Congo Dawn, by Jeanette Windle
The daughter of missionaries, and an accomplished novelist of what could best be termed Christian action-adventure novels, Jeanette Windle has shone light on a mysterious part of the world that has attracted novelists like Joseph Conrad and Michael Crichton. In over 450 pages of exciting narrative, Windle fills her novel with reminisces, exciting plot-twists, and a colorful use of language that richly paints the landscape and people of the Itruri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In doing so, she paints a dramatic and powerful picture of redemption and judgment in a way that exposes a great deal of corruption while providing an immensely satisfying ending filled with love.
Without revealing too much of the plot, the novel begins with an incident of shocking betrayal in a small Congolese village, followed by the providential connection between two old flames who have been without communication for five years. One is Christina Duncan, daughter of a long line of Marines whose love for a broken and troubled family has led her to become a mercenary in order to pay for medical care for a beloved but fragile niece. The other is one Michael Stewart, the son of a medical missionary couple whose lives were lost and whose daughter was raped in a brutal massacre in the post-Mobuto civil wars. Driving the plot are the consequences of a cover-up orchestrated by a wealthy but overleveraged British CEO engaged in a complicated set of maneuvers to pay off his debts and silence anyone who would know the truth about the motivation behind his actions.
At every step of the novel, the reader is aware of the providential care of God, and also the keen eye the author has for deliberate arrangements. Those readers who are Christians, or who are open to Christianity, will most appreciate the way in which the novel works out the spiritual awakening of several main characters as they choose to behave decently and honorably, despite great risk to themselves and their loved ones. The book also deals thoughtfully with the power of non-governmental organizations and the worldwide press (BBC is particularly praised), as well as the complicated way in which decent people become implicated in massive and corrupt behavior through simply following orders and seeking the freedom to live life as they know best. Any novel that makes sympathetic main characters of a British-trained chemist turned rebel leader, an American mercenary, and an idealistic doctor has earned a great deal of goodwill for its mix of pragmatism and idealism.
The fact that the novel turns on an obscure and fascinating aspect of mining and chemistry along with the biblical interest in refining character makes it a novel that has a great of thoughtful appeal to thoughtful readers willing to examine subjects of metallurgy as well as theodicy (that is, the justification of God’s actions in light of a fallen and evil world). This novel does not shy away from great evil, and it was pretty difficult to read in light of my own experiences due to its vivid portrayals of suffering, but all the same it was an immensely satisfying read for those readers who wish to wrestle with difficult matters of great relevance in our world today.