27 February 2013

Review: Congo Dawn by Jeanette Windle

Robin Duncan is an ex-marine turned linguist mercenary, hired for a translation job in the Congo with private security firm Ares, a subsidiary of multinational corporation Earth Resources. The operation doesn’t start well: Trevor Mulroney, a self-made billionaire and head of Earth Resources, expected a man. Pieter Krueger, head of the mercenary team, doesn’t like the public rebuff Robin gives him. And she’s on the same plane as Michael, the man she holds responsible for the death of her younger brother.

Dr Michael Stewart is on assignment with Médecins Sans Frontières in the Congalese village his parents also served in before they were brutally murdered. He isn’t pleased when Robin turns up with wounded from the mine her team are based at, and even less pleased when their hunt for a dangerous insurgent leads to the establishment of a large military camp less than a kilometre from the medical mission.

Congo Dawn opened with a gripping prologue, but early chapters of the book had a lot of detail about the political history of the Congo (formerly Zaire) and neighbouring countries. It was slow reading, and not her best writing, but I slogged through, thinking it would be important to the plot. Some of it was necessary, but I do think it was far too long and detailed. But I persevered, and was rewarded when the story finally found its feet.

Jeanette Windle doesn’t write typical Christian fiction, and Congo Dawn is no exception. She writes about familiar people in unfamiliar settings, including South America, Afghanistan and now central Africa. While this is fiction, the violence, government corruption and human rights abuses are all too real in this part of the world, and what seems right might, in fact, be wrong.

Windle uses the situation to explore the age-old question: how can a good God allow such evil? As circumstances force Robin to explore this question, her beliefs about Michael, about God and about her role with Ares Solutions are challenged. This is clearly a Christian novel, with a clear gospel message and a depth of understanding of the nature of suffering and character that few authors can demonstrate. Recommended.

Thanks to Tyndale House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Jeanette Windle at her website.

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