international suspense novel
While former Marine lieutenant Robin Duncan is no stranger to corruption or conspiracy, she has always been able to tell the good guys from the bad, and the Congo jungle at first seems no different. But as her security team tries to track down an insurgent killer, Robin has to face a man who broke her trust years ago, and she discovers the gray areas extend farther in this jungle wilderness than she anticipated.
A ruthless global conspiracy begins to surface, run by powerful men who can’t afford to leave any witnesses. Her life at stake, Robin doesn’t know who to trust and wonders how she can help protect innocent people. Why is God silent amid all the pain and injustice? And how do these people of faith continue to rejoice in their suffering?
Enjoy meeting Robin & Michael
Brief physical description
Congo Dawn has two main protagonists, United States Marine Corps Lieutenant Robin Duncan and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) volunteer, Dr. Michael Stewart. The best description I can offer is to let you join them as they first encounter each other in the story:
“A flash of blue jeans in Robin’s peripheral vision identified the new arrival as the motorcycle passenger. But it wasn’t his welcome offer of help that whirled Robin around. She could actually feel blood draining from her face as her eyes widened in shock. No, she hadn’t imagined she recognized that sardonic baritone. The motorcycle passenger appeared almost slight next to a huge Bulgarian mercenary who’d entered behind him until he strode forward enough to reveal he was several inches taller than Robin’s own five foot, eight inches. He looked thinner than Robin remembered, though no less muscled under a T-shirt so red with dust its original hue was a matter of dispute.
And older, deep grooves tracing the stern edges of his mouth from high-bridged nose to a firm chin. Nor did those tawny-brown eyes, fringed in long, dark lashes any girl would envy, hold any of the smiling warmth Robin had once known there. They were instead guarded and somber as though with unforgotten pain or grief. An always deep tan was now burned to coppery bronze only a shade lighter than close-cropped curls. All but a single ridge of healed scar tissue that ran palely in a jagged line from below his left ear down his neck to disappear beneath the thin material of his T-shirt.
The sudden whitening of that scar, his change of expression to disbelief as Robin whirled around, made clear she too was amply recognizable despite the passage of years. He’d approached so close now she could make out her own wavery reflection in his stunned dark gaze. Tired oval features that never truly tanned, thanks to the same genetic makeup that had given her red-gold waves currently pulled back tightly under a floppy brimmed hat. The slimly-muscled curves that her own lack of upper body armor over the same safari-beige clothing style as her companions revealed unambiguously as female. A straight-forward blue-green gaze this man standing in front of her had once compared to the quiet beauty of the Himalayan mountain pool beside which they were bivouacked at the time.
His sharp inhalation of breath, the stiffening of his body in mid-stride, permitted Robin to release her words through unsteady lips first. “Michael Stewart! What . . . what are you doing here?”
For Lieutenant Robin Duncan, Rachel Hurd-Wood (as redhead role since Robin is a redhead).
For Dr. Michael Stewart a younger Hugh Jackman (Michael is 30).
USMC Lieutenant Robin Duncan has all the courage, steadfastness, loyalty, dedication of her male family members’ long heritage as proud warriors serving their country in its most elite fighting unit, the United States Marine Corps. Her weaknesses are birthed from that same heritage: stubbornness, caution, difficulty in forgetting and forgiving, a supremely cynical opinion of humanity and above all of a certain humanitarian doctor who has broken her heart once and will not be granted opportunity to do so again.
Dr. Michael Stewart’s strengths are a deep faith and courage birthed from the fires of adversity, a passionate love for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where he grew up as a missionary kid, an equally passionate commitment to serving others through his profession as a surgeon, and some serious warrior skills himself from his stint as a combat medic in Afghanistan. His greatest weakness is a certain former Marine lieutenant he’d thought excised forever from his heart and life until she shows up unannounced and unwanted in the particular patch of equatorial rainforest he calls home.
Your inspiration for the characters
As with all my novels, both the main character Lieutenant Robin Duncan, USMC, and her male opposite number Dr. Michael Stewart are an amalgamation of many true-life counterparts I’ve known. But in past novels, my male protagonist has typically been the tough, adventurous, courageous Special Ops type while my female protagonist has often been a world-hopping humanitarian volunteer. And yet in my own life and experience, some of the toughest, strongest male characters I’ve met have been the missions bush pilots, medical volunteers, 2nd and 3rd generation jungle missionary kids, all who serve long term and without backup or armed protection in conflict zones a Special Ops team would hesitate to step into. Likewise I’ve met some incredibly strong, intrepid female warriors serving in the Armed Forces. In Congo Dawn, I wanted to give life to some of those very different heroes and heroines I’ve known.
Background to the story
Growing up in the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon, I was captivated by missionary biographies from its second-largest African counterpart, the Congo. Among them the story of Dr. Helen Roseveare, who helped establish several mission hospitals and medical training centers in the Ituri rainforest despite violence and unrest of impending Congolese independence, herself held captive for five months during the 1964 Simba rebellion. The largest of those centers Nyankunde was in turned razed in 2002 during the continuing conflict that has taken more than five million Congolese lives in the last decade.
Today’s fighting is greatly aggravated by the value and pursuit of conflict minerals in that zone. As always, it has been the mission pilots, medical personnel both expatriate and Congolese, and other followers of Yesu, Jesus Christ, who have been first back into the conflict zones well ahead of United Nations, embassy, local law enforcement or any other humanitarian and corporate interests. Their courage in shining bright the light of Yesu’s love in one of the planet’s darkest corners gave voice to this story.
For the story’s actual suspense thread, I’ve had opportunity to witness what a multinational corporation is capable of in dark corners of the Third World when no one is watching (a personal experience in itself too unbelievable to write up as fiction). In Africa as elsewhere, both the protective and striking arm of such corporations has historically been hired foreign mercenaries (the British East India Company’s conquest of India is the ultimate example).
But today’s post-9/11 private military corporations are vastly different than their predecessors, possessing more fire power than the average country. What struck me was the lack of accountability to any outside oversight beyond whichever paid-off regional warlord currently holds power. Just how far might a multinational corporation with the striking force of a private army be willing to go with the planet’s ultimate “conflict mineral” up for grabs? Coming up with one very plausible possibility birthed Congo Dawn.
Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of Veiled Freedom, Freedom’s Stand and Betrayed
Character spotlight on Steve & Amy
Book Club Interview with Jeanette
Visit Jeanette’s website and blog
Buy Congo Dawn at Amazon or Koorong