderful people to meet. And they inspired me: I read about Nina and Shaw's fortitude and determination as they escaped through the harsh terrain of Guatemala, and I hoped that I would have that strength in me. I thought about how little help they received from the villagers who had been bought off by the drug cartels, and yet how willing Nina remained to reach out and tenderly touch and care for the sick and wounded she met, and I knew I wanted that too. As I read, I was right there in the action along with Nina and Shaw. It takes a special writer to craft good action scenes, the kind that get your adrenaline pumping and yet still make sense. These were good! Review in six words: Jungle Fire is a great read. Thank you Dana for my copy to review!