Marc Royce stares down from the helicopter on the Rift Valley slashing across Africa like a scar. Tribal feuds, drought, and dislocation have left their devastation. And he sees a new wound – a once-dormant volcano oozing molten lava across the dry landscape – and clouds of ash obscure his vision. His undercover assignment is similarly obscured.
Supposedly, dispatched to audit a relief organization’s accounts, Marc finds himself amid the squalor and chaos of Kenyan refugee camps caught in a stranglehold of corruption and ruthlessness. But his true task relates to the area’s reserves of once-obscure metals now indispensible to high-tech industry. The value of this rare earth inflames tensions on the world’s stage as well as among warring tribes. When an Israeli medical administrator, Kitra, seeks Marc’s help with her humanitarian efforts, they forge an unexpected link between impoverished African villages and another Silicon Valley rising in the Israeli desert. Precious metals and inventive minds promise new opportunities for prosperity, secure futures, and protection of valuable commodities from terrorists. As Marc prepares to report back to Washington, he seizes a chance to restore justice to this troubled land. This time, he may have gone too far.
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The ending ... what happened?
I liked the book, its pace, the story line. However, the last 30 minutes of the audio book were strange, seemingly rushed. It seemed unclear why Mark Royce made his decision. Perhaps it was a single line buried in the narrative. If so, I missed it, which was a shame. The whole wrap-up of the end was so anticlimactic that it diminished the overall work. Rather like running into a brick wall that drops onto a road just as the destination becomes visible.
Despite this, there were hours of pleasurable listening. I am a fan of Phil Gigante as the narrator of the story. He makes it very easy to keep track of the different characters by using distinctive voices for each. His reading brings the work to life. Thanks Phil.
- Susan Fryman