Book Review: The DMZ

22 Apr

More than a decade after the end of the cold war has chilled the Marxist rebel movements around the world, one hot spot remains-Colombia. 

The inexplicable loss of three major U.S. assets draws the attention of the world to the Colombian demilitarized zone. Are the local Colombian rebels responsible? Or is a deadly Middle Eastern secret cloaked by the jungle canopy of the DMZ. 

Among the contingent of politicians and media headed for the DMZ is reporter Julie Baker, whose parents had been missionaries in Colombia. Old hurts and terrors resurge as she revisits the place of her birth—and her parents’ deaths. When Julie’s own abduction by guerrillas triggers a time bomb that has been ticking under the feet of the U. S. for a decade, she is left with more questions than answers.

With the fate of two countries resting in her hands, Julie must put aside her own terror to face just what God’s call to sacrifice will mean for her past and her increasingly uncertain future.

A daughter of American missionaries, Jeanette Windle grew up in the jungles and small towns of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones. In 1981, Jeanette graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Biblical Studies and Theology from Prairie Bible College in Three Hills, Alberta. In 1985, Jeanette and her husband Martin moved to Bolivia to work with a nondenominational Christian mission organization. While her husband served as director, Jeanette worked with women and children at risk in varied regions of Bolivia.

Jeanette began her publishing/writing career producing Spanish-language educational and inspirational material for women and children at risk as well as writing articles for a variety of international publications. This was followed over the next years by eight children’s books, including the six books of the Parker Twins Adventure Series, a young adult mystery/suspense series set in a multi-cultural background, and a teen novel, Jana’s JournalHer first major adult political/suspense novel, CrossFire, set against background the counter-narcotics war in Bolivia she was witnessing firsthand, was released in 2000. This was followed by The DMZ, set in the guerrilla zones of Colombia where she grew up, and FireStorm, all published by Kregel Publications.Betrayed, set in the background of Guatemala’s fifty year civil conflict, was released by Tyndale House Publishers in 2008. Her most recent novel, Veiled Freedomset in Afghanistan, released by Tyndale House Publishers, was a 2010 Christy Award finalist and 2010 Christian Book Award finalist. Its sequel, Freedom’s Stand, is scheduled for release in May, 2011.

Jeanette and her husband Marty moved to Miami in June, 2000, when her husband assumed the position of Vice-President of General Services for Latin America Mission, a nondenominational Christian mission organization working throughout Latin America. In January, 2006, they moved again to Lancaster, PA, when Marty accepted the position of President of BCM International, another nondenominational mission organization serving in 50 countries on five continents.

Jeanette is editor of BCM World magazine, speaks and travels extensively both in the U.S. and internationally, and serves as consulting editor and mentor in developing writers  from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Spain, Croatia, Philippines and more. She is recipient of Focus on Fiction’s 2005 Deserted Island Book Award (i.e. the reading material of choice if one were headed to a deserted island). Jeanette is also recipient of the South Florida Writers Association 2004 Celebrity Author’s Award and 2002 Mabel Meadows Staats Award. She served for three years as VP of Publication for the South Florida Writers Association and president of Miami-Dade Christian Writers and is currently president of Lancaster Christian Writers. Marty and Jeanette have four children.

My Impressions:

The DMZ takes place two years after the tragedy of 9/11.  Some of the characters are no longer living and unable to act on the plans they had.  But the scenario of Islamic terrorists using the jungles of Colombia as a base of operations against the Unites States is still very plausible.   Jeanette Windle presents a terrifying plot to bring America not only to its knees, but to utter destruction.

Julie Baker is the daughter of missionaries to the native peoples of Colombia. Both of her parents died in a cholera epidemic and left Julie alone except for her guardian, Uncle Norm.  Given the chance to return to her home as a journalist, Julie jumps into the adventure with both feet.  Unfortunately, she finds herself kidnapped by guerillas and accused of being a spy.  What started out as a trip to capture the Pulitzer Prize, turns into a fight for survival. Unsure who to trust, Julie meets the challenge with courage and dignity.

Jeanette Windle has done her homework.  The research on Amazonic tribes, Colombian guerillas, paramilitary groups, environmentalists, Islamic terrorists and the United States’ involvement in fighting drug-traficking is spot on.  But for this reader a little went a long way.  The DMZ is over 500 pages, with most of the action taking place in the last half of the book.  I found the details and philosophies interesting, but the extent of the detail was a bit overwhelming.  I am sure others will find the information fascinating, but I found myself with eyes a bit glazed.

The suspense story is good, though.  Julie manages to stumble her way into a terrorist plot and survive.  I especially liked how Julie was able to use the skills she learned as a child to make her way through the jungle.  Julie’s sturggle with her feelings towards her parents’ deaths and the feelings that sacrifice and devotion are futile bring an added dimension to a suspenseful novel.  And if you like a little romance with your suspense, there is a very hunky guerilla along for the ride!

All in all, I liked The DMZ.  But I think I would have liked it better 100 pages shorter.

Recommended especially for those interested in military and counter-terrorism story lines.

One Response to “Book Review: The DMZ”

  1. Eve April 22, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    Cool! my husband and I went to Prairie Bible College in Three Hills as well…small world 😉

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