A mining company that wants to develop the resources of Kinshasa for profit. A Political Advisor whose security clearance has just been reinstated. A young engineer and geologist would like to have these resources for her village. Alex Baines becomes the Political Counselor in a highly Kinshasa working in the American Embassy. One of his major jobs is to help free several American hostages from the hands of a man calling himself “The Hammer of God.” But, first he has to decide which side he’s on and where his loyalties lie. A mining company empowered to take what the people of Maria’s village Busu-Mouli rightfully own, a government wanting their share of the profits and Alex caught in the center of lies, deceptions, deceits, betrayals and worst of all a power struggle for the wealth that lies beneath the surface of the ground.
Learning more about the villagers and realizing how much they have accomplished without any assistance, the agreement by the mining company that are retracted, Maria Tsiolo and her father the Chief of the tribe refuse to buckle down to the pressure being exerted by the mining company. Ore sites that yield copper and hoping to start open-pit strip mining, Alex is caught between his loyalty to his job, the Ambassador and his conscience. With a view of the landscape that is so magnificent, possible destruction of several peaks, the native villages want to control their own mining facilities and whit Marie’s expertise and Alex’s help they hope to succeed. But will they before more lives are lost as there are many other factions that have a stake in the final outcome and will resort to nothing short of killing off every member of every village that gets in their way to get what they want. Ambassador Howard Spencer relates and reminds Alex that his loyalties and job is to support U.S. business interests. The U.S. would profit and benefit from mining these resources in order to enhance their treasury, wealth and supposedly “ do great things.” But, what would happen if he went against protocol and their wishes? What would happen if the U.S. did not go after the DRC’s mineral wealth? Would any other country jump on the bandwagon? What about China or Russia?
Alex power of negotiating is quite strong but what happens when he meets with the Chief of the Busu Mouli trip will explain just how far these people will go to keep what they have and how the Chief managed to entrap Alex in a very unique and clever way thereby sending him off to convince the mining company of the tribe’s demands. With a village that contained so much wealth and copper and rubber the prime source of wealth in the Congo, Marie hoped that the “Chalcopyrite deposit she found would liberate her people and allow them to achieve full potential.” But, there were forces out there that would take matters into different hands and author Matthew Palmer takes readers deep inside the corruption, deceit and political manipulations often used to achieve goals that might benefit our country, hinder what another country might want and explain the dangerous political structure in Africa. Africans fearless and willing to kill for money, greed and power as well as a mining company comprised of what some might think are ordinary businessmen but in reality contain hired killers that are paid to kill anyone in their way, desecrate villages and hinder any articulation among the people of Marie’s village, the mining company and a President who has his own private agenda.
A deal with the mining company goes sour as Marie relates to her Uncle Thomas when touring her facility that the mining company would not longer provide the technical support, money or equipment promised. Profiting from the weaknesses of others and knowing that she feels responsible for the find and handing it over to the mining company the author introduces the fat that the Chinese also began taking and grapping tons of copper, steal and manganese that came on the market. The mining company not only sold her out but also intends to make a deal with the Ministry for Mines and Metals in Kinshasa. Graft, buying politicians and bureaucrats are just the tip of the iceberg. But, Marie has a smart staff and wise people working for her and when push comes to shove she won’t back down, some of the profits she made form her own mining operation just might help build her own army.
Alex learns the hidden truth behind a man whose goals he thought he could trust. Her father as the Principal Chief of the tribe, a fight that just might cost her more than she wanted and a startling reality revealed. As Alex and Marie talk about Consolidated Mining and Henri Saillard who accept the original deal and unveiling the truth and the other players involved helps readers understand just how far some will go to profit, gain wealth and destroy others.
When Alex begins to reflect on the mission that started it all in Darfur and the deadly raid on the refugee camp, the disconnection from the American Foreign Service and the fact that someone he called a friend and even more betrayed him allows readers to understand that the DRC has changed and that terrorist guerilla leaders like The Hammer of God exist and that all too often something you think is real is not. As we learn more about President Silwamba the author brilliantly reveals his link to a major player within this complex and multi-plot novel. President Silwamba and the Ambassador seem to be in close alliance with Consolidated Mining and another company whose reputation for raking and raping Africa’s mining resources is just part of what they do. Alex learns some hard truths and a starling revelation as he accompanies the Station Master one night and a conspiracy is revealed. Once again Alex faces a moral dilemma as he has to decide whether to remain in the foreign service, ignore what he has learned or fight for what he believes.
A series of raids and the death of many comes about as Marie is forced to take on a role that would change the dynamics of her tribe, her life and relationship with Alex. So many who are against her and others that are willing stand by her side as she and Alex plan to take down the president, reinstall someone who cares for the people and fight for the lives of so many. Will they find a way to stop Consolidated mining? Will they finally find a way to bring schools, medical care and wealth to her tribe? What happens when she is forced to leave her home and the reason behind it will surprise readers as those that are against her will stop at nothing.
“Kinshasa (kēnˈshäsə) [key], city (1984 pop. 2,664,309), capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, W Congo, a port on Pool Malebo of the Congo River. It is the Congo’s largest city and its administrative, communications, and commercial center. Major industries are food and beverage processing, tanning, construction, ship repairing, and the manufacture of chemicals, mineral oils, textiles, and cement, but the city’s economic life collapsed in the 1990s as a result of the political turmoil in the country. A transportation hub, Kinshasa is the terminus of the railroad from Matadi and of navigation on the Congo River from Kisangani; the international airport is a major link for African air traffic with Europe and the Americas. There is motorboat service to Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo, on the opposite bank of Pool Malebo.”
This is just some of the history of this beautiful country that author Matthew Palmer brings to life in this political/thriller filled with intrigue, murder, deceit, lies and will keep readers wondering just what the definition of the words: The American Mission means. Jonah Keeler, Alex Baines, Marie Tsiolo, The Hammer of God, Henri Saillard, the people of Kinshasa and one Ambassador sworn to serve his country: Who lives, who dies, who can be trusted, who will stop at nothing to reach the highest tower of wealth? Who will truly fulfill: The American Mission? Author Matthew Palmer has raised the bar really quite high in his debut novel. Hoping for a sequel that brings back both Alex and Marie. This is a novel about relationships, trust, morals, values, greed, power, betrayal, hope for the future and a people that would never give up. Author Matthew Palmer brings to light what really happens within the walls of an embassy using his real life experience as the Political Counselor at the American Embassy in Belgrade to help set the stage for this outstanding novel.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer