Saturday, June 30, 2007

African Ice: a book review for Joe Bob Briggs


Here's my latest review for the Joe Bob Briggs Report Book Club. As always, this is my draft and the folks over at the site are free to edit and make changes. They don't do that as often as they used to, which means I'm either getting better or their standards are going down. :-)

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African Ice by Jeff Buick
Published by Dorchester Publishing
ISBN: 0843957204

Despite the 350+ pages, this international thriller is a pretty quick read. Ranging from New York City to the Congo, with side trips to London, Cairo and Amsterdam the cast of characters seems to be constantly on the move. While I can’t vouch for the authenticity of the writer’s description of each place, he certainly makes them seem real. Whether through personal experience or careful research, Buick’s Congo is as easy to imagine as the streets of Manhattan. Also, through the thoughts and dialogue of his main characters he presents a sympathetic view of a continent riddled with violence and corruption, yet filled with people doing the best they can for themselves and their loved ones.

Hired by the Gem-Star company, to locate a diamond rich location in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, noted geologist Samantha Carlson is at first hesitant. While she enjoys working in the field, rather than a laboratory, her past experiences in Africa have made her a bit uneasy. She is also still grieving the loss of both her parents in an accident several years before. Eventually she meets Travis McNeil, who will command the security team which will accompany her, and considering her other options she decides to take the job. Little does she know that it is not Gem-Star seeking the diamonds, but the unethical president of that firm, Patrick Kerrigan.

When Samantha, Travis and his team of ex-SEALs arrive in Africa they quickly discover that they might not be able to trust either Kerrigan nor those he has hired to get the team in and out of the remote jungle. Eventually, they discover that they are not the first team that Kerrigan has sent in and then betrayed, leaving no survivors to tell the tale. Even escaping from the initial ambush, the group finds that Kerrigan is willing to remove anyone who stands between him and the diamonds. His wealth gives him access to resources that Samantha & Travis may not be able to overcome.

Buick brings his characters a dimension not always found in books of this type. Even the bad guys, in some cases, have reasons they feel justify their deeds. While some of the author’s detailed description of diamond mining and other minutia will glaze your eyes, overall I enjoyed the story and would be more than willing to pick up another book by him.

Three stars
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