Friday, December 21, 2012

A Cipher in the Sand by Sandra Bolton

An interesting and tense foray into a beautiful yet dangerous land in 1985. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A middle aged woman, divorced, her children grown and gone, feels the need for change and purpose in her life. She joins the Peace Corp, much against the wishes of her children. She is assigned as a teacher and to improve education in a somewhat remote area of Honduras. Her first taste of excitement as the man she has been talking with in the airport, suddenly makes a run for it when the airport security come after him. Her next shock at the end of the flight when she learns they will be landing in the dark, the airport lit by headlights of cars lined up along the runway and men with flashlights guiding the plane to the terminal; the plane swoops down over the mountains onto a very short runway.

Once in Honduras, she quickly learns that she has no idea what she is in for. She finds the land and the people in the villages beautiful and relaxing, but darkness is on the horizon for her. After training, her assignment takes her to the coast and a small village. Fortunately, many people in this particular village speak English, but she has also learned Spanish so she is able to converse quite well with the villagers. To her consternation, a misfit in the newly trained Peace Corp recruits, a young girl, suddenly becomes her room-mate to work in the clinic as a nurse. These totally different personalities must find some common ground.

It does not take long for them to become targets of the Honduran military when they try to help the local villagers. In no time at all, they will be running for their lives. This book is well-written, in-depth both in character and plot. Tension runs high, murder, mystery, yet sweet and caring, this is a powerful thriller with a heart. Fast-paced, terror-ridden, a veritable clash of countries, military, populace, hope and fear all at the same time. I thought this was an excellent read, packed with intrigue. Definitely a very good first novel. I congratulate Sandra Bolton on writing a novel that compels the reader to keep reading this new and exciting book.

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